The average temperatures in late November were consistently cold and below zero. However, an unseasonable record snow event occurred November 23rd bringing 24 inches of snow in a 14 hour period. This snow fell on unfrozen ground and remained until a 3 day warming event occurred in early December.
Fortunately, this early snow accumulation melted both off the greens surfaces and through the unfrozen soil profile. No standing water was left on the greens.
Precipitation in the form of freezing rain and rain fell between December 20th and December 22nd.
What does all this mean….?
The 43 mm of rain and freezing rain over this 3 day stretch fell on an existing snow pack and penetrated to the frozen ground below. Ice cover, desiccation and crown hydration can produce catastrophic losses to turfgrass. The following link from Michigan State describes various factors influencing “Winter Injury”.
Ice and slush looks scary but at present it is acting like a protective layer of insulation over the turf. At this time there is nothing that can be done as removing the existing slush and ice will remove the insulation and only further expose the remaining turf to a drop in temperature. Research shows the critical duration of permanent ice cover varies between 30 and 120 days with 60 days generally thought to be the target duration where anoxic (lack of oxygen) conditions could begin to cause significant turf injury.
Last winter, a series of fluctuating temperature and weather patterns prevailed making it difficult to maintain a continuously sealed surface for an extended period of time. We will be monitoring the health of the greens and the weather patterns over the coming weeks and ask for Mother Nature to do her part in delivering a regular January/February thaw.
All cultural practices will be carried out in such a way as to minimize the impact to Membership with the ultimate goal of providing superior, healthier putting surfaces.