131125_gfs_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

Doesn’t time fly? Already the last blog of November and less than a month till the shortest day (Eternal optimist 🙂 ). The meteorological power struggle continues between high pressure blocking that’s keeping us cold and dry and a big trough pattern of cold, Arctic weather sitting to the north of us. Longer term there’s a suggestion that the latter may win and that means cold and snow, but the models disagree on this. We’ll see. Either way for this week, we’re settled…

Dec2013

Current weather vs. 10 days on – Note westerly movement of high pressure system
Images courtesy of Unisys Weather

General Weather Situation

Well this is going to be a very short weather blog, because the conditions are totally settled and dry for 90% of the U.K and Ireland for the majority of this week as that high pressure blocking (shown above left) does its job. Although we’re looking dry for the week (except for the far north-west tip of Scotland, which picks up some rain for the early part of this week), there are some noticeable temperature changes as we go through the week.

As that high pressure centres over the Irish sea, it’ll move the wind away from its current northerly orientation to the north-west and this will pick up the temperature temporarily for Wednesday and Thursday, so milder, perhaps touching double figures in the south. The other difference will be less cloud cover and more sunshine this week as we’ll have lost that north-east wind pushing cloud off The North Sea, so variable cloud and sunshine for most places from Monday to Thursday.

Frost-wise, a lot depends on cloud cover, but I think Monday night / Tuesday morning will be the only frost of this week, as night temperatures will be higher for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. You may have noticed I have kept clear of including Friday in this dry, settled picture and that’s because we have a change on Friday as a trough of cold air pushes down across the U.K.

This cold air arrives initially as rain and then wintry showers over the far north-west of Scotland, early doors Friday. It then moves southwards across the U.K reaching northern England by rush hour as mainly rain, perhaps with some sleet and snow (for higher ground) mixed in.  So this means showers for The Midlands and south of England Friday afternoon before clearing around dusk. Those showers may persist in the north-west of Scotland and England into Friday night, perhaps moving into North Wales as well.

At this stage, it’s looking like a weekend of two halves… For Saturday we have the U.K balanced between high pressure over Ireland and low pressure over the near continent. This means that the bit in the middle gets squeezed and so we’ll have cold, northerly winds pushing in wintry showers for Scotland and the north, most likely along the north-east coast early doors, though the further south you are, the less chance of seeing these at all. For most it’ll be dry, bright at times, but with a strong northerly wind making things feel bitter. By Sunday, the high is projected to push over, so that means cold and dry, with lighter winds. I expect a light ground frost as well, but this depends on cloud cover.

 Weather Outlook

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, the battle is between a warm (ish) high pressure sitting over Ireland and a cold trough of weather sitting over Scandinavia / Siberia. As you can see from the graphic above (Dec 5th), one of the projections is for this trough to push the high westwards, so that means increasingly cold weather will come in, but not everyone agrees on this, so we’ll have to wait to next week’s blog to see.

For next week, I think we’ll start dry and settled, but thereafter depending on which projection is accurate, we’ll either stay dry and settled all week or we’ll pick up a strong northerly / north-westerly airstream that’ll pull cold air and wintry showers into Scotland from mid-week onwards and this will slowly move down the country as the week progresses. So on balance my money is on dry and settled for next week for the bulk of the UK and Ireland, with a chance of the weather breaking down at the end of the week, particularly for Scotland.

 Agronomic Notes

Well dry and settled is I know good news for everyone, it means we get a chance to dry out, golf can continue and the lack of moisture will keep disease pressure nicely low.  That milder weather for mid-week may just give enough temperature during the day and night for positive GDD figures so a touch of growth maybe for greens this week and an ideal opportunity therefore to apply a liquid turf tonic.

Nov271113Peak

When we have these temporary windows, we must exploit them to the full because an air temperature of 10°C means that the grass plant will be receptive to a nutrient application provided it is applied with a low water volume (not more than 400L per hectare) . Nutrient input-wise, it’s clear the plant doesn’t need a lot at the moment, but of course if you’re getting high levels of play and growth rates have been very low of late, you may need a little kick to maintain sward density, particularly on small greens or those designed with limited pin positions.

So I’d be looking to apply 4-5 kg of N/hectare derived from potassium nitrate, ammonium sulphate and the like and of course a tad of iron to maintain colour. You never know, this may be the last opportunity like this in 2013, so it’s a Carpe Diem (seize the day) job in my mind.

The same goes for cultural work, a light brushing to flick out any dead growth at the base of the sward and stand up any leggy plants, prior to cutting, will work nicely during this period.

Ok that’s it for now, I’m off to Ireland to talk at the GCSAI Educational Conference at Croke Park tomorrow, last one on in the program (thanks Damian :)) so I hope everyone attending will have access to some good, strong coffee to keep them awake, up to and during my presentation 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt