Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Winter 2016-17 Wetness In The High Knob Massif


January 3, 2017
Powell River Basin of High Knob Massif
Wild Whitewater In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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January 3, 2017
Boulder Garden In High Knob Massif
Wild Whitewater In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

On this day the level was down, relative to recent weeks, and rocks  
along the water were covered by a slick-as-ice fungal & moss-like film.

Following up to 12.00"+ of total precipitation during December 2016 across the head of Big Cherry Lake Basin, the South Fork of Powell has been roaring 
out of the high country.

January 3, 2017
Bottom About To Drop Out
Wild Whitewater In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Dropping 1433 vertical feet in 4 miles, downstream of Big Cherry Lake Dam, the bottom frequently drops out of this whitewater gem.

January 3, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Majestic Whitewater In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 3, 2017
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Boulder Garden Near Big Stone Gap WP
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 3, 2017
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Big Boulder Garden In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 3, 2017
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Majestic Whitewater In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 11, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Life From The Tree Tops - Blown Out By Wind
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Strong winds have blown out numerous tree limbs in recent days, with many containing an array of life forms from up in the tree tops!  An excellent chance to show that trees support an untold number of organisms from bottom to top, in all different forms.  Amazing! 

January 11, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Life From The Tree Tops - Blown Out By Wind
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 14, 2017
High Knob Massif of Cumberland Mountains
Wetland Valleys Within Big Cherry Lake Basin
Hemlock Varnish Polypore ( Ganoderma tsugae )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 14, 2017
Wetland Valleys of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Haircap Moss ( Polytrichum commune ) And Others
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 14, 2017
South Fork of Powell River Basin
A Cup Fungus In Big Cherry Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 14, 2017
Wetland Valleys of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Remains Of Regurgitated Raptor Pellet
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 14, 2017
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Polypores On Log In Big Cherry Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 16, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Mosses On An Old Tree Stump
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 16, 2017
Cold Air Drainage of Cumberland Mountains
Majestic Polypores On A Decayed Cherry Birch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

January 16, 2017
Cold Air Drainage of Cumberland Mountains
More Colors On A Cherry Birch Polypore
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This section is under construction.  Please check back.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Early Winter 2016 In The High Knob Massif


Rime Covered Crest Zone of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Since only dreams of a White Christmas will have to do this year, I have included a PDF history of the past 53 years.

History Of Christmases Past ( 1963-2015 )

A total of 18 out of the past 28 Christmases have been white 
in upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, especially on northern slopes in High Knob Lake Basin which I have used to document the Christmas season amid the high country.

Following this year it will be 18 out of 29 for an average of 62% ( or around 6 out of 10 years have snow cover on Christmas ).

December 3, 2016
Looking Southeast Across Sprawling Crest
Majestic Rime & Clouds Cap High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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The Appalachian Climate Center

December 3, 2016
High Knob Massif
Extraction of Water From Clouds
Major Secondary Moisture Source
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although snowfall is lagging far behind for the season, rime has coated highest elevations in the massif on five days since the beginning of November 2016 ( * ).

*As of December 3, with numerous more
rime days to follow during the month.

December 3, 2016
Extraction of Water From Clouds
Looking Toward Northwestern Flank
Majestic Rime Caps The High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Frozen Clouds of Water Captured
Looking Southwest Along High Country
Majestic Rime Caps The High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Low clouds gave way to a high altitude overcast, with few breaks in between, to keep the day cold and temperatures struggling to break freezing into the afternoon.

December 3, 2016
Small Patch Of Partial Clearing
Looking West Across Grindstone Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

It was not a good day to photograph rime ( dark ), but I wanted to capture it anyway and discuss its importance with my UVA-Wise class.

December 3, 2016
Looking Northeast To Eagle Knob
Majestic Rime Caps The High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Eagle Knob Communications Complex
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Majestic Rime Caps The High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Vegetation Coated In Rime
Frozen Clouds of Water Captured
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Majestic Rime Caps The High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
High Knob Massif
Deposition Of Water Captured From Clouds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Beautiful Rime Coated Plants
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Growth Into Air Flow ( Wind )
Signature Characteristic Of Rime
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Wind Chills In The Teens
The Beauty Of Rime Coated Plants
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
The Beauty Of Rime Coated Plants
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Not enough sub-freezing hours had occurred since 5.00" of rain fell to refreeze the high country lakes, which became partially frozen in late November.

