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Hi All,

Waking up to another 9mm of rain overnight recorded on my weather station, hearing about the death of David Bowie and knowing that rain is now accompanied by more normal temperatures for January, it is tempting to follow my Hedgehogs into hibernation (because they know it’s going to get colder don’t you know) and ask the office to wake me up sometime in March 🙂

Hedgepigsawayt

I do marvel at nature sometimes, I mean we have all that technology to inform us in order to make decisions and nature doesn’t, yet it functions very efficiently, sometimes more efficiently than we do, maybe we have too much information eh ?

So if you’re wandering where you can possibly route golfers that doesn’t already resemble a football goalmouth or your football pitches are resembling something like they used to in the eighties, rest assured we do have some drier, colder weather on the way, but we have the first three days of this week to get through first 🙂 and 🙁

We should also be cognisant of the fact that the evenings are beginning to draw out slowly (I was still walking yesterday at 4.30 p.m. and it was only Owl twilight) and we only have 6 and a bit weeks till March 🙂 (Positive vibes everybody)

So let’s look at what this week is going to throw at us.

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees us start with a low pressure slap bang on top of the U.K and Ireland, in fact it’s centred just off the Moray Firth presently and so that means we have unsettled weather in store. For the morning we have a front of rain pushing into the south coast up through the Home Counties and into East Anglia. We also have some wintry showers sitting over the north east of Scotland. As we progress through the morning we see those rain fronts rotate anti-clockwise (because we have low pressure and that rotates in an anti-clockwise direction) up the east coast of England and down into central and south west Scotland by the afternoon. We also see another front of rain push into south west Munster at the same time. By Monday afternoon rush hour that east coast rain slips away into The North Sea whilst the Scottish wintry showers sit firmly in situ over The Highlands and Central Scotland. Elsewhere you’re still likely to see some showers with a band pushing down into North Wales, through South Wales and into the South Midlands through the course of the evening. All in all a pretty dull and shabby start to the week I’m afraid though some areas will stay dry. Temperatures will be typical for January, that is mid-single figures for central and eastern areas of the U.K and a tad higher for Ireland and the west of the U.K. Winds will vary depending on where you are but the main orientation is west / south west and they’ll be moderate.

Moving onto Tuesday and we have that low feeding wet air into north east Scotland and then pulling it down the west coast of the U.K / east coast of Ireland. With low temperatures some of this moisture will fall as snow over altitude but even at low levels in the north you’re likely to see a covering. Central and eastern Scotland looks to pick up quite a packet of moisture by the looks of it I’m afraid. By lunchtime that band of rain and wintry showers will be into Leinster and across Wales with the chance of snow over the tops. Elsewhere (south and east of this rain front) it looks like you might stay on the drier side with the chance of some sunny intervals. This may push temperatures up to all of 6°C, (golly gosh) in those areas and a degree or two lower under that moisture. As we go into Tuesday afternoon and evening that moisture swirls round and pushes east so a wet end to the day for central and eastern areas on Tuesday. Winds will have a northerly feel to them across the north and western areas but will come from the west over central and eastern areas.

For mid-week we have still have that low sitting slap bang where it was on Monday morning, thanks to us sitting in a trough pattern in the jet stream (and hence a slow movement of weather systems). This means another band of rain, sleet and wintry showers pushing into the west coast of the U.K overnight and moving slowly eastwards in a vertical band so by rush hour it’ll be straight over the middle of the U.K. We will also see another band of wintry showers moving into west Munster overnight. East of this rain band you’ll have a bright and cold start to the day with a real chilly feel to it for sure. By lunchtime this first band of wintry showers moves off into The North Sea. but that westerly moisture is moving across Ireland and into Wales so another wet afternoon for the west I’m afraid. Scotland looks to miss all of this moisture so a cold, clear day for you and well overdue. By Wednesday evening we see that band of moisture across Northern Ireland, north west England and central areas, falling as a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. Temperatures for Wednesday will be much lower than earlier in the week so in some northerly places barely making it to mid-single figures and in the dry, bright areas you’ll have a sharp frost to start the day with barely a rise in temperature thereafter. Winds will follow the same pattern as Tuesday, northerly in the north and west, westerly in central areas and the south.

