Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snowy December In High Knob Massif


A Snowy December Continues

Due to a computer problem the High Knob Landform website will not be displaying any photographs or graphics of these recent events at this time.

[ Please check back later for an array of wonderful images once this problem is fixed ].

A couple of major snow events have impacted the High Knob highcountry and its surrounding area so far during December 2010, with another one upcoming for the Christmas Holiday period of December 25-27.

Summary of Major Events
Local Storm Snowfall Totals

December 4-8
Clintwood 1 W: 9.6"
Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge: 13.0"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 17.3"
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 19.5"

December 11-15
Clintwood 1 W: 9.8"
Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge: 13.4"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 14.3"
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 18.5"

The December 4-8 episode is well documented below, in the next section, with more specific details and photographs of December 11-15 conditions upcoming later ( stay tuned ).

Meanwhile, pre-Christmas snowfall totals are off to a fast start this season as another big winter storm potential arises for the holiday period.  Significant snow accumulations of a foot or more will be likely across the already snow laden High Knob highcountry during the December 25-27 period.

December 2010 Snowfall Totals
( as of December 21 )

Clintwood 1 W: 23.7"
Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge: 30.8"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 35.9"
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 43.0"


Winter Season 2010-11 Snow Tallies
( as of December 21 )

Clintwood 1 W: 23.7"
Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge: 32.4"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 40.4"
*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 49.0"

*Approximate total ( local amounts may be greater ).

A general 40-50" of snowfall had occurred this season amid the High Knob highcountry, above 3000 feet, through morning hours of December 21.

A significant amount of this snow was still present in depth upon upper north slopes and crestlines of the massif, at highest elevations, with my friend Steve Blankenbecler of Virginia-Kentucky Communications reporting 14" of snow depth at a Eagle Knob snow marker on Monday amid numerous places with 24-30" of total depth ( following major settlement since Dec 14-15 ).

[ A surge of above freezing air and dense fog in low clouds worked to cause additional settlement and melting of the snowpack ( from Dec 20 measurements ) into daylight hours of December 22, with temps going below freezing again by early afternoon with sleet to snow ( melting most significant from roof-tops on Eagle Knob ) ].

Please check back later for photographs and more specific details.


Special Feature
History of Christmas Weather Conditions
for the 1979-2009 Period 
( 30-Years )

December 2009
Classic Christmas Scene - Wise, Virginia

1979...Snow, sleet, and freezing rain fell in mountain valleys during Christmas, with heavy snow across higher elevations.  A 3" snow depth was reported at the Wise 1 SE NWS Cooperative Station at its 5 PM observation time on Christmas day ( followed a 61 degree Christmas EVE day MAX in Wise ).

1980...A snowfall total of 1.1" at Clintwood 1 W, and 1.6" at Wise 1 SE, was observed during the Christmas Holiday ( December 25-26 ).
 
1981...Christmas morning found 1.0" of snowfall at Clintwood 1 W, with 1.3" reported at Wise 1 SE. 

1982...Warmest Christmas on record!
The maximum temperature reached 69 degrees in Wise to establish the highest Christmas temp ever observed since record keeping began in 1955.  This reading was taken at an elevation of 2560 feet, with lower elevations being warmer ( e.g., 75 degrees in Pennington Gap ) and higher elevations cooler. 

1983...Coldest Christmas on record!
The minimum temperature fell to -13 degrees below zero in Wise to establish the lowest temp ever observed since record keeping began in 1955.  Unofficial MINS as low as -25 degrees below zero were reported in the area. 

1984...A rainfall total of 0.70" was measured into Christmas morn in the City of Norton ( at Norton Water Plant ), with 0.49" in Clintwood.  Only a few flurries were observed.

1985...Heavy snow developed Christmas Eve with 3" to 4" on the ground Christmas day at Clintwood 1 W.  Falling temps produced a bitter 6 degree above zero reading by 8 PM.  Snow depths were deeper, temps and wind chills lower, across mid-upper elevations.

1986...A rainfall total of 1.42" was measured at Norton WP during the Christmas Holiday, with 1.18" in Clintwood ( mostly fell during December 24, with foggy conditions during Christmas day ).

1987...Wettest Christmas Holiday on record!
A total of 4.55" of rain fell at Norton WP during      the December 24-27 period, with locally greater amounts across the High Knob highcountry ( a rainfall total of 2.40" in Wise established the 24-hour record for Christmas ending at 5 PM on Christmas day ).

1988...Powerful afternoon thunderstorms prompted a rare, late season tornado watch for the area during December 24 ( Franklin, Tn., was devastated by a twister ).  Rainfall totals reached 1.40" at Norton WP and 0.71" at Clintwood 1 W during Christmas Eve.  Dry and cooler conditions dominated Christmas day.