December 3, 2016
Majestic Rime & Clouds Cap High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Wetland Area Above High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Wetland Above High Knob Lake
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
High Knob Lake Basin
Yellow Birch Adjacent To Boggy Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Reflections Of Trees & Sky At Lake Trail Bridge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Late Autumn 2016 In The High Knob Massif

I shot a similar photograph with ice 
on the water during November 22.

December 3, 2016
Beauty At High Knob Lake
Head of Mountain Fork of Big Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Elevation 3500 feet
Beauty At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 3, 2016
Beauty At High Knob Lake 
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Light was fleeting on this day with an early afternoon air temperature of 30 degrees 
at High Knob Lake.

December 3, 2016
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Beautiful Canadian Hemlock Cove
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Diversity In Wetland Valleys
Big Cherry Lake Basin

December 7, 2016
Diversity Of Life In Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valleys
Beautiful Scene In Swampy Wetland
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Mound Of Sphagnum Moss On Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Diversity Of Life In Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
An Ecosystem On A Single Small Tree
Yellow Birch Snag With Many Life Forms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
More Sphagnum On Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
An Ecosystem Of Many Life Forms
Diversity Of Life Exemplified Amid Wetness
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Wetland Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
A Hairy Fungus Grows On Decaying Log
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Moss Engulfed Tree On Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Hornworts & Mosses On Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Yellow Birches ( Betula alleghaniensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Beautiful Moss On Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Diversity In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Water Flowing Through Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Wetland Valleys of Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Low Gradient of Wetland Valley Floors
Abundant Water Flows Toward Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Headwaters Feeding Big Cherry Lake
Beauty In Big Cherry Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


High Knob Lake Basin

December 7, 2016
Majestic Cove At High Knob Lake In Sunshine
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Tributary Along The High Knob Lake Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Along The High Knob Lake Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Tributary Along The High Knob Lake Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
On The High Knob Lake Trail
Colorful Galax ( Galax urceolata )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Beautiful Late PM Light Along Lake Trail
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Water Overflowing High Knob Lake Dam
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Mountain Fork of Big Stony Creek
Water Overflowing High Knob Lake Dam
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Mother Nature's Painting ( Art Work )
Majestic Reflection On High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Majestic Reflections On High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 7, 2016
Beauty At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Majestic Rime & Sunset Views

December 14, 2016
High Knob Massif
Majestic Rime On High Knob
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 14, 2016
High Knob Massif
Majestic Rime & Sugar Maples on High Knob 
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 14, 2016
Majestic Rime & Clouds on High Knob
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Stepping out of the Science Building at UVA-Wise 
I found this awesome sunset developing.  By time I set up my camera the early portion had passed. 

December 14, 2016
Gorgeous Sunset Above UVA-Wise
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Plenty was left to come, as it continued for more than 30 minutes.  Changing colors were not the main attraction for me; although, they were awesome.

December 14, 2016
Changing Colors of Gorgeous Sunset
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The main attraction was this mass of waves, with mini-lenticular clouds stacked along edges of a simply incredible conglomeration of wave-form clouds.  It developed as air flow in advance of an approaching arctic cold front interacted with the mountain terrain.

December 14, 2016
A Complex Of Wave Clouds
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 15, 2016
Response To Cold = A Natural Thermometer
Great Rhododendron ( Rhododendron maxium )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


More Rime Deposition

December 19, 2016
Above City of Norton
Brightness Illuminates Lost Creek
Majestic Pickem Mountain of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
High Knob Massif
On The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine
Rime Coated High Country Above Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Rime Coated High Country Above Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Rime Coated High Country Above Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Whitewater Rolls
Little Stony Creek Gorge

December 19, 2016
Little Stony Creek Gorge
Canadian Hemlocks ( Tsuga canadensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Whitewater Gushes In High Knob Massif
Upper Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Ice "Flowers" Along Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Eastern End of High Knob Massif
Icy Coldness Along Little Stony Creek
Majestic Whitewater In Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Whitewater Gushes In High Knob Massif
Majestic Flow Lines On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Middle Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Whitewater Rapids On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Whitewater Rapids On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Little Stony Creek of Clinch River
Whitewater Gushes In High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Big Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Whitewater On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Icy Cold Whitewater On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 19, 2016
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Icy Cold Whitewater On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


High Knob Lake Basin
Lingering Snow In High Country

December 23, 2016
Northern Slopes of High Knob Lake Basin
Patches Of Snow Linger In High Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Snow has been a rare commodity in the southern Appalachians so far during the winter season of 2016-17, with this 1" to 2" that accumulated within upper elevations of the great High Knob Massif dwindling down to patches on December 23.

