After my sabatical to the GIS2017 education conference and show in Orlando, Florida and some welcome warm temperatures and sunshine it was straight back to clouds-to-the-ground, sleet and temperatures barely above zero at Gatwick 🙁
Quite a shock to the system I can tell you but needs must and all that…..It was a cracking event, some good seminars where I continued my learning and I also gained a snapshot of an industry that’s trying to adapt to their changing climate just like we are. I can’t think of a Superintendent I spoke to that didn’t mention at some point how the weather had become more volatile, more extreme lately and particularly the autumn / winter period.
It never ceases to amaze me when you fly over to The States just how much snow and ice there is down there over Newfoundland and Canada. This was the first sign of human habitation on the east coast of Canada after hours of flying over ice, snow, mountains and glaciers, I wondered looking down from the plane what kind of life they lead down there, a hard one for sure. (Bet the fishing is good though in the summer..)
Talking of fishing, I did get in a morning’s fishing on Lake Tohopekaliga (trying saying that after a couple of Heinekins) ) with the erstwhile Andy Russell and Dave Mitchell. Up before dawn to try and lure some Large Mouthed Bass which we did successfully though I have to say I was more taken with this Spotted Gar I caught, what a set of gnashers ! Andy R managed to prove the old fishing adage that if you hold any fish close enough to the camera it looks large 🙂
I digress, onto the weather and some glad tidings are coming our way temperature-wise as we look set to lose that Baltic easterly wind anytime soon 🙂
General Weather Situation
So for Tuesday we have a mixed start with an overnight frost across the U.K and rain already into the south west of Ireland (and England) but Tuesday is a key change day wind direction-wise because we will see that wind edge round from east to south through the course of the day and that’ll allow the temperatures to begrudgingly nudge upwards. Those milder temperatures are already being felt across the west of Ireland hitting double figures by lunchtime across the west with that accompanying rain moving south and east into Munster and Leinster. For the rest of the U.K it looks like a quiet sort of a day with that wind slowly edging SSE and then finally southerly later on tonight. Quite a bit of cloud about especially associated with that rain front across the south and west but further east and north we will see some lovely winter sunshine or day I say early spring sunshine now that the Snowdrops are up, the Catkins are out and my Hellebores are getting ready to flower ? Temperatures for the U.K should be high single figures maybe just nudging 10°C across Wales and the west coast, but higher across Ireland.
Onto Wednesday and we begin to feel that milder weather coming in with a southerly wind in place pushing cloud and some rain across Ireland on Wednesday morning. A much cloudier start everywhere really so no risk of frost this morning in fact it’ll be quite a mild night. So an unsettled start with rain through the morning across Ireland and this rain will also affect the north west, south west and south coast of England through Wednesday morning though across the eastern coastline of England and Scotland you will have some nice breaks in the cloud and spells of sunshine. By the afternoon though this rain is still over Ireland and moving inland across Wales, England and the west coast of Scotland and by the evening it is across the east side of the country as well as affecting the top 2/3 of Ireland with only South Munster clear. Feeling much milder everywhere with double figure temperatures the norm.
For Thursday we have a rain front across western Scotland and some rain across South Wales and the north west of England. So a dull day with plenty of cloud cover, some of it thick enough to bring some drizzle across the north and west of the country but many areas will remain dry. That rain over Scotland will slowly move eastwards inland from the west coast pushed along by a strong westerly wind. That wind direction change looks universal so by Thursday we have a moderate to strong westerly wind in situ and that’ll keep the temperatures up around double figures but maybe feeling a little cooler because of that cloud cover.
Finishing off the week, Friday looks to continue that dull theme with rain moving across Ireland overnight pushing into the north west of England, the Isle of Man (thinks that’s my first mention ever of that lovely location) and south west Scotland. Again the east coast may just see some glimpses of sunshine through the morning on Friday but these will be confined to coastal areas I think. By the afternoon that rain is into south west Scotland and pushing north and east, with another front touching the toes of Kerry in time for the afternoon rush hour 🙂 Across central and northern England we should see that cloud cover break up to give us some glimpses of sunshine and these breaks will allow the temperature to come up nicely. Double figures for most areas with I think the west of Ireland up to 13°C or so, which is balmy for February.
