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  • Writer's pictureMark Hunt

February 5th, 2024

Updated: Feb 12

Hi All,


Well after a nice weekend when for the 1st time this year you could feel the warmth in the sun and notice how the evenings are really stretching out, one could be forgiven that the worst of winter is behind us, but of course we have only just tip-toed into February. Nevertheless the drier weather we have had of late has allowed some good work to have been undertaken, some drier cuts and a feeling that spring is around the corner.

February 2023, was an unusually dry and mild month, a one in nearly 100 year event it seems. February 2024 will definitely not follow the same pattern despite the promising start. This week we lose the protective high pressure and see a battle commence between colder air in the north and milder air in the south. Where they intersect later this week is likely to see some significant snow, but where that line exactly lies is going to be a tricky call that will no doubt change as we get nearer to the time.



Image courtesy of tropicaltidbits.com


General Weather Situation - w/c - 05-02-24


So this week we start with that protective high pressure still in place but it is due to be edged out as we move towards mid-week as the jet stream drops south and opens the door to colder air from the north and wetter air from the west. Where they meet is likely to be the snowfall area.


For Monday though we have another mild and breezy day across the bulk of the U.K & Ireland with that south westerly airstream still firmly in place. Further north across Scotland, we will see a different day with a band of rain extending across northern Scotland for the whole day. This rain band will slowly sink south into The Borders later in the day after dark. Some of this rain will turn to snow over elevation. As you'd expect there will be a differential temperature-wise with 10-12°C across Ireland, England and Wales vs. 7-10°C across Scotland.


Tuesday sees band of rain dropping south overnight into Northern Ireland and the north of England by dawn and then slowly slipping further south into Ireland, Wales, The Midlands and East Anglia during the course of the day, clearing the north as it does. The southern half of England may not see this rain till later on Tuesday evening. Being a slow-moving band of rain, we can expect rainfall totals to be significant. Temperature-wise we stay mild in the south but colder air is now across Scotland so 6-8°C across the latter, but 11-12°C across Ireland, England and Wales. Breezy from the south west again.


Mid-week and overnight that band of rain has stayed in situ across the southern half of England and by rush hour on Wednesday morning, it'll still be sitting there. It won't be till the early afternoon before it finally exits stage right into The Channel. Once this rain has cleared it will be a dry day for just about everywhere on Wednesday but a noticeably colder one as the wind turns abruptly round to the east. So a halving of the temperature mid-week with 6-7°C and a biting wind chill in place. As go into Wednesday night we see the next rain front push into the south west of Ireland and England and it's this band of moisture that holds the key. It'll feature significant rainfall and therefore some daily totals will be high I am afraid.


Thursday sees that band of heavy rain across all of Ireland and half of the U.K from northern England southwards. Now where this band of moisture butts up against the cold air across the north of England, we are likely to see heavy snowfall. The same goes for Ireland. As I type this, the snow line is across Connacht, Northern Ireland and Northern England across The Pennines. Now this is the feature to check this week because it is likely to change, swinging north or south possibly. Regardless Thursday will be a pretty grim day, very wet and cold with temperatures in the 3-6°C region. As we progress through Thursday this band of rain, wintry showers and snow heads north, clearing the north of England / Ireland and seems to vector more towards The North East and Central / Eastern Scotland. The wind will be a pick and mix job changing throughout the day as the low tracks across the U.K. Later in the day we see more rain push into the south west of Ireland and England and track northwards overnight into Friday. Again there's a threat that this band of rain will convert into wintry showers and snow, this time further south.


Friday sees that band of moisture sitting across the southern half of England, The Midlands and north of England in a mix of rain, sleet and snow. Again exactly where the line lies is anyone's guess at the moment but we could see snowfall across the south of England / Midlands on Friday morning. If we don't it'll just be rain. This band of wintry weather is on a west-east trajectory so that means Ireland will have a reasonably dry one as will the far north of England and Scotland. I say reasonably dry but there's a risk of showers and heavier rain moving up the Wexford coast into Meath. It'll take most of the day for that band of wintry showers / rain to move off east but still it'll leave behind showers and some crappy, mizzly stuff. Temperature-wise, 4-8°C, so feeling chilly.


The outlook for the weekend is mixed starting off pretty dull, cloudy, cold and mainly dry on Saturday. This cloud base will slowly clear from the west so Ireland will see brighter weather push in from the west during the course of the day. Now although it'll be a pretty dry start to the weekend on Saturday, there will be showers across the south of England during Saturday and these may change to a more wintry status during Sunday morning with wintry showers likely across southern counties. Remaining cold with 6-8°C and a significant wind chill with a chilly north easterly wind in place for the weekend which will swing round to the north west through Sunday. This change in wind direction will bring more rain across Ireland and the north west of England later on Sunday.


So keep your eyes peeled on the forecast for the end of the week and see if that line of wintry showers moves north or south.




