Monday, 19 March 2018

The Beast is Relenting

Monday has dawned much brighter and whilst the temperature couldn't be described as mild it much better than the last few days. In the sunshine the snow is melting quickly.
Although it looks lovely and bright outside it's still feels bitterly cold as I found out when I ventured outside to fill up the bird feeders and thaw out the bird bath. The temperatures might have lifted but the strong breeze is still from the east.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records for Monday, 19 March 2018
The wind chill factor was making it feel a couple of degrees colder than the actual temperature. Below is a chart for the last month showing the wind direction. For much of the last month this has been from the east which has brought us "The Beast from the East Parts 1 & 2".
Wind Direction Records 18 February -19 March 2018
Over the last month, as you can see, we've only had a few days, around the second week in March, when the wind hasn't been out of the east.

Hopefully we've seen the last of any very cold weather and we can look forward to some frost free weather. Our main seed sowing season normally begins in April so an improvement by then would be much appreciated.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Winter's Icy Grip Continues!

Well, winter just refuses to go away. Almost lunchtime on Sunday and the temperature is still below freezing with a bitingly cold easterly wind blowing.

Gardening continues to be on hold.
Looking forward to spring!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

I Should Have Moved Our Potatoes

The drawback of having a weather station is I know the current outdoor temperature and it's -2.5°C or 27.5°F. I'm beginning to think I should have moved our seed potatoes out of the greenhouse.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records for 17 March 2018
As darkness falls we've had our worst snow showers of the day.

Whilst it's good to be able to take photographs at 18:15 in the evening now our daylight is lengthening I would prefer it if it wasn't to take snowy scenes.

Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Snow Showers

Friday was what we've come to expect, dull, cool with some morning rain. Saturday morning has started off as forecast with snow showers and feeling bitterly cold outside in the strong easterly breeze.
Temperature, Wind Chill & Rainfall Records 15-17 March 2018
It's cold enough at 09:45 for the snow showers not to be showing up on the rainfall totals until it warms up a little bit and the snow in the rain gauge melts.
Hopefully, the snow will melt away quickly. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

It Keeps On Raining

The cold wet weather continued throughout Thursday. Although the rainfall total itself wasn't anything spectacular, 5.2mm (0.2in), it fell on well saturated ground. It's not as though it rains and then brightens up for a bit but rather the rain stops and it remains so dull and dreary its difficult to know if it's still raining or not. Our monthly total is up to 65.4mm (2.57in) already the second highest March total I've recorded and we're only halfway through the month.
Temperature & Rainfall Records for 01-16 March 2018
Friday has started dull and wet and the forecast is for the temperature to fall further as the day goes on with any more rain on Saturday and Sunday falling as snow. Maximum temperatures over the weekend are predicted to be around freezing point with night time temperatures predicted to give some severe frost. Should I move my seed potatoes out of the greenhouse to somewhere frost free again?
As far as allotmenting goes we are still in winter mode. We head to the allotment to harvest the last of our overwintering vegetables and can do little else as the ground is waterlogged.

The only comparable March over the last few years has been March 2013 when a cold spell at the end of the month resulted in an average temperature of 2.5°C or 36.5°F. Currently, our average temperature this March stands at 3.9°C (39.0°F) but with some colder days forecast. However, rainfall in March 2013 was only slightly above average whereas this March has seen much higher rainfall.

Any outdoor gardening looks like it will remain on hold for some time.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Seed Sowing - Madness?

After all the rain on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were dry with a few sunny periods. There's some warmth in the sunshine now we're in the middle of March and during the day the greenhouse warms up nicely in any sunny periods. It was enough to tempt me into sowing a few seeds. Our leeks, which take a considerable time to germinate and grow on, certainly needed sowing. I decided to sow a few lettuce seeds too as there's plenty of seeds in a packet so I didn't see there was much to loose. My plan for them, should they germinate, is that they'll grow on in the greenhouse and coldframe before being transplanted into our raised bed at home for an early crop.
Lettuce seeds "All Year Round" & "Tom Thumb"
However, I couldn't help but think that I wouldn’t have considered sowing seeds in January or February but temperature wise January's average temperature was 5.3°C (41.5°F), February's 3.2°C (37.8°F) whilst March stands at 3.7°C (38.7°F) with a forecasted cold spell of near freezing temperatures by day, let along by night, to come over the weekend. There's more snow showers in the forecast too. At least in the greenhouse the seeds will be a bit warmer by day even if the temperature does fall below freezing through the night. They will also be protected from the rain, speaking of which, it's raining here again on Thursday morning.
I think I'm going to have to give some thought to alternative planting strategies at the allotment. It's not going to be possible to dig over any beds until we have a decent spell of dry weather and I don't think our onions and shallots can wait that long. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Some Decent Weather Urgently Required!