Well I don’t think so as Saturday looks to be a nice day though it’ll be a bit of a west-north / south divide with the bulk of the hazy sunshine across the latter. There will be some rain around across the north and west of England and across Scotland and this will be accompanied by a thick cloud base so a dull day for Ireland, the north of England and Scotland, Continuing mild though with temperatures up close to double figures, maybe a tad lower under that thick cloud. Sunday looks a potentially nicer day with less cloud about and consequently more in the way of breaks across Ireland, Wales, the west of England and Scotland. We will continue to have a moderate westerly wind in place and so eventually this will pull more cloud cover off The Irish Sea and The Atlantic and consequently some rain late in the day for north west of Ireland and Scotland me thinks. Remaining mild with slightly higher temperatures on Sunday if you see some breaks in the cloud cover.
So will it hold set fair or haven’t we seen the last of winter ?
Well I think we will remain in a predominantly westerly airflow through next week although it may tilt slightly to the north west so that’ll make it a tad cooler mid-week. Windy and unsettled across the west and north I think, milder further south with an increasing chance of that rainfall further south from Thursday next week onwards accompanied by some strong winds. So no risk of overnight frosts I’d say next week and above-average temperatures for late February. It would be great if we move into March with this weather pattern in place and have a sunshine and showers start to the spring as opposed to dry and cool as has been the pattern over the last two springs.
Ok, lot’s to talk about and let’s start off by looking back at January as a month GDD / G.P-wise because it was an odd one.
Straight off you can see it was a cold one with only 12.5 total GDD for the month recorded at The Oxfordshire and I know other locations were even lower, in low single figures actually. It was also colder in the south of England than the north of England and / or Scotland and if we look at Ireland we see again a west / east divide (though both were a lot warmer than England !) The difference was cloud cover and frosts.
Looking at different locations across the U.K we get an interesting picture in terms of growth but also rainfall…
So we can see that both western and northern locations had better GDD and higher rainfall and that makes sense because the prevailing rainfall pattern was west and north with the south and east more affected by cold high pressure from the continent. In these locations it was drier but also colder. Another crucial factor was cloud cover and frosts with the south of England having clearer skies during January and so colder nights whereas the west and north had more cloud cover, less frost and more growth potential.
Really happy to have some weather data from Fife, Scotland, I’d like to get some for the west and Central Scotland as well if possible. I know from my early days of travelling on Scottish roads when I looked after Spring Barley and Oat crops, I dealt with farmers from Port Logan near Stranraer right up to 40 miles north of The Black Isle (all in a 4-speed Volvo 340DL which I eventually wrote off out of kindness 🙂 ) and I am acutely aware that the climate is very different in different regions of Scotland, just like it is in England and Ireland.
Speaking of which (flawless switch into Irish weather data 🙂 ), if we look at 4 sites across Ireland we see a pronounced west / east divide in terms of growth potential and rainfall….
God bless them, Valentia had nearly twice the growth of the east side of Ireland and 10x the growth of Birmingham, but of course the grass isn’t always greener (though likely it is in this case!) because they also had 6x the rainfall of Dublin and 4x Birmingham.
You can clearly see the growth patterns as the milder (and wetter) low pressure systems passed across Ireland during January 2017, there are 4 distinct peaks. In Central England there is no such trend as high pressure held sway so the highest growth potential barely broke 0.2.
I’ve picked two locations, one in Central England, one in West Ireland and you can see that we have growth predicted for every day now for the next 7 days (and beyond I think) with Ireland milder as expected.
So if ground conditions allow I think this is a good time to take advantage of conditions, do some light brushing to flick out that old, dead growth on all areas really whether it be greens, tees, fairways or sportsfields. You should see some nice responses out there over the next week or so.
Obviously a nice tickle of nutrient to pick surfaces up will work well with I think both foliar and granular fertilisation having a place. When we have warm air temperatures at this time of year you can often gain a nice response from a foliar input of cool-temperature available nutrient sources like ammonium sulphate and potassium nitrate, particularly if accompanied by some iron. Granular inputs may be slightly harder as you have to time them with rainfall to gain granule breakdown and there’s more likely to be moisture across the west and north rather than the south and east this week.
For my money picking turf up now (whichever way floats your boat) means you can gain a head start going into March, which after all is only a couple of weeks away. Sometimes growth gained now can bear dividends coming into the traditional aeration period and indirectly you’ll need less inputs then if your turf is healthy and already primed up. It’s also a good time to hit moss with granular iron-based Mosskillers because you can knock the moss back, encourage the grass to out-compete it and be ready to scarify and overseed the following month.
Ok I have a lot more to say but that’ll have to wait to next Monday as Tempus Fugit my friends.
All the best.