Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Coldest This Winter

It was well forecast that this week was going to be the coldest few days of winter and it's certainly turned out to be the case.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records 26-28 February 2018
Early on Wednesday morning the temperature fell to -5.7°C (21.7°F) giving us our lowest temperature of the winter. It's our coldest February day since 08 February 2012 when the temperature fell to -5.9°C (21.4°F) and it's our lowest temperature since 16 January 2013 when it fell to -5.8°C or  21.6°F. It's made it into my list of top 20 coldest days.

Yesterday's list of this year's coldest winter temperatures now reads as follows:
  • Lowest temperature -5.7°C (21.7°F) on 28 February 2018
  • Lowest average daily temperature -1.1°C (30.0°F) on 27 February 2018
  • Lowest daily high temperature 1.3°C (34.3°F) on 27 February 2018

Meanwhile, the snow showers continue to fall. They have been more frequent and heavier so far through Wednesday morning.
 Snowfall - Wednesday morning 28 February 2018

The forecast suggests tonight might be even colder.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

It May Be Some Time Before We Go Positive Again

So far Tuesday as been a day of snow showers as forecast. Between the showers we've had some sunny periods, enough to melt some of the snow that's fallen.

Outside it feels bitterly cold even in the sunshine. One of the points the forecasters have been emphasising is the wind chill factor associated with the easterly breeze.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records 27 February 2018
At 16:00 on Tuesday the temperature has just dipped down to freezing point and, looking at the weather model forecasts for the next few days, it will be awhile before the temperature gets back into positive territory.
Image from web site
As you can see from the above chart which runs to early Friday morning we're forecast to be below zero at least until then. Looking at models which extend the forecasting period then it looks like we might have to wait until Saturday morning before we manage to get above freezing point again. 
Image from web site
This would be an unusual and very cold spell of weather for us. It looks so nice outside through the window.

Forecast Correct - Snow Showers

Monday was declared the coldest day of the year in some places in the UK. I'm not sure it was our coldest day although there are a few different ways of looking at this. The first is simply the lowest temperature we've experienced whilst the second way might be to consider the lowest average daily temperature and thirdly a sort of lowest high if you get my meaning.

Based on the above this winter's coldest days so far are:
  • Lowest temperature -4.3°C (24.3°F) on 23 February 2018
  • Lowest average daily temperature -0.7°C (30.7°F) on 11 December 2017
  • Lowest daily high temperature 1.4°C (34.5°F) on 10 December 2017

In any case it still looks as though Wednesday or Thursday this week will be the coldest day of winter if the forecast is correct.

The forecast for this week has been about right. It's cold and we're getting some snow showers. On Monday morning we'd had the lightest covering of snow.
Snowfall - Monday morning 26 February 2018
Despite the cold temperatures and a few snow flurries throughout the day on Monday the little bit of snow that had fallen melted away. Tuesday morning's covering was a little more but nothing very noteworthy.
Snowfall - Tuesday morning 27 February 2018
The forecast for the next few days is for the snow showers to continue and for the coldest of the weather to have passed by the end of the weekend. Gardening may resume in a week or so.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Not Much Snow So far This Week

As anyone who has seen the news on UK television recently will be aware of the arrival of the "beast from the east" bringing us some very cold and possibly snowy weather. However, we’ve had two sunny, if cold, days over the weekend. On Saturday we had a visit to the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria to do some video and photography on the Settle to Carlisle Railway Line.
Our first location was Dent Head Viaduct to catch 60163 Tornado heading north to Carlisle with the North Briton. Unfortunately Tornado had a fault with its TPWS (Train Protection and Warning System). This meant it was necessary for a diesel locomotive to take over the train. The arrival of the train took us by surprise as it silently sped onto the viaduct.
60163 Tornado with The North Briton at Dent Head Viaduct
A bit disappointing but these things happen and we set off to find somewhere for lunch. In the afternoon we had a trip over Buttertubs Pass.
We finished up in Cumbria before we made our way to Ais Gill, the highest point on the Settle to Carlisle railway, to capture our second steam hauled charter train of the day. This time it was 45699 Galatea with the Cumbrian Mountain Express. 
45699 Galatea with The Cumbrian Mountain Express at Ais Gill
Conditions were excellent with lovely clear blue skies. Galatea certainly shattered the peace as it climbed towards the summit of the Settle to Carlisle Railway.

Below are the two videos we made of our visit to the Dales.

60163 Tornado with The North Briton at Dent Head Viaduct

45699 Galatea with The Cumbrian Mountain Express at Ais Gill

Friday, 23 February 2018

Midnight Potato Rescue!

With all the weather forecasting attention on next week's anticipated cold spell, Thursday night into Friday morning sort of slipped under the radar. Half listening to the weather forecast on TV late last night I heard then give out a severe overnight frost but no temperatures were mentioned and the forecast was soon discussing how cold it was going to be next week. Out of curiosity I checked the outside temperature on my weather station. I got a bit of a surprise.
 Temperatures Records for 23 February 2018
The temperature approaching midnight was already well below freezing. I wondered how low it would fall if it was so cold already and would our seed potatoes survive in the greenhouse. After a quick chat with Sue, we decided it was better to be safe than sorry and nearing midnight I headed up to the greenhouse by torch light to collect our seed potatoes. As a temporary measure they were left on the kitchen floor overnight.
The temperature continued to fall through the night, eventually falling to -4.3°C or 24.3°F. That's our lowest of the year, and for the winter too, beating the previous low of -3.2°C (26.2°F) on 11 December 2017.