There's not a lot to say about Monday. It rained all day starting in the early hours of the morning continuing through until almost midnight.
In total it amounted to 19.0mm (0.75in) and it fell onto already saturated ground. It will take a good few days of good drying weather before it's fit to do any work on the allotment.
Monday finished up as our second wettest March day since 2010 with 04 March 2016 holding the record with a whopping 27.6mm or 1.09in. The monthly total is already 58.0mm (2.28in) which only leaves March 2016 with a higher March monthly rainfall of 79.0mm or 3.11in.

My table of top twenty wettest days since 2010 looks like this.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Wettest Day So Far

We've had plenty of rain so far in March, enough to put most allotment jobs on hold. Monday has already become the wettest day not only of March but the year so far. The rain gauge has just ticked over to 12.4mm (0.5in) at 10:30 and if the forecast turns out to be correct we've got more wet weather to come today.
We had a trip into the North Yorkshire Moors National Park yesterday (Sunday) to see Tornado. This wasn't one of the weather variety but a steam locomotive named Tornado.
60163 Tornado at Goathland Station
There was still some snow about on the highest points of the moors, especially near Levisham Station, but it was now coated black and not looking its best.
We really should be getting on with some jobs at the allotment but it's far too wet at the moment to even consider digging over any ground let alone planting any crops. If I can this week I'd like to sow some leeks, in modules in the greenhouse, just to feel a little bit of progress is being made.

I've noticed that the computer weather models are suggesting some colder weather following on from next weekend. I'm not sure at the moment that it won't be any worse than overnight frosts and fairly cold by day but there's always a chance that we could get a return of some snow as well. With a week to go there's plenty of opportunity for the weather models to come up with something very different. I'm hoping they will as I'm fed up with cold, snowy and wet weather and would very much appreciate it if spring would hurry up and arrive.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Plenty of Wet Weather

Thursday morning's snow didn't take long to thaw and by Thursday afternoon most of it has disappeared. However, the downside was that the rapid thaw left the ground very wet and soggy.
To compound the issue we've had more rain since then. February has started off as one of the wettest ones I've recorded at this stage of the month. In the last nine years only 2016 recorded more rainfall.
  Temperature & Rainfall Details 04-10 March 2018
Friday turned out to be a much better day. Morning sunshine meant it was pleasant in the greenhouse which had quickly warmed up after an overnight frost. It tempted me into sowing some broad beans. The first seeds to be sown this year.
Broad beans are fairly tough but I'll leave them in the greenhouse to germinate. In the greenhouse I expect germination will take a couple of weeks. They could be sown outside directly into the ground at the allotment but even if that were my preferred option,  due to the recent rain, and snow the soil on the plot is unworkable at the moment.
Preparation of Early Brassica Bed
The good weather tempted us down the allotment on Friday afternoon. The ground was very wet, certainly too wet to dig over, but I managed to prepare a bed ready for our early brassicas which are coming as plug plants from DT Brown. The bed had some compost spread over it and as brassicas prefer to be planted in firm ground I thought the bed didn't need to be dug over. Some fish blood and bone fertiliser and some garden lime were incorporated before the weed control fabric was moved from last year's brassica bed to this one.

