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  • Writer's pictureMark Hunt

13th May, 2024

Hi All,

Just back from a nice campervan weekend in North Norfolk where I learnt several important lessons. The first was not to disable my notifications from Aurora Watch UK with the result I slept through a great Northern Lights display on Friday night and the following night we had Haar !!

The second was that I was also reminded of Newton's 3rd law which states that for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction. So while most of you were basking in 23°C+ on Saturday, courtesy of warm air convection currents, I was on the receiving end of the opposite process - Advection.

Advection or more specifically Sea Fog - Haar caused by advection, occurs when warm air moves over a cold sea. The cold sea temperature cools the air above to its dew point temperature, water vapour condenses from the air and fog is formed. You can just see it in the image top left hovering over the campsite and delivering a chilly 12.6°C air temperature. Walking a couple of miles inland, the fog cleared and we were 10°C warmer. Later in the walk we were back on the coast at Cromer and it was back to freezing again. A real Ying and Yang day. I did find a nice colony of Sand Martins nesting in the cliff face but where are all the Swifts this year, they are noticeable by their absence ?

Big changes on the weather front today that actually started yesterday with some serious storms over Wales, the Welsh Borders and west Midlands.

General Weather Situation w/c - 13-05-24

As hinted above and predicted last week, this week is a very different animal from last week's settled high pressure scenario. The jpeg from above highlights the changed weather dynamic with low pressure holding the stage and that means a change in wind direction and of course rain. We are also in a trough pattern in the jet stream which means that low pressure system won't be in a hurry to go anywhere. In actual fact looking at the projections I expect this low pressure to now hang around for over a fortnight in one form or another.

This rain is already affecting the south east and east of Ireland / south west of England, as you can see from this snippet from This rain dynamic is typical of what we can expect from a southerly-biased low pressure system and explains why Cork and Wexford have shown some very high seasonal rainfall totals over recent years. So Monday starts with a west-east split. Wet and cloudy across the west although as you can see, this rain has already cleared the west and south west of Ireland. It is slow-moving so during Monday it'll edge eastwards and northwards so by early afternoon it'll affect an area from The South West right along the west coast to the west of Scotland. Through Monday into Tuesday, it'll cross the U.K meaning I will have a very wet install tomorrow !!!:( As that rain and cloud push in, we drop our temperature into the high teens but where it is yet to reach (eastern areas), you'll hold onto temperatures similar to the weekend.

Tuesday sees that slow-moving rain front cross over to the east of the country with the west now drier. Not completely dry though as another front of rain associated with that low will affect the southern and south eastern areas of Ireland. Curiously this rain will move westwards through the day into the south west and west of Ireland. By dusk on Tuesday that rain should have edged out into The North Sea but still some rain will linger over Central Scotland. 16-17°C will be typical with a southerly / south easterly wind perhaps 18-19°C over England.

Wednesday looks a drier day, still with showers across the southern half of Ireland, west coast, West Wales and the The Midlands, but definitely drier than the start of the week. That said there's a chance of rain lingering over Suffolk and North Norfolk early doors. As we move into Thursday we will be drier initially but first up we see the wind change to a north easterly and that'll mean a reappearance of rain, some of it heavy moving into the south east and east of England during the morning. This will push inland during the morning moving westerly into The Midlands and Wales during the afternoon / evening. Drier further north and into Scotland but that showery outlook will continue for the south of Ireland.

Friday looks a much better day after those depart the west, drier and a little warmer as that wind swings round to the south and drops in intensity. Still with some showers around across the southern half of England and Ireland. In fact the outlook for the weekend is really sunshine and showers with that north easterly wind reappearing. Temperatures remaining in the high teens which is kind of nice and pleasant really, despite the wind direction.

Weather Outlook - w/c 20-05-24

As mentioned earlier in this blog, the low pressure system that is set to change our weather dynamic this week is set to remain a feature of our weather w/c 20th May. As I have discussed before a trough pattern in the jet stream = slow-moving low pressure systems. Whatever the reason behind it, slow moving, southerly-biaised, low pressure systems are a feature of modern-day weather for the U.K & Ireland and this introduces a different rainfall dynamic to what we used to have (I think) .