The forecast for next week remains cold with severe overnight frost and daytime temperatures struggling to reach 0°C (32°F) so we'll have to put our thinking caps on as to the best place to store our seed potatoes over the next week or so. We need somewhere light and frost free.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Might Move My Potatoes - Again!

I might just have to consider moving my seed potatoes for a second time since they went into the greenhouse to chit at the beginning of February. We've had a few milder days just recently but that might be about to change.
I've posted several times about the sudden stratospheric warming that took place a week or so ago. It seems like it's now planning to affect our weather. The computerised weather models are now predicting the setting up of a blocking system of high pressure, initially over the country, but then gradually moving north. The exact position of the centre of this high pressure system will have a pretty dramatic effect on our weather.
Image from website
The chart above shows all the 20 different model runs of the GFS (Global Forecasting System) for the temperatures at 2.0m above ground level. This is the output from the midnight run on 20 February. The whole model runs four times a day at six hourly intervals. Briefly the output shows some solutions give mild temperatures, above 10°C or 50°F whilst one colder solution goes for a temperature of -10°C or 14°F. The thick white line shows the mean value of all the runs. The chart below shows all the predicted variations in temperature for 06:00 on Wednesday, 28 February
Image from website
This week the daytime temperature is forecast to fall gradually from today's 8°C (45.4°F) down to 0°C (32.0°F) by next Monday, 26 February and it's not forecast to get above freezing for a couple of days. There will be several nights of fairly severe frosts should this forecast turn out to be accurate. You can see that there's good agreement regarding the forecast for just a few days in advance but then there becomes a large variation in temperatures beyond that.

I'll give it a couple of more days before deciding if I need to move my seed potatoes out of the greenhouse and summerhouse to somewhere frost free. As meteorological spring begins at the beginning of March the coldest spell of winter might arrive. 

Monday, 19 February 2018

Serious Pruning!

We've paid a couple of visits to the plot over the last few days. We wanted to get a couple of outstanding tidying up jobs done. One task was to cut back our buddleia bushes and the second one was to cut back a self sown hawthorn tree growing next to the plot greenhouse. The latter was going to be the more difficult job.

First job was the buddleia bushes.
  In full flower summer 2017
It didn't take long to cut the bushes back to almost ground level but like all these types of jobs we're left with an enormous pile of clippings to deal with.
I'll recycle as many of these prunings as possible for pea sticks and the like for use through summer. The remaining odds and ends will go onto the compost heap. There aren't many sections of thick stems so I'm not anticipating much waste material. The main problem may well be that some of the prunings will root and grow when pushed into the ground when used as pea sticks even after they've just been left in a heap for a few months.

The second job of cutting back the hawthorn tree was a much trickier operation. The tree is situated alongside the greenhouse and I didn't want branches falling onto the greenhouse and damaging the glazing.
Ideally we'd have cut back the tree several years ago now but never got round to it. Without its canopy of leaves it doesn't look too large but in full leaf it is quite a specimen. It's loved by the birds so they are going to be disappointed although they don't use it for nesting in. It took some careful cutting back to try to ensure that the branches didn't fall onto the greenhouse.
By the end of the afternoon the job was done without any damage. It's left more large heaps of prunings which will need to be dealt with before the start of the growing season.

These trimmings will be dealt with in the same way as the buddleia ones except with a little bit more care as they are very prickly.
Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Thursday, 15 February 2018

More On That Stratospheric Warming.

Wednesday produced another miserable February day. After a very cold frosty start the day really made no effort to warm up. It wasn't a day for gardening. We had some sleety rain in the afternoon for good measure.
Temperature, Windchill & Rainfall Records 12-14 February 2018
It would appear that the forecast stratospheric warming event has starting and is taking place through this week. We will have to wait a while to see what the changes are to our weather. They may be good or may be bad and also depend on your point of view. As a gardener I don't want a very cold spell of weather as I'd appreciate some milder conditions so I can start to sow a few seeds.

I have spotted these 2 explanations of the stratospheric warming event which explain better than I can the process that is occurring and its possible effects.

From The Met Office - Weather Forecast Plus Sudden Stratospheric Warning

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Didn't See This Forecast!

Wednesday wasn't much of day to do any gardening. It was cold and dull all day with the afternoon temperature only managing 5.0°C (41.0°F) which is below average for the middle of February. I've now got my new greenhouse thermometer and in the sunless conditions it wasn't much warmer in the greenhouse at 7.3°C (45.1°F) in the middle of the afternoon.
Now, as I remember, the weather forecast on Tuesday went something like - a frosty start into Tuesday night with milder wet and windy weather arriving through the night. - That didn't happen and Wednesday morning produced the coldest temperature of the year falling to -2.9°C (26.8°F) as measured by my weather station. 
In the greenhouse my new thermometer recorded a temperature of -3.2°C (26.2°F) only marginally different from my weather station. I know from past measurements that there's very little difference between outdoor temperatures and those in the greenhouse on very cold nights.
I'll have to have a look in the greenhouse to see if our seed potatoes that are chitting away in there have survived the keen frost.

