Hi All,

What a difference 7 days makes! The weekend before this one I was cycling in shorts and a T-shirt, last Saturday I was suited up like a Winter Robin! Got a picture to emphasise how confused nature is last week (thanks Jeff), this Cherry (I think, never been good on tree I.D) is clearly under the impression that spring has arrived, it’s probably under a few cm of snow today! We had the dawn chorus kicking off in early January, as the birds were thinking spring was here, but I can tell you they’ve been very quiet of late.

Sure enough the snow has fallen overnight for some of us as that rain front from the west hit the cold air from the east, a la Friday’s blog. We’ve had a couple of cm here and I expect this to be added to during the day, before turning to rain later (hopefully). That mild air that I was projecting this time last week isn’t now going to get any further than Ireland during the week, so the outlook remains cold with further snow at the end of the week. I note the usual media-sensation headlines on the news, but as you’ll see if you click on this link, the BBC meteorologists are basically saying their (Met Office) forecast models can’t really forecast with much accuracy at the moment because of uncertainties in the jet-stream, (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21002626) there’s also a good explanation of why the weather is like this as well, i.e. topsy-turvy. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/20998895)

General Weather Situation

The next band of rain, sleet and snow showers are already moving in-land and currently stretches from Aberdeen down to Cornwall. These will slowly move eastwards during the day, initially falling as snow from The Midlands east of this, but as rain and sleet further west where the milder air sits. Through the day as temperatures creep up, the snow is projected to turn to rain for most areas of the U.K, so that should clear any accumulations away. As we head into the evening, temperatures drop and then there’s a risk of the reverse happening along the east coast in particular, with snow showers projected to push in from The North Sea over the east and south-east areas of the U.K. For Tuesday, the risk of snow showers along the east coast remains, but inland it’ll be crisp, dry and frosty. By the end of Tuesday evening and overnight into Wednesday, a band of rain (|) pushes into west Connacht and Munster and moves eastwards, turning to snow over the mountains, so maybe a nice temporary dusting on Lugnaquilla. For the U.K, Wednesday looks to be cold and dry, with a hard overnight frost and perhaps the chance of some snow showers again for the far east coast of England. Thursday follows a similar pattern for the U.K, dry, cold, with a hard frost but in Ireland that rain will be reluctant to leave the east coast of Munster, Leinster and it’ll soon be joined by another band of heavish rain moving across Ireland (|) during Thursday and hitting the cold air over the U.K on Friday, so this is the day to watch in terms of further potential snowfall. If anything the chance of snow, rather than rain, is more likely on Friday because the colder air is more entrenched over the U.K mainland. So at present a high snow risk for Friday and perhaps extending overnight into Saturday. The weekend is a very hard one to call, as we have a pretty serious low pressure system on its way to us, packed with isobars, so it’ll be noticeably more windy, with the wind direction coming from the west, south-west. My take is that Saturday will start off cold with initially some snow showers over Scotland and the north of England, but further south I think it’ll start dry and when the moisture arrives later, it’ll fall as snow initially, but turn to rain later in the day. Sunday looks at this stage a very wet, windy day and pretty cold, but I think it’ll be rain, rather than snow we’re dealing with. If this changes I’ll update you at the end of the week.

 Weather Outlook

Next weeks weather looks to be dominated by this significant low pressure system that arrives at the weekend, so I think it’ll be very windy and wet, although with a bit of a milder airstream, at least for the south of England and Ireland. For Scotland and the north of England, this rain could easily fall as snow and if so, they’ll be significant falls with drifting. Thereafter, I think we’ll be mild seeing out January.

Agronomic Notes

Firstly, thanks for all your rainfall stats so far, please keep them coming….so far the driest area is now North Kent and the wettest, Devon.

My main contribution to agronomic notes was on Friday with the blog about Fusarium scarring and it’s development. Had a number of emails after I posted this and one contributor remarked that he had plugged a 2″ active scar to the edge of a green and within days it had grown to hole cup size, so the activity level during that mild spell was quite serious.

Next week, I’m doing a talk at BTME, just a quick 30-minute fringe jobbie and, as usual, I’m going to discuss (briefly) our 2012 weather, but put forward the scenario of what might happen if we have a peak weather event over the summer (so far this has not occurred). If it did occur, it would allow prolonged warm, hot conditions to extend into the U.K and bring record high temperatures, E.T and the like. Difficult to imagine now in the middle of January, but the fact is going forward we have to kit ourselves out to manage both extremes of temperature and rainfall. This encompasses drainage, irrigation, fertility, PGR’s, disease management and of course grass species. As two islands, I think we’re going to be protected to a certain extent, but if it does occur, it’s the south-east that’ll cop it for sure.

If you’re at Harrogate and have time, come along and listen, it’ll be in the Queens Suite on Wednesday from 12.00-12.30 p.m., it’s first-come, first-served and I think they’re are 28 places left. Ok advertising over, I move onto the interesting bit because I posed a question to a good chap over the Atlantic, Jon Scott, who is VP of Agronomic Services, Nicklaus Design. Jon and I exchange emails on an infrequent basis, but he gets to see a lot of turf situations in the U.S, so I asked him if he’s seeing the same issues as we are with weather extremes, bearing in mind the sub-polar jet stream that affects us, also flows across the U.S.

Below is his reply…..

“Mark, there is no doubt that we are being affected by the same jet stream meanderings and the associated extremes. For instance, Michigan, and particularly Northern Michigan is going through one of the mildest winters on record – moderate temperatures and low snowfall totals – which will not help raise the low water levels in the Great Lakes one bit. I was just passing through Western North Carolina on the way back to Florida and saw a Smokey Mountain reservoir that was clearly down by at least 20 ft from its former capacity. I was in Oklahoma in December (Stillwater) and noted that the residents are worried that another dust bowl scenario is setting up. Yet heavy rainfall continues to plague the Gulf Coast States and Florida as we speak. It is common practice here now for golf courses that have successfully maintained bentgrass greens for years in the transition zone are now switching to bermuda. Chicago and Detroit now find themselves in the transition zone, as does Milwaukee and Cleveland. Common bermuda is being found growing as far north as Pennsylvania and Ohio. Thus, our management dynamics are changing also and superintendents are struggling to figure out the right formulas for success. One wonders how many years of “highest temperatures on record” we will see before things stabilize. I’ll leave the reasons why up to the scientists like yourself. I never got caught up in the Global Warming Debate because for me there was no debate. This didn’t start happening yesterday. The key is for those who don’t want to believe that excess carbon is causing the problem at least acknowledge that the climate is changing and that we must change with it. There are no options to do otherwise”

Plenty to chew about on their side of the pond it seems…..

Ok, better get that talk written else we’re all going to be looking at a blank screen !!!!

Mark Hunt