Monday, December 4, 2017

Early Winter 2017_High Knob Massif Area


December 16, 2017
Winter Wonderland At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

History Of Christmases Past 
 A 54-Year History ( 1963-2016 )

*ArcGIS Statistical Probability Map For The United States

December 2, 2017
Water Elevation 3520 Feet
Reflections On High Knob Lake
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Meteorological winter opened seasonally mild with afternoon maximums reaching the 40s to mid 50s in the high country of the High Knob Massif.

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December 2, 2017
Big Stony Creek of Clinch River
High Knob Lake Special Biological Area
Mirror-like Reflections On High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This was the final field trip of Autumn 2017 for the Field Studies In Microclimatology research class at UVA-Wise.  Although no snow was to be found, 
many beautiful scenes were still observed. 

December 2, 2017
View Rotated by 180 degrees
Rotated View - Reflections On High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Maximum temperatures occurred during early afternoon, with local sunset having already occurred at High Knob Lake by 3:40 PM when this data was downloaded.

*Local sunset is defined as the time in which the sun drops beneath the mountain horizon, and during this low sun angle period of the year often occurs during early-mid afternoon in mountain valleys to significantly 
shorten the amount of insolational heating.


High Knob Lake
November 2017 Temperatures

Average Daily MAX: 48.3 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 32.0 degrees
MEAN: 40.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 62 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 20 degrees

December 2, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

There were 3 days during November with 1" or more 
of snow on the ground from Eagle Knob into the High Knob Lake Basin, with 7 days featuring rime formation.  Precipitation was well below average with just over 3.00" falling during the month.

Eagle Knob of High Knob
November 2017 Temperatures

Average Daily MAX: 46.2 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 34.5 degrees
MEAN: 40.4 degrees
Highest Temperature: 60 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 19 degrees

November 2017 was a relatively windy month in the Cumberland Mountains, with much vertical mixing that frequently disrupted nocturnal temperature drops in mountain valleys within upper elevations ( i.e., many nights featured periods with rapid falls-rises ).

December 2, 2017
South Fork of Powell River
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Valley 4
November 2017 Temperatures

Average Daily MAX: 51.6 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 28.8 degrees
MEAN: 40.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 67 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 16.8 degrees

November was the first month in 2017 with average nightly low temperatures that were at least 1.0 degree above Burkes Garden ( 27.5 degree average November MIN ) at Big Cherry Valley 4.

December 2, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 2, 2017
Pristine Water Quality
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

American Beaver activity has kicked into high gear during the past month, perhaps they can sense the major shift into winter upcoming for the mountain region.

*Sphagnum filled wetland valleys and a lack of logging are critical to maintaining this beautiful water that flows into Big Cherry Lake, the major water source for the mountain area.

December 2, 2017
Pristine Water Quality
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 2, 2017
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 2, 2017
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 2, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Large Beaver Dam - Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 2, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Large Beaver Dam - Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2017
Super Moon Above The Cumberland
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Wintry December Conditions

December 16, 2017
High Country of High Knob Massif
Snow Covered State Route 619 At Camp Rock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Numerous roads remained snow and ice covered in the high country of the High Knob Massif on December 16, despite loss of at least a couple inches or more of snow depth since the max was observed on December 13.

December 16, 2017
High Country of High Knob Massif
Snow Covered Roadway On Eagle Knob
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Eagle Knob of High Knob
December 1-16, 2017 Temperatures

Average Daily MAX: 35.9 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 22.9 degrees
MEAN: 29.4 degrees
Highest Temperature: 52 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 7 degrees

December 6-16 Period
Average MAX: 28.2 degrees
Average MIN: 16.6 degrees
MEAN: 22.4 degrees

A December snowfall total of 4" to 5" is running much below average, with this area missing the southern snow maker that blanketed a corridor from the Gulf Coast northeast into eastern Virginia.  Local snow coming mostly from brief Great Lake moisture transport on WNW-NW upslope flow ( limited advection acting to limit amounts at this latitude ).

December 16, 2017
High Country of High Knob Massif
Snow Covered Roadway On Eagle Knob
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Mammal and bird tracks were abundant in the snow.