Our coldest day of winter still remains 11 December 2017 at -3.2°C (26.2°F) and the coldest February temperature I've recorded over the last eight years was on 11 February 2012 at -5.9°C or 21.4°F.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Not My Idea of a Beautiful Day

A couple of BBC weather presenters commented on Sunday night what a beautiful day Sunday had been. In my mind Sunday hadn't been anything at all like a beautiful day as we'd had frequent showers of rain, sleet or snow and a strong to gale force bitingly cold wind. 
Temperature, Wind Chill and Rainfall Records for 11 February 2018
For most of the day the temperature wasn't much above freezing and the wind chill knocked a couple of degrees off that. 

Overnight into Monday morning we've had a dusting of snow.
Monday, 12 February 2018
The forecast doesn't hold out much hope of the temperatures improving very much over the next few days. Tomorrow looks like there might be a bit of snow about.
Precipitation Type Forecast from
Gardening activities continue to be on hold!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

A Sudden Stratospheric Warming - Gardeners Beware!

February has got off to a fairly cold start with temperatures generally below average. It's not been exceptionally cold but daytime temperatures haven't managed to live up to what we might expect.
 Temperature Records for February 2018
It's that time of year when as gardeners we're getting that rather irresistible temptation to start sowing some seeds. I'm trying hard to resist and I'm planning on restricting any February sowings to some broad beans, leeks and maybe some early potatoes in sacks. All these will be sown in the greenhouse and they'll grow on in there until some warmer weather arrives. That's my plan.
However, there's another reason why I ought to wait a while before sowing too many seeds. There's a sudden stratospheric warming supposedly taking place this weekend. I'm not going to go into details of this event but if you would like to read about it in more depth there's an article about it here. The end result is that this phenomenon may change our weather pattern and set us up for a cold end of February and early March. As with all weather predictions there's no certainty in the outcome. Certainly anything needing some warmth like tomato seeds will be remaining sealed in their packets for a few weeks yet.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Better Safe Than Sorry

The forecast for the last few days was for Wednesday morning to be the coldest of the year with temperatures down to -4.0°C or 24.8°F.
 Temperature & Rainfall Records 05-07 February 2018
As it happens it didn't turn out to be so cold but with the temperature falling to -2.1°C (28.2°F) it becomes the coldest day of the year. The coldest day of this year's winter is still -3.2°C (26.2°F) on 11 December 2017.

However, with such a low temperature predicted I thought it wise to move our seed potatoes, which have been set to chit in the greenhouse and summerhouse, into the garage where I think they are a bit more protected from the cold.
The seed trays were placed into some old supermarket boxes and moved to the garage where they were stacked one on top of another and then finally covered over with some old curtain lining for good measure.
My greenhouse thermometer stopped working last autumn and I haven't sorted out a replacement yet so I'm not sure of how low the temperature fell in there but I know that the temperature fell to -1.8°C in the summerhouse.
The temperature over the next few nights isn't forecast to be as cold so I'm intending to move the seed potatoes back into the summerhouse and greenhouse straight away.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Frozen Seed Potatoes Maybe?

We had planned a trip to the allotment on Saturday afternoon but the weather was cold, miserable and damp so we decided not to bother. We really could do to harvest a few fresh vegetables though so we might have to wrap up warm and venture down to the plot even if the weather remains cold.

Our trial seed potatoes have been set out in the summerhouse to chit and our main varieties placed in our home greenhouse. Now I'm sure that they will be okay where they are provided we don't get any severe frosts.
I'm keeping a check on the weather forecasts to see if any lowish temperatures are forecast so I can either give them some extra protection where they are or perhaps even move them to a temporary location where I'm sure that they won't get frosted.
7 Day Forecast for Ossett from
The forecast looks particularly cold for next Tuesday night into Wednesday morning with the temperature forecast to fall as low as -4.0°C (24.8°F) so I might have to consider extra fleece or a move out of the greenhouse to somewhere a bit warmer. If the forecast turns out to be accurate it will be our coldest spell this winter.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

A Mild January?

After all the predicted snow, which never arrived for us, we finished up with a mild but wet January.
January 2010 - 2018 Average Temperature & Rainfall
The weather forecasting models have predicted that we'd get some snow several times through January but other than one very light covering which fell one evening and had disappeared the following morning we've escaped any serious snowfall.

Over the next week or so they are suggesting the possibility of some cold weather and more snow. Wouldn't you know it, as soon as our potatoes are placed in the greenhouse to chit, cold weather and snow is forecast.
UK Precipitation Type for Tuesday 06 February at 12:00 from
There's plenty of time for the weather models to change their minds. Just to make matters worse there's talk of the coldest spell of winter approaching. Better make an effort and get some fresh vegetables from the allotment before we get snowed in.