For Thursday we have that band of moisture pushing southwards overnight and as it picks up the chillier, northerly air stream it could well turn to wintry showers through Thursday early morning over Wales and Central England, a real taste of winter. As we progress through the morning, this band of wintry showers pushes eastwards and a new band of colder, moist air pushes more wintry showers into Donegal and across Ireland. These will mainly be focussed over the west of Ireland. North and east of this new band of moisture the wintry showers will leave behind brighter and colder weather for most of the U.K. I say most because later in the afternoon there’s a chance that some of that Irish moisture may funnel down into North Wales and push south eastwards. By nightfall most places will be have clear skies so that means a big temperature drop and a very sharp frost, perhaps the coldest night of the winter so far. That westerly moisture will continue to throw some wintry showers across the west coast of Scotland, northern England, Wales and the south west. Winds will be light to moderate, north westerly and I expect temperatures down to -4°C and lower over Scotland and -2°C over central southern areas. The west may escape a frost if cloud cover remains.

Closing out the week we have a mixture of cold, bright conditions across central and eastern areas and wintry showers for west coasts. Ireland will also see some moisture move into west Munster during the early hours. As we progress through Friday morning I think we’ll see some of those westerly, wintry showers push inland across Wales, the north of England and eventually into eastern England. Ireland looks to finish the week, cold and wet, whereas Scotland looks to hang onto that mix of bright sunshine and wintry showers with the latter more likely across central and then eastern / north eastern Scotland. It’ll continue to feel cold with daytime temperatures lucky to hit mid-single figures for most areas, maybe a degree or two higher over Ireland and the west. Winds will continue to have that north-westerly feel.

Looking ahead to the weekend, high pressure appears to be edging in and so it looks like a dry, cold weekend is on the cards. At this stage Saturday and Sunday could turn out to be really cracking winter’s days with sharp frost and bright sunshine. If so I’m going to get up early and get walking / cycling whilst all that mud and water is frozen because once it starts to thaw out, it’s slip, slidey away you know 🙂 So dry everywhere it looks like for Saturday with just the chance of some wintry showers coming off The North Sea. I’d expect temperatures to be similar to Friday, low single figures with a sharp frost. Sunday looks to repeat that pattern with high pressure sitting over us so dry and cold it is.

Weather Outlook

A tricky one to predict i think because high pressures have a habit of weakening / strengthening against the forecasters predictions so here goes….

It looks like at present the high pressure of the coming weekend will not stay around too long and a new, northerly low will push it out of the way in time for the beginning of next week but it’ll go reluctantly so the west could start off unsettled, whereas the south and east will stay dry and cold. So westerly winds and rain for Ireland and then the west on Monday, but dry and settled elsewhere. This low pressure is set to rattle through quickly so after a wet interlude on Tuesday for most areas, there’s a prediction that a new high pressure will form and return us to northerly winds, colder air and dry, settled conditions for the remainder of next week. That means cold, dry with overnight frost, just what we need really….

Agronomic Notes

As promised last week this is ‘Part II’ of a look back at last year using GDD and rainfall data this time….

Firstly using the data from The Oxfordshire, you can see how November and December really re-wrote the record books in terms of air temperature.

GDDmonthlycomparisonJantoDec2010to2015image

So 2015 will go down as a year that dragged its feet reluctantly into spring, had a so-so summer with another jet stream trough taking care of August and making it a wet, cool month for a number of years in succession. (take this into account when you’re planning your holidays ahaha) Then when we were promised the coldest winter on record leading up to Christmas (Daily Express…) we got the warmest and in some places (but not all) the wettest…just shows that the tabloids are only good for one thing and that’s wrapping Fish & Chips…

Looking at it from a cumulative perspective, 2015 nearly caught up with some of the other years in terms of total GDD, but it wasn’t the warmest, that prize goes to 2015 and 2011.

GDDmonthlycumulativeJantoDec2010to2015image

So let’s look at the data from a regional perspective and here I’m using some of your GDD / Rainfall Spreadsheets (cheers everyone) from the U.K and Ireland.

Regional U.K Data – GDD & Rainfall

UKGDD20154Loc

Above we see 4 locations in the U.K and how their respective GDD mapped out over the year, we can see that for most areas  ;

  1. March was little warmer than January everywhere…
  2. The west was significantly warmer than the east of the U.K through April and May, look at York for instance….
  3. East Anglia (Aldeburgh actually) had a much warmer summer through July, August and September and that’s courtesy of picking up continental weather patterns, so I’ll be putting my bathing towel down on Wells-Next-The-Sea beach shortly…:)
  4. The north east sat cooler pretty much all year and showed the effect of the north – south temperature divide that we saw on more than a few occasions in 2015.

See isn’t GDD and G.P information useful ?

UKRainfall20156Loc

Moving onto rainfall, I’ve used some extra locations here and one in particular (see above) will make you appreciate how easy life is in the south of England (and yes I know it’s wet, but there’s wet and there’s WET!)

