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  • Writer's pictureMark Hunt

September 6th

Hi All,


Well, I'm on yet another break (I have semi-sort of retired you know), this time in the lovely (and very Welsh) town of Pwllheli. To keep continuity, I wanted to do a short (ish) blog as there's lots going on both agronomically and meteorologically.

Out walking to Criccieth yesterday with Snowdon bobbing around in the background I was enjoying the wildness of the place when I noted some Crows and Gulls gathered on the beach. Being an inquisitive sort of chap, I walked over and found a young Razorbill in distress and a very sorry state. The best thing to have done was probably to put it out of its misery but the afore-mentioned were well on their way to doing that. A little further along the coast I saw a Gannet fly out from some trees which I thought odd as its not their natural habitat. (They are an open sea, cliff dweller)


A couple of minutes later I found the Gannets mate, sitting in a rough meadow, incapacitated. I realised I was looking at the effects of Avian Bird Flu and reading up on the net, the coastline of Wales and some of the islands off it are affected by a highly-transmissible H5N1 variant. It's already affecting the Island of Grassholme, home to the 3rd largest Gannet colony in the world with devastating results. So we have yet another devastating virus from Asia wreaking havoc on our shores and little we can do about it, except report cases to DEFRA and I guess let it run its course. It certainly put a damper on proceedings, I hate to see nature this way.

The flipside of the coin to this negative event was meeting this chap walking on the North Wales Coastal Path. His name is Jim Morton and he's walking the entire coast of mainland Great Britain. He's done 8,000 plus miles so far and is on his last leg around North Wales and hoping to finish at the end of the month. He is raising funds for The Gurkha Welfare Trust. Quite inspirational and a pleasant uplift after the above disturbing finds. He wasn't impressed though when I told him we were walking to Criccieth and getting the bus back 😂

If you feel obliged to donate to his worthy cause as I did, I'm sure he'd be grateful !



General Weather Situation - w/c 05-09-22


So you may remember last week I talked about how the GFS projections indicated the formation of a trough pattern in the jet stream, into which an Atlantic low pressure system was projected to sit for the majority of the week, twirling around on its axis.


Well happily (because we need the rain of course), this has come to pass and since Saturday / Sunday it has been pushing some pretty hefty bands of rain across Ireland and the U.K. The initial bands were accompanied by some pretty active thunder and lightning storms and intense downpours.


The Met Office's ATD Lightning Detection system recorded 9,390 Lightning strikes over a 24-hour period on the 5th September, I can't remember seeing a higher figure.


The images below show the intense rainfall patterns and the pattern and frequency / timing of the lightning strikes.

Last week we recorded a maximum rain rate figure of 172 mm per hour and last weekends downpours were pretty similar at 151 mm per hour, so in other words torrential rain.


I was alerted by my good friend Adam (cheers chap) of these sensational pictures of the storm fronts approaching Portland Bill on Facebook.


thanks to BillWatch of Portland Bill for letting me use them in this blog....


I mean just wow...



So through this week that low pressure will gradually reduce in intensity and move eastwards meaning we will lose the strong southerly winds that have turned the sea here at Pwllheli into the colour of a cup of tea and rendered any thoughts I had of fishing to mere fantasy.....ho hum. So it is a sunshine and showers week with temperatures in the high teens and low twenties, picking up towards the end of the week as the wind lighten and change direction. When I say showers, it is still in the form of some pretty heavy rain so expect to see 10-20 mm daily totals in the forecast, especially for Wales, Ireland and Scotland. As we get to Thursday / Friday, things settle down and we have a much drier picture over the weekend.


Weather Outlook - w/c 12-09-22


Now next week's weather is quite finely balanced because we have two low pressure systems building in the Bay of Biscay. Currently the projection are for the sunshine and showers theme to resume for Scotland and the far southern half of the U.K later on Sunday and persist into the middle part of next week before high pressure builds and pushes any more rain to the north. In-between areas should stay reasonably dry. With high pressure out in The Atlantic, that will pull a cooler, north easterly wind down through next week so I expect temperatures to stay around the high teens. In other words, sort of normal for this time of year like. Beyond that , it look likes we have another Atlantic low pressure system building behind that for the following weekend. I'll end the outlook with a caveat with respect to the behaviour of BOB low pressure systems. They are prone to change direction and could easily nudge up further north in the first part of next week to bring wetter weather to more northerly areas. At present it's the southern half of England and to a certain extent Ireland and Wales that is in the firing line.


Agronomic Notes


So last week I predicted that we would be seeing an increase in disease activity due to the arrival of rainfall and more humid air and sure enough I have had plenty of reports of Anthracnose Foliar Blight, Dollar Spot (even on dormant and dying fairway grass as a host), Microdochium and Etiolated Growth.


I guess you don't have to be a rocket scientist to put 2 and 2 together and get 4 in this case but in some ways it is good to see that the disease models being developed in our industry identified this peak.


I took Smith Kerns Dollar Spot Probability data from 4 locations, Glasgow, Northampton, Guildford and Sevenoaks and plotted out the Smith Kerns Probability for August and up until yesterday.


The results are shown below ;

You can see how the humid air is prevalent in the more southern U.K locations and how the 25th, 26th and 27th of August represented a pronounced peak with the probability rising above 40%. This seems to be a trigger point for some of the above diseases and particularly Anthracnose Foliar Blight, Microdochium and if it is a feature on your course, Dollar Spot. You can also see how the graph is on an upward trajectory currently so I think once we get to the end of this week and high pressure builds, we will also see high pressure from a disease perspective.


It is early for Microdochium to be an issue but with good growth levels we have plenty of time to grow this out, the same with foliar blight, especially if you've been busy renovating and overseeding as this run of weather is absolutely perfect for germination and seedling growth.


Some areas aren't going to come back....


I walked (and later ran!) past a local golf club today and with the last couple of week's of rainfall, you can see areas beginning to recover. What you can also see is darker, black areas that won't be coming back without some help / overseeding.


Areas of green complexes, approaches and raised areas on fairways fell into that category. This isn't a comment on this particular club in any way because I don't know their maintenance plans, budget, resources and the like. I am just highlighting the fact that those months of diminished rainfall and sky high E.T have taken their toll. This type of issue is prevalent across the country.


To finish on a positive, I've seen people renovate and overseed areas well into November with excellent results. Granted they are usually using modern day cultivars of Lolium perenne, but I don't see that as a negative, more a bonus as they have been bred to tolerate high temperature stress and drought.


Next week, I'll have a comprehensive look back at August and discuss Etiolated growth which is pretty rampant at present. If anyone has some positive experiences with eliminating / reducing its severity and wants to share, I'm all ears on markh@weatherstations.co.uk


Till then, all the best...


Mark Hunt

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