1989...Arctic cold & snow.  Temps as cold as -20+ below zero occurred amid upper elevation basins from the High Knob Massif to Burkes Garden during the Dec 23-25 period.  A 4" snow depth was observed at Wise 1 SE on Christmas day, with deeper depths in the High Knob highcountry.

1990...NWS Cooperative Stations in Clintwood and Wise were the only official sites in Virginia to report 1" or more of snow depth during Christmas     ( this included northern slopes in the City of Norton, with deeper depths along the High Knob Massif ).

1991...Light snow flurries fell on Christmas Eve with none on the ground amid the lower elevations at Clintwood 1 W on Christmas.

1992...Heavy snow developed during afternoon on Christmas day, with up to 6"+ accumulating across mid-upper elevations of the High Knob Landform & Tennessee Valley Divide.  A total of 2.6" were observed in Clintwood.

1993...Snow developed during Christmas day with intense afternoon snow squalls.  A snow depth of 6" was measured at Clintwood 1 W by early hours of December 26.  Air temps plunged to -3 below zero on Eagle Knob of the High Knob Massif, amid snow depths of up to 12"+ .

1994...A Christmas morning snow depth of 1" atop the High Knob Massif, with no snow in the valleys.

1995...A 1" snow depth on Christmas morning increased during the day, with 4.2" of new snow falling at Clintwood 1 W.  Snow depths of 6" to 8" were reported across the High Knob Massif.

1996...A dramatic warming trend brought rain, with 0.98" to 1.01" measured in the City of Norton into Christmas Eve day ( 0.58" at Clintwood 1 W ).  Colder air and flurries returned during Christmas day.

1997...Mostly cloudy & mild holiday.  Rainfall totals of 0.26" at Norton WP and 0.15" at Clintwood 1 W into Christmas morning.  Major back to back winter storms followed Christmas, with snow depths of 12" in the City of Norton and 18" to 36" across the High Knob highcountry by Dec 31. 

1998...A preholiday ice storm during Dec 23-24, with 1" of packed ice and sleet remaining on the ground at Clintwood 1 W on Christmas morning.  For the second consecutive year significant snow followed Christmas, with depths of 4" in Clintwood and 6" to 10"+ across the High Knob Massif by December 31.

1999...Snow fell during December 24-25 with 3"    of depth observed at Clintwood 1 W on Christmas morning ( 7" on High Knob ).  Cold.  A Christmas morning temp of 3 degrees in Norton.

2000...A Christmas morning snow depth of 2" at Norton Water Plant ( Norton WP ), with 4" to 6" across the High Knob highcountry.  Cold with MINS near zero or below ( 3 degrees Norton ).

2001...Bare ground across the entire Appalachian range on Christmas morning ( south of the Pennsylvania border ).

2002...Christmas morning snow depth of 1"              at Norton WP, with new snow during the day increasing the mean depth to 4" by later on December 25 ( deeper across the High Knob Massif ).

2003...Christmas morning snow depth of 5" at Norton WP ( down from a mean depth of 14" on Dec 21 ).  Much deeper Christmas morning depths on northern slopes of High Knob Massif, above the City of Norton, where snow depths topped 20"      on December 21.

2004...Christmas morning snow depths of a foot or more in places across northern slopes of the High Knob Lake Basin were the most reported in the region ( up to 9" of depth were measured following 44 consecutive hours of above freezing temps into December 30 ).

2005...Christmas Eve found a solid blanket of snow covering only upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, with a generally bare landscape below 3000 feet.  A nasty mix of sleet and freezing rain created hazardous road conditions, with numerous traffic accidents and abandoned vehicles along Alt. 58 between Norton & Castlewood.  Christmas day featured an array of conditions that included rain showers, fog, lightning & thunder, peeps of sun and evening light snow ( 1-5" of snow fell during December 26 ).

2006...Christmas day got off to a chilly, wet start on gusty SSE-SE upslope flow into the High Knob Massif.  This formed standing lee wave clouds during the day.  Snowflakes subsequently flew, for the second year in a row, the day after Christmas with 2" to 3"+ of snow and riming in the High Knob highcountry.

2007...Warming temperatures and a couple of rain events washed away all the pre-Christmas snow from even the coldest, northern slopes such that bare ground was found yet again across the Appalachians ( south of PA ) for the third time this decade on Christmas ( not a surprise during this driest year on record, with its anemic 4" to 7" snowfall start to the 2007-08 winter ).