December 16, 2017
Eagle Knob Junction With The Nettle Patch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

High Knob Lake was like a winter wonderland with both the wetland and lake frozen from sub-freezing temperatures which ruled the December 6-16 period.

December 16, 2017
Frozen High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

High Knob Lake
December 1-16, 2017 Temperatures

Average Daily MAX: 38.5 degrees
*Average Daily MIN: 23.2 degrees
MEAN: 30.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 53 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 11 degrees

*Average low temperatures have been colder 
within high valleys of Big Cherry Lake Basin.

December 16, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Beneath A Majestic Canadian Hemlock
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This was the designated Christmas Bird Count day
and I was privileged to accompany UVA-Wise History
Professor Donald Leech and his wife Michelle for
part of this trip in the high country.

Randy Stanley tallied 51 different bird species recorded by a dozen or so 
folks counting across Wise County into extreme northern Scott County.

December 16, 2017
Frozen Wetland At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A notable inversion and gusty winds across the top of the high country appeared to restrict much bird activity, in addition to making it difficult to hear them, with even raptors staying mainly inside protection of forest cover.

December 16, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Frozen Wetland At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 16, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Frozen Wetland At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 16, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Shallow Water In Frozen Wetland
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 16, 2017
Water Elevation 3520 feet
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Frozen Bank to Bank - Upper Portion of Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The Upper Norton Reservoir was ice free on December 16, with the main difference being that it had a relatively steady inflow of water into the lake versus the dammed inflow, by American Beavers, at High Knob Lake. 

Total precipitation from November 1-December 16 being 3.32" at the base of the massif in the City of Norton and around 4.50" on Eagle Knob at the summit level. 

December 16, 2017
Water Elevation 3318 feet
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


High Wind Event
( December 23, 2017 )

State Route 619 - High Knob Massif
Miles & Miles Of Debris Covered Roads
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A high wind event, featuring 50+ mph wind gusts, produced many miles of debris covered roads across the high country of the High Knob Massif on December 23.  The above photograph being a typical view.

Larger trees completely blocked numerous roads and had to be cut out.  Reference the Appalachian Climate Center for more details about this event, which was not officially forecast until after it was already underway despite models clearly predicting low-level jet formation along the western side of the Appalachians.


Upslope Fog & Freezing Fog

December 24, 2017 ( AM )
High Country of High Knob Massif
Rime Coated HawthornsCrataegus spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

In the above view Hawthorn ( Crataegus spp. ) trees, which here are Pleistocene relicts, are coated by an icy, glassy-type of rime which underwent deposition at temperatures in the 28-32 degree range.

A prolonged period of upslope fog turned to freezing fog at high elevations into Christmas Eve day.

Lonesome Pine Airport In Wise

Despite the Holiday, and impacts to the busy U.S. 23 corridor, this was also not outlooked by the National Weather Service.  Another neglected aspect of local climatology that I have shown is predictable up to a 
couple days, or more at times, in advance.

December 24, 2017
Whitewater Roars In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Beneath the cloud deck, amid depths of South Fork Gorge, whitewater was loud as it churned through this boulder filled gem in wake of significant 
pre-Christmas rainfall.


White Christmas 2017

December 25, 2017
University Of Virginia's College At Wise

Accumulating snow decorated the mountain landscape along and north of the High Knob Massif and Tennessee Valley Divide into Christmas morning.

Superintendent Andrew Greear, of the City of Norton Water Plant, reported 1.5" of snow at the northern base of the massif in Norton.  Rain initially fell in Norton prior to the change into snow, with all snow falling above 3000-3500 feet elevation.

This boosted 2017 precipitation to approximately 60.70" at Norton WP, sitting at 2342 feet above mean sea level ( 8" NWS rain gauge ).

Darlene & Joe Fields measured 2" of snow depth in the High Chaparral community of the massif on Christmas morning ( elevation 3300 feet ).  

Approximately 2-3" of wind blown snow fell across the main crest zone, with depth variations from near bare ground on exposed surfaces to 4-6"+ in drifted areas.  
Wind chills reached -10 to -20 degrees below zero at 
highest elevations ( AM MIN in single digits with PM 
MAX only reaching the lower 10s on Eagle Knob ).

December 25, 2017
Heavy-Wind Blown Snow In Wise
University Of Virginia's College At Wise


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