December 23, 2016
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Snow & Icicles Along State Route 619
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 23, 2016
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Snow & Beautiful Icicles On Rock Outcrop
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Even this snow would disappear by Christmas morning as dense fog and another wind driven 
rain fell across the high country.

December 23, 2016
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Snow & Beautiful Icicles On Rock Outcrop
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 23, 2016
Strong & Gusty SE-S Winds
Power Line Opening To High Knob Lake RA
Looking Toward The Great Valley & Western NC
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 23, 2016
Foreshadowing The Next Rain Storm
Dark Reflections On High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 23, 2016
Backwaters In Wetland Area
Reflections Above High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 23, 2016
Dark Ahead Of Next Rain Storm
Reflections Galore On Backwaters Of Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 23, 2016
Beautiful Clear Water
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Icy Ground & Reflections At Lake Trail Bridge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Big Cherry Lake Basin
Pristine Water On South Fork

December 23, 2016
Pristine Water In Big Cherry Wetland Valleys
Ripple Marks On Bottom Of South Fork Powell
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Water draining into Big Cherry Lake is as clear as I have ever seen on a creek, comparable to streams 
I saw while visiting the Rockies in Montana.

This is a precious resource and will only stay this way if these wetland valleys, and their surrounding watershed, are protected from logging, road building and other man-made disturbances.

December 23, 2016
Pristine Water In Big Cherry Lake Basin
Log On Bottom Of South Fork Powell
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The coldest temperatures, on average, reported in Virginia during December 2016 have been recorded in the high valleys of Big Cherry Lake.  A mean MIN of 16.0 degrees was observed during the period from December 9-23, with numerous nights at and below 10 degrees.  The ground was frozen solid on this day in December ( with a few traces of snow ).

December 23, 2016
Above Wetland Valleys of Big Cherry
A Little Polypore Home In The Woods 
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A mammal of some sort, perhaps a squirrel or little chipmunk, has made this interesting tree cavity their home.  The opening is surrounded by a nice, layered Polypore and like most everything in this wet area has numerous other 
life forms using different niches.


Whitewater ROARS
South Fork Gorge

December 28, 2016
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Whitewater Draining Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Around a FOOT of total precipitation in December, and upwards of 16.00" during the past month, has steep creeks draining the High Knob Massif gushing with water ( ROARING ).


Whitewater gushes when levels reach around the Yellow Alert Stage while it ROARS and POUNDS the ground when climbing up toward and above the Red Alert Stage.

Stream levels on Big Stony Creek, adjoining the South Fork Basin to the east, tell the story of how wet this pattern has become during December.  


While autumn is typically the driest time of year, Autumn 2016 simply flat-lined with respect to low stream levels and little rises observed during the season ( until late November ).


Dryness in the High Knob Massif was only short-term, since Summer 2016 was wet with 19.00" to 20.00"+ of rainfall and frequent water rises.

December 28, 2016
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Whitewater Draining Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 28, 2016
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Whitewater Draining Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 28, 2016
Water Elevation 3120+ Feet ( Overflow )
Late Afternoon Light On Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Lake is overflowing its spillway, after 12.5 vertical feet of water rise during the past month ( November 27 to December 28 period ).


Water releases from the lake throughout Summer 2016 to augment flow on the Powell River, downstream toward the Tennessee border, was a major reason for Big Cherry Lake levels dropping so much once autumn dryness arrived ( i.e., the lake was already down versus what it would have been without the extra water releases throughout summer ).

December 28, 2016
In Wake Of A Cold Night In The High Country
Lingering Frost At 4:47 PM At Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Lake possesses a rapid recharge 
not only due to its orographically enhanced precipitation, but also because its basin sits amid the RIME and FOG DRIP zone where significant amounts of these secondary moisture sources 
( captured by TREES ) add to its already 
significant precipitation budget.

December 28, 2016
Approaching Sunset At Big Cherry Lake
Frost Covered Leaves Following Cold Night
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 28, 2016
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Whitewater Draining Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 28, 2016
Water Level Over Top Of Old Dam
Late Afternoon Reflections On Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Only the top railing of the previous Dam can now be seen since the lake level has come up so much during the past month.

December 28, 2016
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Whitewater Draining Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 28, 2016
Water Elevation 3120+ Feet ( Overflow )
Approaching Sunset At Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

It appears that the head of Big Cherry Lake basin, miles upstream from this view, will end 2016 with more than 70.00" of total precipitation.

This not including, of course, the significant amounts of secondary moisture added to the watershed from rime deposition and drop from trees and fog drip from trees 
( which has likely added 12.00" or more during 2016 ).

This page is under construction.  Please check back.