2008...Bitter cold temps prior to the holiday, with -6 below zero atop Eagle Knob of the High Knob Massif on Dec 22, gave way to rapid warming on strong winds.  Rain, not snow, arrived in time for Christmas Eve with up to 0.60" measured at Big Cherry Dam of the High Knob Massif.  For the third consecutive year, and the fourth time this decade, Christmas day dawned with no snow on the ground south of the PA border ( amazing given the general 27"-36" snow start to the 2008-09 winter in the High Knob highcountry ).

2009...Beware of what you wish for!  A Mega-DUMP snowstorm dropped 2-3+ feet of snow depth upon the High Knob Massif during December 18-19 ( with drifts of 4-5+ feet ), amid a orographically enhanced circulation.  The storm stranded residents and paralyzed the surrounding area with massive power outages that kept many in the dark right through the Christmas Holiday ( a few had no phone line service until February 2010 ).

These 30 Christmases ended with a great BANG, and BOOM, as the December 2009 winter storm was the most devastating event to strike locally during these 3 decades of diverse holiday season events!

[ Reference this section of the website for details:

MEGA-Disaster Snowstorm of December 2009
http://www.highknoblandform.com/2010/01/mega-disaster-storm-of-december-2009.html ].

Updated...
2010...Second white Christmas in a row!  It would have been a white Christmas regardless, given the presence of old snow, but a fresh blanket of 2" to 3" accumulated into Christmas morning to mark the beginning of a prolonged period of upslope snow.  Depths on Christmas Morn varied from 3" to 7" in Clintwood to around 15" on Eagle Knob of the High Knob Massif.

[ Snow depths by December 27 varied from 7" to 13" in Clintwood to a general 12" to 24" above 3000 feet in the High Knob Massif        ( with drifts to 3 feet or more ) ].


A few data sources for this 30-year period included,

The High Knob Massif

Blue Ridge Public Television
Eagle Knob Weather Station
Terry Surface
Carl Henderson
Dennis Salyer
Marty Genusa
Wayne Browning

Virginia-Kentucky Communications
Steve Blankenbecler

High Chaparral Community
Joe & Darlene Fields and Family

Robinson Knob Community
Otis & Nancy Ward

Little Mountain Community
James & Carol Bolling
Cal Adams
David & Ann ( Marie ) Sturgill

Big Cherry Dam & South Fork Gorge
Gary Hampton & Staff of the Big Stone Gap Water Plant

Flat Gap Community
Johnny Combs

Head of Powell Valley
Elizabeth & Addison Stallard
Sharon Daniels

Cracker Neck of Powell Valley
Tracy & Jennifer Garrison

Skeens Ridge of Powell Valley
Ida & David Holyfield

Appalachia Lake
Jack Pitts & Staff of Appalachia Lake Water Plant

Dual Norton Reservoirs
Tommy Roberts & Staff of Norton Water Plant

Lakes of the High Knob Massif Area
Larry Robbins

Flatwoods Community
Janet Couch

Clinch Ranger District of Jefferson National Forest
United States Forest Service Staff ( Wise Office )

Virginia Department of Transportation ( VDOT )
Wise Office
Coeburn Office
East Stone Gap Office

High Knob Landform ( Landscape & Environment )
Roddy Addington
Bill Harris
Harold Jerrell
Wayne Riner
Richard Kretz
Darlene Fields
Jimmy Stidham
Jonathan Owens
Otis Ward
Alan Cressler
Jimmy Fawbush
Ron Flanary
Johnny Stanley
Donnie Rose
Rodney Parsons
Karen Peters
Tim Mullins
John King
Beckie Roberts
Dan Weemhoff
Members of The Clinch Coalition
Members of The U.S. Forest Service
Plus many ( MANY ) others.............

City of Norton
Norton Water Plant Staff
AWS Weatherbug at Norton Elementary School
Jimmy Fawbush

Town of Wise
Roy L. Wells, Jr. & ETS Staff 
Wise 1 SE & Wise 3 E NWS Cooperative Stations
Wise RAWS - United States Forest Service
LNP AWOS - Lonesome Pine Airport

Town of Appalachia
Jack Pitts
Mark Quillin

Town of Coeburn
Coeburn Filtration Plant Staff

Town of Big Stone Gap
Big Stone Gap Wastewater Treatment Plant Staff
Frank Gentry

Town of Pennington Gap
Pennington Gap Water Plant Staff

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Carol Borneman & Staff

Town of Pound
Geneva Varner & Staff of North Fork of Pound Dam

Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge
Wayne & Genevie Riner

Special Thanks To The Main Photographers
Roddy Addington
Bill Harris
Harold Jerrell
Richard Kretz
Wayne Riner
Darlene Fields
Alan Cressler


This is only a partial listing of the many who make what I do possible.  To all those named and the many others un-named, which I've met and talked with over the years, I am so very thankful and appreciative to each and every one! 