So next week sees low pressure still a feature of our weather. Sitting to the south west of the U.K, just below Ireland, it'll pull in easterly winds across the U.K and rain for Monday and Tuesday for the southern half of the U.K and Ireland. The north and Scotland look drier. Wednesday sees a drier dynamic, still some showers around before things start to change on Thursday as that low edges closer to Ireland and pushes rain into Ireland later on Thursday. Friday looks a wet one as a band of rain pushes into the south of Ireland and England / Wales and moves northwards. The weekend after looks sunshine and showers but currently as we move into the w/c 27th May, that low is still shaping our weather picture.

Agronomic Notes

Well I think one of the continuing issues this year is maintaining good surfaces despite the maxed out growth levels and continual rainfall. Certainly the former is the easier to manage, because we know culturally we can verticut, topdress and roll when we have good growth levels. Better to have growth than to have not in most cases. Certainly the number of images of nice greens and pitches that hardly seem to need a renovation at season end are a testament to this.

There is of course a muddier flipside to this coin and it relates to the maintenance of fairways, semi roughs and pitches on heavy soils with poor drainage characteristics and ever-present earthworm castings (because worms love a wet year most of the time). Talking to a superintendent last week and he was bemoaning the 'nth' time they have had to pull a rough mower out of a muddy area because it was stuck and how the fairways are struggling for density because of smeared earthworm castings. Just getting out and getting a good dry cut in is a significant management operation.

Then of course you have the loss of buggy revenue and management who want to keep the course open vs. punters who believe it should have been closed and want a refund. Not an easy dynamic to manage with the superintendent / groundsman often caught in the middle. Tricky.

Last week, I compared growth levels y.t.d 2024 vs. 2023 to demonstrate how much further we are ahead. This week I have compiled a rainfall comparison across the U.K and Ireland from Jan 1st - April 30th, because it remains our biggest challenge. True we did pick up some higher E.T days last week but the forecast is pretty low pressure-centric for at least the next 7-14 days, so it remains a problem for many.

Here's a comparison of U.K locations rainfall-wise ;

Some hefty rainfall totals there for 2024 bearing in mind last year we had the driest February since the 1930's. Some real increases year-on-year with some of the biggest increases in the middle of the country and across Scotland. It isn't all about the % increase, some areas like The South West, Wales and The North West haven't shown large increases necessarily, but their rainfall totals are traditionally high and this year they're higher. Some areas of The South West and Wales are > 1,000mm y.t.d as I type.

Here's the rainfall picture across Ireland ;

Firstly, the totals and range of rainfall for Ireland is quite similar to the U.K.

Again you can see the pattern we have seen before, that of southern and south easterly locations, Wexford for example, showing very high increases vs. prior year. This is a direct consequence of the rainfall associated with Bay of Biscay low pressure systems and their propensity to affect the southern half of the country, but particularly the south east. Very similar patterns to the U.K, wet in the south and north west, drier in the east and north east and big increases across the south east and central areas. It's interesting for me to see this but hard for you guys and girls to have to maintain, that I know and accept.

As commented on before, the plus point to this time of year and heading into the summer is the higher potential for higher E.T when it comes to evaporating moisture from sodden surfaces. The Prodata Report for May '24 shows 23.2mm of rain so far this month vs. 30.6mm of E.T, so we are in a slight soil moisture deficit situation at this south of England location. I have also highlighted the daily E.T levels from the prior week, just edging this side of 4.0mm moisture loss per day and that was with light winds. So yes we are in for more rain this week but every sunshine and shower day is likely to result in more moisture loss unless you get dumped on of course :)

Ok, that's me for another week, I am off to see my shoulder consultant (The Blonde Assassin) for another needle jobbie :)

All the best.

Mark Hunt

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