Weather Outlook - w/c - 12-02-24


So we start next week with low pressure in charge but we will see a change in the wind direction to the south west and therefore milder air is more likely. It is a tricky one to forecast next week as we have low pressure sitting out to the west and high pressure trying to assert itself from the south. So Monday and Tuesday looks drier and milder with a risk of showers across Ireland, The North West and Scotland. As we approach mid-week, next week, we will see a more concentrated period of rain push into Ireland and the U.K and this looks to last through to Thursday with showers remaining once the main rain front has pushed through on Wednesday. The wind direction looks to be southerly / south westerly, so I think milder air should be in place with temperatures into double figures. A mixed week with I think more risk of rain across the north and west.


Agronomic Notes


Last week I talked about how the end of January and 1st week of February presented a nice weather window to get on with some early season aeration and looking at the FB pages I can see many of you guys were busy doing just that. In combination with the drier conditions we have also had some nice temperatures and therefore Growth Potential to begin the recovery process. I normally work on a total G.P figure of around 9.0 to gain good recovery from aeration but of course it does depend on nutrition, grass species, type of aeration, etc. If you did aeration in August / September, usually we have very good daily G.P figures then, typically around optimum (0.90 - 1.0) and you'd expect full recovery within 10 days (so that's 10 x 0.90 = total G.P of 9.0). Now OK day length is longer at that time of year than it is now but I'm not sure that it makes much odds.



Above is the image of the completed work (Cheers Mark), so it'll be interesting to track the recovery status vs. G.P at this course. If we look at an example from last year and assume aeration was done at the end of January (as indeed it was), you can see from the graph below, that we hit a cumulative G.P of 9.5 - 10.0 by the end of March. (Note - March 2023 was cold and wet)



At the end of the day what we are doing here is thinking out of the box, working with the weather, disregarding the calendar and not doing things the way we have always done them.


Image courtesy of the USGA Record


Coincidentally or maybe not, the latest edition of the USGA Record dropped into my Inbox on Friday and discusses the merits / challenges of renovation projects, working with the weather and resource limitation. Now the article is more focussed on renovation projects but it does make some very good points. A lot of facilities utilise their in-house labour to do winter projects but of course it is the same people / resources that are required to do the maintenance and that can make life tricky. It is worth a read, you can find it here.



Last week I also talked about early season granular fertilisation as a way of taking advantage of these weather windows to recover from early aeration, disease scarring and the like and in so doing make life easier when we get to the spring, with less requirement for nutrition in March and April. This week coming offers a good opportunity for this, especially if you are looking to treat Moss with a high iron product. There's plenty of moisture to pre-wet the moss, break down the granule and minimise foot tracking / staining. So if you have the time to apply before the rain / sleet / snow arrives (delete where applicable), it will be worthwhile.


2023 Growth Potential - Irish Locations


Last week I looked at the difference across the U.K in 2023 from a monthly Growth Potential perspective and promised to do the same for Ireland this week. As a man of my word, here it is ;



No surprises that the furthest south westerly location in Ireland (Valentia) comes out tops from a G.P perspective as the graph clearly shows. If you can remember back to last week (and I admit I struggle sometimes😀), it was the furthest, south westerly location that I monitored (Okehampton)that came out tops in the total G.P for U.K locations. Before there is collective patting on backs, we must also acknowledge that these locations are also amongst the wettest as well and the combination of high rainfall and high growth levels presents a headache on occasion !!! .


This week and last I discussed early season aeration and you can see that during February and March '23, all Irish locations easily surpassed that cumulative G.P figure of 9.0-10.0 required for recovery for February and March. With Ireland lying further to the west and therefore further away from the colder land mass of continental Europe during the winter, it takes advantage of a milder airstream. (milder and wetter usually) The effects of this can be seen with higher winter G.P than the U.K locations. The same is true in the summer with less effect from the warmer continent, the further west you go and so it doesn't tend to hit the same numbers in June, July and August as locations across The Irish Sea.


Do the two balance out across the year I wonder, milder winters and not so hot summers ?


Well as a matter of interest, I graphed out the U.K and Irish locations together to see how they compared in terms of total G.P for 2023 and as you can see they are well mixed.


No clear U.K / Irish divide here then eh ?


Location

Total 2023 G.P

Valentia

201.86

Okehampton

195.82

Flempton

181.92

Johnstown Castle

181.38

Casement

173.05

Rotherham

172.50

Cork

172.37

Gurteen

171.05

Claremorris

169.27

Dumbarton

156.75

OK, that's me done this week, time to hit the road to Nottingham City for another timely shoulder jobbie with 'The Blond Assassin' (my nickname for my brilliant pain management consultant!) .


All the best for the coming week, wrap up well and keep an eye on the specific forecasts for Thursday / Friday and that mild air / cold air transition line, chances are it'll move.


Mark Hunt

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