Finally, an extra special thanks to my friend Roddy Addington whose been the lead photographer of this website and become a partner in this effort to showcase the High Knob Landform ( giving local residents, the region, and world new understanding for a very special portion of planet Earth! ).  

Rod now has his own fine print website that will feature many new photographs from nature to sports and beyond in the coming year.

[ Rod Addington Photography
http://www.rodaddingtonphotos.com/fine-art-prints ].


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 2010 Opens Wintry & Wild


High Knob Massif
Looking Across the High Knob Landform
Winter Majesty - December 1, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Mountain majesty was illuminated by glorious light as a relatively rare union of season and time united to open December 2010, and meteorological winter, with snow showers and biting wind chills in the High Knob highcountry.

Elevation 4223 feet
Wind Swept High Knob Meadow - Late Afternoon
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Crunchy footsteps in the snow are made by photographer Roddy Addington walking to create another stunning moment in time, as upslope clouds barely clear the summit of wind swept High Knob Meadow in their fight against drying, late afternoon air.

December 1, 2010
High Knob Meadow
Lonely Bench - No Sweethearts Today! 
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Gusty winds working upon temperatures in the upper 10s kept this idyllic bench vacant today, as wind driven overnight rains gave way to snow showers and plunging chill factors!

[ The most significant storm system since late October 2010 generated 3.00" to 4.00"+ of precipitation across much of the High Knob Landform, with a gush of whitewater filling steep creeks and providing liquid gold to water supply lakes of the High Knob Massif ( boosting 2010 precipitation into the 60.00" to 65.00"+ range within wetter portions of the massif ) ].

December 1, 2010
RIME ( Of course ) - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The snow, rime, and bitter wind chills of December 1 being, perhaps, only a tease of what is upcoming during the December 4-7 period when a rather potent clipper system will help establish a potentially significant and prolonged NW upslope flow event ( from the Great Lakes into the Appalachians ).

Awesome Photograph
Magnificent Orographic Clouds & Mountains 
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

[ This gorgeous vista illustrates the rugged nature of the High Knob Massif, looking southwest across the plunging opening of awesome South Fork Gorge in the foreground ].


The Sunset
December 1, 2010

Sunset Begins - High Knob Massif Crest Zone
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

Photographer Bill Harris showcases the truly gorgeous sunset that him and Roddy observed amid frigid wind chills in the High Knob Massif Crest Zone.

[ Note that in each of these photographs is a standing lenticular cloud, with flat bottom and rounded top, that remains essentially stationary near the center of each view as the sun slips beneath the mountain horizon ].

Mountain Horizon Sunset - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

Mountain sunsets vary depending upon where you live with respect to the local horizon, with deep valleys having dark shadows cast across them long before high crestlines.

Glory of Sunset Complete
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

I have been so very humbled to witness a rare display of light from the High Knob Massif summit in past years known as Apenglow that develops after sunset ( or before sunrise ).

The first time I witnessed Apenglow many years ago I did not even realize what it was, only that the mountains looked bigger and more blue than I had ever seen before beneath a color filled sky.  Truly a
wondrous experience!

[ Beneath crystal clear skies an Apenglow-like condition can also occasionally be observed from the floor of Powell Valley, with a special treat being featured if the mountains are snow covered such that the great bands of calcareous cliffs stand out amid the incredible lighting accompanying this optical magic! ].


The Clipper Snow
December 4, 2010

Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Winter Wonderland At The Lonesome Pine
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A fast & furious fall of snow quickly transformed the mountain landscape into a winter wonderland during mid-day on December 4, as a fast moving clipper raced southeast into the Appalachians.

Lonesome Pine Country Club
Beauty On The Greens - Powell Valley
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Great mountain walls of the High Knob Massif became completely obscured by snowfall, as illustrated well in the next photograph where the large, vertical rise of Grindstone Dome is not even imagined looming above this scenic, arched bridge.

December 4, 2010
Heavy Snow In Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

[ Reference this section of the website to see what the above scene looks like amid a foggy, morning sunrise:

May 2010 - Flash Flooding Strikes Again!

Clippers are so named because they travel fast and often lay down a relatively narrow but heavy band of snow along and north of their trajectories.

Powell Valley Barn - After Snowfall Began
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

In this case the southwestern end of the HKL and most of the Great Valley of eastern Tennessee were on the "warm" side of the clipper track, with rain and mixed precip dominating over snow ( 0.6" of snow fell at TRI before a change to rain ).

Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Round Bales Collecting Snow - Dec 4
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The great eye of photographer Roddy Addington caught many scenic settings.

Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Holiday Scene Perfected By Mother Nature
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Imagine what travel must have been like in a snowstorm when one of these were the best mode of transportation ( and its not been that long ago! ).

