Monday, February 23, 2015

The Harsh Winter Month Of February 2015


( 8" More Fell After This Photograph )
Snow Depth At 1:35 PM on February 21, 2015
Mean Depth In High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

The mean snow depth reached 36" in High Chaparral during evening hours of February 21, with up to 40"+ on northern slopes in the main crest zone of the High Knob Massif.

The High Knob Landform

The High Knob Landform WebCite Permalink

The Appalachian Climate Center

Following a snowy opening to Winter 2014-15, during the month of November, a snow drought developed across the southern Appalachians with much below average snowfall observed during the typically snowy months of December & January.

First Significant Winter Storm of 2014-15 Season

That all began to change during February.

February 16, 2015 At 5:06 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

February 17, 2015 At 6:06 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

February 18, 2015
Deep Roof-top Snow Depths
Snow Accumulation In The Lower Elevations
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved.

A total of 19.3" of snowfall was officially measured in Clintwood during the February 12-19 period, with mean snow depths of 12" to 14" being common amid the lower elevations by February 16-19.

A series of snow systems during February 12-19 resulted in the first major storm that dropped deep snow upon the entire area along and northwest of the Clinch River in southwestern Virginia, with widespread 10-18" snow depths by February 17.

February 18, 2015 at 2:56 PM
High Knob Massif At 3300 feet Elevation
Snow Depth In High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

A general 24-30" of total snow fell upon upper elevations of the High Knob Massif during the February 12-19 period, with general 1-2 feet snow depths by February 18 above 3000 feet ( least on southern slopes and most on northern slopes ).

February 18, 2015
Snow Burst Along Alternate 58
Bad Travel Conditions Between Norton & Coeburn
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

A deep snowpack and fresh mass of arctic air set the stage for the coldest still air temperatures since February 1996, with the bottom literally dropping out of the thermometer into morning hours of February 20 amid mountain valleys.

A Few MINS On February 20

-23 degrees in Clintwood
( Official NWS Temperature )

-22 degrees in Clinch River Valley
( Mark & Ana Hess Farm )

-21 degrees in City of Norton
( AWS Weatherbug Station )

-20 degrees in Tazewell
( AWS Weatherbug Station )

-19 degrees in Birchleaf
( AWS Weatherbug Station )

*Local minimums amid lofty 2400 to 3500 foot high valleys in the
High Knob Massif likely reached -25 to -30 degrees below zero,
or even colder, with 1-2 feet of surrounding snowpack.


High Impact Winter Storm of February 21
SW Upslope Driven Storm Event
Excessive Snowfall In High Knob Landform

Although there was some S-SSE flow in lowest levels, ROARING SSW-SW winds dominated from around 900 MB upward to drive this event and generate upslope cooling as air was orographically forced to rise from the Tennessee Valley upward through the High Knob Landform into the great, sprawling High Knob Massif and Tennessee Valley Divide ( which includes the Black mountains ).

February 21, 2015 At 7:00 AM
European 16 KM Model 850 MB Wind Field

February 21, 2015 At 7:00 PM
European 16 KM Model 850 MB Wind Field

While I have documented SW Upslope Flow snow events many times in past decades, my analog storm for this event occurred on November 27, 1977 when an early season blast of arctic air was flooded by Gulf of Mexico moisture on strong SW flow in a manner analogous to this event.  Snow depths reached 18" in Big Stone Gap and 11" in Wise during 1977.

21" of Mean Snow Depth
7" of New Snow ( 15" To Come )
February 21, 2015 At 8:54 AM
Heavy Snow In High Chaparral
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Roaring SW winds of 30 to 50+ mph created blizzard conditions in the High Knob Massif 
where this storm became a beast.

A general 1 to 2 feet of snow was already on the ground before February 21, with deepest snow across northern slopes in the upper elevations.  High Chaparral has a southern exposure.

Mean Snow Depth Change
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Elevation 3300 feet

14" at 7:00 PM 
( February 20 )

21" at 8:54 AM
( February 21 )

31" at 4:00 PM
( February 21 )

36" at 10:30 PM
( February 21 )

Mean snow depths topped 40" on northern slopes in the upper elevations of the massif, with simply huge drifts in places.

The snow depth change was documented on Eagle Knob 
by Cody Blankenbecler, with much snow being blown horizontally across the summit prior to this event 
during the February 12-19 period.

Elevation 4196 feet
February 21, 2015 At 1:23 AM
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
Image by Cody Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

Elevation 4196 feet
February 21, 2015 At 3:01 AM
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
Image by Cody Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

Elevation 4196 feet
February 21, 2015 At 11:10 AM
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
Image by Cody Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

Elevation 4196 feet
February 21, 2015 At 9:05 PM
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
Image by Cody Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

*Snow depth in the above view is around waist deep.