So what were the rainfall trends in 2015 ?

  1. There were two distinct geographical divides in 2015, west to east and north to south, that is to say the west and north picked up more rainfall.
  2. When the jet stream was at its strongest, it pushed rainfall from The Atlantic into the west and north of the country. During 2015, this was during January, February,  November and December.
  3. The north / south divide in terms of rainfall was most evident in the first and last three months of the year.
  4. Central and eastern England appear to be consistently drier and although Thame is further west than York or Aldeburgh, it obviously misses out on the westerly rain band, which to my feeling seems to follow the M5 / M6 / M74 up north…

 OK onto the Irish data…

Looking at 4 locations across Ireland we can see some similar patterns in terms of geographical location and rainfall, temperature patterns…

IrelandGDD20154Loc

So the Irish data tells us ;

  1. Valentia has a consistently mild, but consistently wet climate, no surprise here as it’s pretty much the first place that Atlantic low pressure systems make landfall. That means in the winter it stays mild and this temperature advantage extends into the spring with the first four months of the year milder at Valentia than the other locations in Ireland.
  2. It’s not until June that the other areas catch up with Valentia in terms of monthly GDD. Before you all re-locate, mildness in Ireland is a double-edged sword as we will see with the rainfall data. 🙂
  3. North and west was the worst combination for temperature in 2015. Claremorris had approximately 15% less growth potential over a year than Dublin.
  4. Dublin and Cork in 2015 were very evenly matched with very similar temperatures for July and August. This is I think because they’re both on eastern coasts (Ok Cork is south east) and so part-protected from Atlantic westerlies.

IrelandRainfall20154Locs

Looking at rainfall we see a similar pattern….

  1. Valentia is consistently the wettest location through the year, but Claremorris follows the same pattern in the months when the jet stream was strongest, January, February, November and December.
  2. Casement (Dublin) tends to be shielded from the summer trough pattern to a certain extent and this was demonstrated by a very dry summer and autumn by Irish standards compared to other locations.
  3. When the jet stream was at its strongest for pushing in Atlantic low pressure systems during December, being west of the U.K spared no area of Ireland in terms of rainfall.
  4. The east coast of Ireland (Casement) though drier than the west, receives approximately twice the rainfall of the east coast of England. (E.Anglia)

Download pdf of all the U.K and Irish data here

Back to the present..

The current wet weather means in reality very few of us are able to do very much practically out on the golf course or sports facility unless you’re sat on pure sand or sand-capped 🙂 At least the continual deluge we’ve all suffered (albeit to different degrees) looks in some way to come to an end later this week and although we won’t be totally dry, we will be drier.

And colder, which is precisely what we need because hard frosts on wet soil will open up the profile. (as it goes through the freeze and thaw cycles) Unfortunately we will also see that tricky phenomenon when a hard frost is going out of a wet soil and the top surface becomes unstable. One to watch over the weekend I’m afraid.

Grub Activity

With no Chlorpyrifos available for use last autumn, this will be the first spring when we see the effects of its withdrawal from the market. With a super-warm November and December it is likely that over-wintering populations will be high. I’ve already had reports of pecking activity from Corvids (Birds of the Crow family) on some sites and I’ve seen a evidence of Badger damage recently whilst out walking. Chafer Grubs have also been evident close to the surface recently but we can expect the hard frosts that are forecast to knock these down deeper in the soil profile thankfully.

No Growth is Good Growth….

Not surprisingly with the forecast we can expect to see little or no shoot / top growth over the next 7-10 days which to my mind is a godsend for many reasons. Firstly, it allows the plant to re-direct some of its resources towards root rather than shoot development. Secondly, it won’t be making more organic matter that we will need to remove when and if the opportunity arises. Thirdly, I think it’ll re-set its biological clock with a period of winter dormancy. The same is true for all outside plant species. Lastly, it won’t present you guys with the prospect of growth without the opportunity to cut.

I can’t help feeling that the unnaturally high air temperature in December caused the grass plant to grow too strongly at a time of year when it isn’t supposed to. With low light levels that growth was likely to be more elongated in nature and with a succulent leaf tissue. Such a combination does not bode well for wear-resistance so it’ll be no surprise to me to see areas of turf thinning.

BTME Headland Weathercheck Site

For those of you heading up to Harrogate next week to attend BTME, if you want to keep up to date with the weather, here’s our link GPS’ed onto the roof of the conference centre 🙂

Click here for a forecast for BTME 2016

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Ok that’s me done, head scrambled full of data, I think I need a lie down 🙂

All the best..

Mark Hunt