The Old Timey Way
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Was the "improvement" away from horse power really a big plus ( or win-win as they say ), or was it like when they "improved" Juicy Fruit Gum?

[ My Dad used to always carry Juicy Fruit gum and give it away to all the kids.  Well, that is, until they "improved" it.  Now it hardly even smells, let alone tastes, like the good ole stuff! ].

December 4, 2010
Near To The "Modern Age"
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


NW Upslope Flow Snow
December 5, 2010

High Knob Massif
Wise County, Virginia
Wicked Conditions - State Route 619
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Wicked conditions were experienced across the High Knob highcountry during the afternoon of December 5, as a gusty NW upslope flow cranked out the snowfall and piled it into 2 foot drifts along State Route 619 in Wise County.

High Knob Massif
Forest Service Route 238
Wind Sculptured Snow Drifts & RIME
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Similar conditions were seen on Forest Service 238 and reported along the Wise-Scott border on FS 237 ( with 2-3+ feet drifts ) in the upper basin of Big Cherry Lake.

[ Afternoon temps in the 10s made the above conditions truly wicked when combined with gusty NW winds and occasional LOW visibility in snow squalls and RIME producing clouds ].

Scott County, Virginia
Upper Little Stony Basin of Clinch River
Bark Camp Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Joe & Darlene Fields measured 8" of snow depth in the High Chaparral community during the early evening of December 5, as snow continued to fall steadily.

[ The approximate storm snowfall total up to 8 PM December 5, with half the tally in NW Flow snow.  The High Chaparral measuring site is at an elevation of 3300 feet ( 923 vertical feet lower than the peak of High Knob where the snowfall total was figured to be 10"+ and increasing! ) ].

Roddy again highlights the visual and textural differences between snow and rime with a couple of contrasting photographs.

High Knob Massif ( Mid-Upper Elevations )
RIME Encased Weed Stem - December 5
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Riming was just beginning into Dec 5 as much more would be added during the next 48-hours of NW upslope flow, with James Bolling reporting 2" or more on trees in Big Cherry Basin by Dec 7.

High Knob Massif ( Wind sheltered spots )
Snow Covered Weed Stem - December 5
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

This is mostly snow despite that one-sided pattern often characteristic of rime deposition.

High Knob Massif
Jefferson National Forest
Upper Falls of Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Snow was not as deep at the 2200 foot level of the Upper Falls in Little Stony Gorge, but scenes were simply magnificent!

High Knob Massif
Big Falls of Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Snowshowers were occasionally vigorous into this upper portion of Little Stony Gorge, where the whitewater creek drops 780 vertical feet in its 3.0 mile plunge downstream through the gorge.

Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Vigorous Snowshower At Upper Falls
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Above the massif this was a day dominated by orographic gravity waves, with standing waves and leewaves being present throughout the daylight hours on NASA Visible imagery.

NASA Visible Image at 10:45 AM on December 5, 2010

[ Gravity wave clouds can be seen across nearly the entire extent of the High Knob Landform, to southwest of Cumberland Gap NHP, and leeward of it into northern Tennessee ].

Snow was also significant along the Tennessee Valley Divide, with Wayne & Genevie Riner measuring 5.2" of snowfall into morning hours of December 5 in the highlands of Dickenson County.

An additional 4.2" fell by 7 AM on December 6 to push the Long Ridge snowfall tally to 9.4" ( at 2650 feet ).

Elevation 2650 feet
Long Ridge of Tennessee Valley Divide
Asparagus And The Snow - December 5, 2010
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Notes...
"Even though it is only early December, it seems like mid-winter.  The only things recognizable of the garden are the asparagus and a sunflower bent with age."

December 5, 2010
Highlands of southern Dickenson County
Long Ridge of Tennessee Valley Divide
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.



NW Upslope Flow
Snowfall Continues
December 6, 2010

High Knob Massif
7:45 AM on December 6
11" of Snow Depth In High Chaparral
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend Darlene Fields measured 11" of snow depth at her home in High Chaparral at 7:45 AM on December 6, as NW upslope flow snow kept falling across the High Knob Massif.

Elevation 3300 feet
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Closing In On A FOOT Of Depth
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Given weekend settlement, this 11" depth means that more than a foot of snow has actually fallen at this 3300 foot elevation in the High Knob highcountry.

High Knob Massif
Beautiful BUT Slick - High Chaparral - Dec 6
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Beautiful but SLICK road conditions made travel tricky through this wintry wonderland.

December 6, 2010
Heavy Morning Snow - Lee County, Virginia
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Photographer Harold Jerrell captured a burst of heavy morning snowfall in Lee County, with big, fluffy flakes characteristic of prime dendritic crystal growth in cold air aloft.