Next on the list is to get a bed ready for planting our onion sets but with heavy overnight rain Friday night into Saturday morning, it's going to have to wait until the ground dries out a bit. I've learnt the hard way that attempting to dig our clayey soil when it's too wet can create almost unworkable soil. It's far more productive to delay digging and sowing until the ground dries out a bit. 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

More Snow - Spring Didn't Last Long

The early hours of Thursday morning brought some more snow. Judging from the depth of snow on the bird bath it's probably the best part of 2in or about 50mm.
Thursday, 08 March 2018
It's that wet sort of snow we get, not like that very dry powdery sort we got with the "beast from the east". With virtually no breeze to speak of it's left the trees looking very Christmasy with snow piled up on the branches.
Having said that I'm hoping it all disappears very quickly. We'd planned on a bit of gardening today but it looks as though that might now be on hold until tomorrow. The temperature is a little bit above freezing and the sun is beginning to break through the clouds so fingers crossed it will thaw quickly.
I have a suspicion that it's going to be a rather delayed start to the allotmenting year.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Overnight Spring Arrives

Overnight the snow disappeared and after a bit of a misty start to Tuesday the sun came out, the temperature returned to normal for early March and it felt like spring had arrived.
I even moved the seed potatoes back into the greenhouse to continue chitting.
A final note on the cold weather of the last week or so. I noticed this tweet from Paul Hudson yesterday.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Balmy Weather - In More ways Than One!

Sunday morning has started off almost balmy with the temperature hovering around 1.0°C or 34.0°F. It's rather unusual for our temperature to manage to reach such dizzy heights so far this month. In the table below, of last week's temperatures, I've highlighted the 0°C or 32°F level to show how many days were below freezing point.
Temperature Records for 26 February - 04 March 2018
To put some sort of perspective on how unusually cold a start we have had to March 2018 it's worth considering that in the previous eight Marches I've recorded a grand total of three days with average daily temperature below 0°C or 32°F. The first three days of March this year have all been below that level. The graph of our previous mildest and coldest March months is shown below again emphasising the unusually cold start to the month.
However, the good news is with the temperatures above freezing a thaw has set in even if it is a dull murky day with occasional bouts of sleety rain.
These early flowering daffodils are emerging from their blanket of snow. There's still a reasonable amount of snow to thaw and parts of the pond are still frozen over.
The weather forecast is for the milder weather to continue with temperatures gradually returning to more normal values through next week for early March.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Out of the Freezer and Into the Fridge

It goes without saying that Thursday was the coldest March day I've recorded since 2010. The lowest temperature was -5.4°C (22.3°F), the daytime high was -0.5°C (31.1°F) and the daily average -2.4°C or 27.7°F. It's our only "ice" March day when the temperature has remained below freezing all day.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records for 01 March 2018
I don't think our plants are enjoying the snow or the bitterly cold gale force winds.

I've now sorted out my February comparison tables.
Temperature & Rainfall Comparisons February 2010 - 2018
In summary a cold and dry February 2018. Hopefully March will be much better for getting on with some gardening jobs but it certainly hasn't got off to a very good start.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Good News - Meteorological Spring has Arrived!

February and winter 2017/18 went out on a bitterly cold day. I'm not in much doubt that it turned out to be our coldest February day since I started keeping records in 2010.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records for 28 February 2018
I thought the early morning temperature of -5.7°C (21.7°F) on Wednesday would be the lowest of the day but I was wrong as it fell to -5.8°C (21.6°F) early into the evening. Fortunately, it didn't fall any further remaining around that level well into the night. It didn't quite manage the lowest temperature I've recorded in February which is still -5.9°C (21.4°F) on 08 February 2012. However, with a daytime high temperature of -1.7°C (28.9°F) and daily average of -4.2°C (24.4°F) it absolutely obliterates my previous values for February of 1.2°C (34.2°F) and -2.0°C (28.4°F) respectively which both go back to 2012. Incidentally, the lowest average daily temperature I've recorded goes back to 20 December 2010 and -7.6°C or 18.3°F.

It's certainly been an unusually cold spell of weather and not only have we had bitterly cold temperatures but some snow as well. I'm aware other parts of the country have had much more snow than us but three days of snow showers have gradually built up a significant amount for us.
Judging by the amount that had fallen onto our outdoor coffee table we've had about 10cm, 100mm or 4in whichever are your preferred units.
I'd now like the snow to go so that some serious gardening tasks can be started. The forecast doesn't seem to hold out much hope of that happening until after the weekend.

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