Total snow depth was ( as it typically is ) much deeper on northern slopes in adjacent basins holding High Knob Lake, Big Cherry Lake, and the Norton Reservoirs where not only is more deposited but less snow tends to melt-sublimate due to less insolation ( i.e., shady & colder with less sunlight ).

Cal Adams reported waist deep snow at his home just across the Scott County, Va., line adjacent to Big Cherry Lake. Cal was stranded, deep in the high-country, like he had been many times in the 12-years since moving to Little Mountain.

While having plenty of food, Cal was running short on milk & bread.  He said it would be nice to have some "sweet milk and a loaf of bread" air dropped in, or flown by military drone if anyone had the means to do the job!

What he really needed, however, was a Dozer to push through HUGE drifts that blocked Route 238.

*The Scott County Police Department called to check on him, which was very nice, but he asked that folks "please don't forget about me."

Updated: Cal was rescued by two Virginia Department of Forestry Dozers which worked to open State Route 619 and Route 237.  Cal said, "I want to thank them for saving my life," as he was running out of his medications.  He truly was thankful to the VA Department of Forestry!

*Following 6" of new snow into the morning of February 26 Cal said, "I've got 4 FEET of snow on my porch."

Many private and secondary roads have remained bad to impassible since the February 21 storm, with Joe & Darlene Fields being unable to get out of Lark Road due to 3 feet & more of snow depth.

February 24, 2015 At 12:19 PM
Mountains of Snow Piled High In High Chaparral
Not Boston But High Chaparral of High Knob
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Huge piles of snow have High Chaparral looking like Boston, and little wonder after nearly 5 feet of snow has fallen just during the month of February 
( around 6 feet at the summit level as of Feb 26 ).

It has become the snowiest February on record in upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, where more than 70" 
have fallen around the summit level during the month.

February 21, 2015 At 1:35 PM
Before 8" Of Additional Snow Depth
View Of 28" From The Doorway
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Cold air that followed the big snow froze it into a SOLID Block hard enough for many to walk on top of, which helped in getting from A to B but made it even harder if you needed to move it out OF the way.  Yes, it is true, rock bars and chisels have been used to help move this snow! 

February 24, 2015
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Mounds Of Snow Frozen Solid Like A Block
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

While it might look like Joe is just out in his yard measuring a little snow, he is actually doing that while standing on top of more than 2 feet of snow!

February 24, 2015
Joe Fields Measures New Snow
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Standing On Top Of More Than 2 Feet
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

This section is under construction.  Please check back.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Spectacular Sunset As Winds Begin To ROAR


January 8, 2015 at 5:39 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department




Wave clouds along the High Knob Massif became illuminated by sunlight to generate an absolutely spectacular sunset setting ( especially for those lucky enough to view it live ) on January 8.

For those who missed this amazing spectacle, I have extracted live frames from the High Knob Massif Webcam for your viewing.  Enjoy!


High Knob Massif Webcam

All High Knob Massif Webcam images are original frames 
of live conditions.  None have been altered in any way.

   Click consecutively on frames for motion in picture viewer
    ( Use Keyboard Arrows For Faster Time Lapse Motion )

This begins during late afternoon so you
 can see how this amazing sunset came to be.

January 8, 2015 at 3:59 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Mountain waves were already forming along the massif as strong SW winds aloft were increasing and mixing downward over time to ROAR!

*These mountain waves later contributed to 40-50+ mile per hour 
wind gusts in the area during the evening-overnight hours.  Peak
gusts topped 60 mph on the High Knob Massif & Black Mountain,
with 61 mph recorded at the Black Mountain Mesonet station.

January 8, 2015 at 4:00 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 4:01 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 4:04 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 4:05 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 4:06 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 4:10 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 4:19 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Jumping forward one hour in time, more colorful light begins to show subtly at first, then suddenly bursts forth to illuminate the waves.

*As noted by earlier frames above, these waves were present all afternoon but became highlighted in extraordinary detail as rays of the setting sun worked its magic to bring forth contrasts and colors!

January 8, 2015 at 5:19 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:20 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:23 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:25 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:30 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:32 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:33 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:33 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:34 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:34 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:35 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:35 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:36 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:36 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:37 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:37 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:38 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:38 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:39 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:39 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:40 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:40 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:41 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:41 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:42 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:42 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:43 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:43 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:44 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:44 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:45 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:46 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:46 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:47 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:47 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:48 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:49 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:49 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:50 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:51 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:51 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 8, 2015 at 5:52 PM
 Looking Toward High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy Of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

An awesome time to be alive!