NW Upslope Flow
Snowfall Begins To Wane
December 7, 2010

Elevation 3300 feet
Deep Snow In High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Upslope snow continued into morning hours of December 7, with a storm total fall of 17.0" being measured by Darlene Fields in the High Chaparral community of the High Knob Massif.

[ Since snow depths tend to vary so much due to wind, settlement, compaction, and other factors a good way to more accurately measure snowfall is to occasionally measure and sweep off the snow ( note Darlene has swept off a portion of her picnic table above ).

One should not sweep & measure more than 4 times in 24-hours, or once every 6 hours if possible, as outlined in detail by:

The Snow Booklet of Colorado State University.

Colorado State University:  The Snow Booklet


December 7, 2010
14" Ground Depth - High Chaparral
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Snow depths varied greatly across the upper elevations of the High Knob highcountry, above 3000 feet, during morning hours of December 7.

Elevation 4189 feet
Deep Snow & Heavy Rime
Eagle Knob Communications Area
Photograph by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend Steve Blankenbecler reported that snow depths across the Eagle Knob to High Knob section varied from around a foot to 24-30" .

Wind Blown Snow & Rime
Eagle Knob Communications Area
Photograph by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

Some roads were impassable due to large snow drifts, with James Bolling reporting 4 foot drifts on Forest Service Route 237 along Little Mountain of the High Knob Massif.

[ James estimated 12"-18" of snowfall at his home above majestic Big Cherry Lake, with 2"+ of RIME deposition on trees generating a glorious scene amid all the drifting ].

High Knob Massif
Heavy RIME & Deep Snow - December 7
 Photograph by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

One man reported that the snow was above the hood on his Toyota 4x4 truck, as he tried to push through what had been blown across the road!

Highlands of southern Dickenson County
Long Ridge of Tennessee Valley Divide
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Snowfall & depths were also significant along the Tennessee Valley Divide, with 13.0" of snow measured by Wayne & Genevie Riner into morning hours of December 7.

[ A mean snow depth of 8" at 2650 feet elevation was amid local      1-2 foot snow drifts ].

High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Red Winterberries ( Ilex spp. ) In Snow
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

With another major winter storm episode shaping up for the December 12-14 period, it was starting to look alot like another rough snow season in the High Knob highcountry!

[ The December 4-7 event pushed the 2010-11 winter snowfall tally into the 20"-30" range above 3000 feet in the massif, with 22.8" in High Chaparral ]. 



Climate Statistics for
November 2010

November 28, 2010
Cliff Mountain of High Knob Massif
The Divide - North Fork of the Clinch River Gap
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Majestic Cliff Mountain forms the northeastern side of The Divide at the southwestern end of the remnant highcountry massif of High Knob, lying between Jasper and the Duffield Valley.

[ The nearly horizontal band of Cedar trees seen high upon the mountain denotes the same zone of great calcareous cliffs seen many miles to the northeast ringing majestic Powell Valley in Wise County, Virginia ].

November 28, 2010
High Knob Massif ( southwest end )
Rugged Cliff Mountain Above Jasper
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A better view showing the great cliffs is found from along U.S. 23 in the Jasper and Lovelady Valley section of Lee County, Virginia.

The Divide is a notable weather change zone for travelers along the famed Country Music Highway, with often dramatic condition changes depending upon what direction winds are blowing!

[ The southwestern side of The Divide is formed by the bowed confluence of Powell Mountain with Wallen Ridge, whose union create the majestic Wallen Creek Basin amid which Stickleyville is nestled in northeastern Lee County ].


Local November Statistics

Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 57.9 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 29.7 degrees
MEAN: 43.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 70 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 20 degrees
November Snowfall: Trace
Total Precipitation: 3.02" ( Ending 7 AM Nov 30 )
Nov 30-Dec 1 Rainfall: 2.49"
2010 Precipitation: 42.24" ( as of 7 AM Dec 1 )

( Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge )
Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 55.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 36.6 degrees
MEAN: 45.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 68 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 23 degrees
November Snowfall: 1.6"
Total Precipitation: 3.30" ( Ending 7 AM Nov 30 )
Nov 30-Dec 1 Rainfall: 2.29"
2010 Precipitation: 44.22" ( as of 7 AM Dec 1 )

City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Daily MAX: 55.3 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 28.5 degrees
MEAN: 41.9 degrees
Highest Temperature: 69 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 16 degrees
November Snowfall: 1-2"
Total Precipitation: 3.67" ( Ending 9 AM Nov 30 )
Nov 30-Dec 1 Rainfall: 3.20"
2010 Precipitation: 52.36" ( as of 9 AM Dec 1 )

In the High Knob highcountry, November temp means varied from mid 40s to lower 50s in upper elevations by day to lower-middle 20s in colder basins by night ( lower-middle 30s on exposed ridges ).

A general 4" to 6" of snow fell across upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, above 3000 feet, during November.

[ Reference this section of the website for details:

Early November 2010: First Wintry BLAST!

The most significant precip event of the month ironically followed the gorgeous, crystal clear skies highlighted above to make record keeping a pain for comparison ( since local stations end the month around sunrise on Nov 30 while regional, first-order stations end it at Midnight ).

Little Stony Creek of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Andrew Greer reported 11 vertical feet of rise        on the Upper Norton Reservoir during the week ending on December 1, as more than 4.00" of rain soaked Benges Basin of the High Knob Massif.


Regional Climate Statistics
For November 2010

Jackson, Ky., NWSFO - Elevation 1365 feet
Average Daily MAX: 59.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 38.7 degrees
MEAN: 48.9 degrees
Highest Temperature: 73 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 27 degrees
November Snowfall: Trace
Total Precipitation: 5.77"
2010 Precipitation: 42.29"

London, Kentucky - Elevation 1211 feet
Average Daily MAX: 59.4 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 35.2 degrees
MEAN: 47.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 73 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 22 degrees
Total Precipitation: 6.62"
2010 Precipitation: 44.09"

Buckhorn Lake State Park, Ky., - Elevation 780 feet
Average Daily MAX: 59.7 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 32.8 degrees
MEAN: 46.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 74 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 24 degrees
Total Precipitation: 4.20"
2010 Precipitation: 42.34"
( 1 day missing September / 1 day November )

Tri-Cities, Tennessee - Elevation 1525 feet
Average Daily MAX: 60.4 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 34.8 degrees
MEAN: 47.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 71 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 21 degrees
November Snowfall: Trace
Total Precipitation: 4.79"
2010 Precipitation: 34.74"

Knoxville, Tennessee - Elevation 981 feet
Average Daily MAX: 62.5 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 39.4 degrees
MEAN: 51.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 74 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 27 degrees
November Snowfall: Trace
Total Precipitation: 6.73"
2010 Precipitation: 43.60"

Chattanooga, Tennessee - Elevation 683 feet
Average Daily MAX: 63.9 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 40.4 degrees
MEAN: 52.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 75 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 28 degrees
November Snowfall: 0
Total Precipitation: 8.00"
2010 Precipitation: 40.48"

Richmond, Va., ( State Capitol ) -  Elevation 167 feet
Average Daily MAX: 61.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 38.8 degrees
MEAN: 50.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 74 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 26 degrees
Total Precipitation: 1.27"
2010 Precipitation: 32.63"


Special Feature:
Natural Tunnel State Park
& Rye Cove Karst Basin

November 21, 2010
Natural Tunnel State Park
South Portal of The Natural Tunnel
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The Natural Tunnel is a unique geologic and historic feature of our mountain landscape.  It is the simply awesome centerpiece of 850-acre Natural Tunnel State Park.

[ Reference geologist Tony Scales wonderful book,
Natural Tunnel: Nature's Marvel In Stone, for a detailed description of the history and geology of this natural wonder ].

November 21, 2010
Natural Tunnel State Park
A Dab of Thanksgiving Week Color
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Formed over time by the often rushing water of Stock Creek of the High Knob Massif, my interest in The Natural Tunnel also extends into other realms not often considered by most but relevant to nearly all aspects of this great natural wonder.

Stock Creek Basin originates beneath the 3567 foot peak of Thunderstruck Knob of Powell Mountain in the High Knob Massif, and enlarges in size to form another multi-gorge complex amid the massif as it drains rugged, diverse terrain from Stock Creek Gorge into Laurel Fork Gorge and Dry Fork Gorge ].

November 21, 2010
Wave Clouds Above Rye Cove
At First Light - Anderson Blockhouse Replica
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Roddy Addington's gift and talent for capturing unique moments in time is illustrated by these photographs which showcase a wondrous array of wave clouds above Rye Cove and Natural Tunnel State Park on the morning of November 21.

Cove Ridge In Natural Tunnel State Park
Wave Clouds Amid Flowing Air - Nov 21
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The climate & biodiversity of the grand Rye Cove Karst Basin and Natural Tunnel State Park are intimately connected to the High Knob Massif, having been shaped and controlled over time by the complex interactions between it and flowing air!

High Knob Massif Across Horizon ( to left )
Historic Anderson Blockhouse Replica - Nov 21
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Natural Tunnel State Park & the Rye Cove Karst Basin tend to get more precipitation, for example, if low-level winds are blowing into the High Knob Massif from a southerly direction, while much less precipitation tends to fall if flowing air is downsloping off the highcountry of the massif from NW, N, NE directions ( especially visible and distinct with snowfall ).

[ Doppler radar and satellite imagery suggests that air flow funneling through The Divide, or North Fork of the Clinch River Gap ( highlighted previously ), can occasionally impact weather conditions into the Natural Tunnel State Park area, as can winds downsloping off the flanks of the High Knob Landform to the southwest of its remnant highcountry massif ].

November 21, 2010
Natural Tunnel State Park
Old Time Sitting Place Welcomes Everyone
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Many specific storm examples could be cited to illustrate the above, but better yet just go and visit this grand natural wonder during any season and see if you can notice interesting weather variations!

Nocturnal air drainage, not noted above, is another very important aspect that impacts Natural Tunnel State Park and the Rye Cove Basin throughout the year as air drains outward and away from the High Knob Massif ].



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Early November 2010: First Wintry BLAST!


State Route 619
High Knob Massif
Snow, Rime, & Slippery Roads!
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform

The first real wintry blast of the 2010-11 winter season spread several accumulations of snow over the High Knob Landform, and adjacent high terrain along the Tennessee Valley Divide, during the November 4-6 period.

[ Total snowfall was greater than ground depths in most locations, with this event being primarily a mid-upper elevation snowfall for locations above 2000 feet ].

November 6, 2010
Early Christmas Scene - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Photographer Roddy Addington captured an array of gorgeous scenes to get everyone in an early Christmas mood, despite it being several weeks before Thanksgiving!

The first snowflakes began falling above 3000 feet in the High Knob Massif during morning hours of November 4, with some minor sticking only at the highest elevations.

Elevation 3300 feet
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend Joe Fields measured 2.5" of snow in the High Chaparral community during the morning of November 5, following a burst of heavy snowfall that also caught everyone's attention as it coated adjacent portions of the Wise Plateau.

Photographs Courtesy of WCYB-TV Archives
News 5 of the Tri-Cities

Heavy Snow In Wise
Photograph Courtesy of David Shelton

Bear Creek of the Wise Plateau
Photograph Courtesy of Cornelius Sabugo

KLNP Elevation: 2684 feet
Heavy Snow Near Lonesome Pine Airport
Photograph Courtesy of Lisa Gilley

Along the Tennessee Valley Divide
Beautiful Camp Bethel in Wise
Photograph Courtesy of Dee Stanley

My friend & photographer Wayne Riner documented the snow band at it spread into the Tennessee Valley Divide of southern Dickenson County, with 0.3" of accumulation on Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge ( E-ENE of the Wise Plateau ).

[ The following morning generated 1.3" of new snowfall at Nora 4 SSE on Long Ridge, for a 1.6" event total during Nov 5-6 ].

Elevation 2650 feet
Tennessee Valley Divide
Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge - November 5, 2010
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

The snow burst during morning hours of November 5 also spread across the northwestern flank of the High Knob Landform into portions of the Lee County, Va., karst valleys, where my friend and photographer Harold Jerrell captured the fury.

November 5, 2010
Home On The Farm - Lee County, Virginia
 Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Some lingering autumn color amid the lowlands of the Powell River Basin added to the furious burst.

Calcareous Core of High Knob Landform
Fury of Snow Burst - November 5, 2010
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

That the burst of heavy snow was able to spread into lowlands of the Powell River Basin suggested it was being supported by some enhanced upward vertical motion southwestward of the Tennessee Valley Divide, as similar to higher elevations in the Russell Fork Basin ( N-NE of the Divide and HKL ) had only a few flakes mixed with sleet and rain.

Powell River Basin
November 5, 2010
Late Autumn Color & Snow
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

While snow mostly melted in lower elevations of the Powell River Valley, it accumulated amid higher reaches of the Stone-Cumberland mountain arm of the HKL, with significant sticking likely in upper elevations of the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park ( above 2500-3000 feet ).

November 5, 2010
Northwestern Flank of HKL near Cumberland Gap NHP
Cumberland Mountain Above Rose Hill - Lee County
 Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

[ The mountain becomes much higher in elevation just southwest of the above scene, into upper elevations of Bailes Meadow and the famous Hensley Settlement of great Cumberland Gap NHP ( the entire mountain crestline being completely continuous with the High Knob Massif and Cumberland Gap ) ].



Amazing Wintry Scenes
In The High Knob Massif
November 6, 2010

Slick Roads In High Knob highcountry
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Another wave of snowfall brought similar accumulations back to the High Knob highcountry into morning hours of November 6, after most of the previous snow had melted away.

New Snow In High Chaparral - November 6
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend Darlene Fields reported around 2" of new accumulation in High Chaparral during the morning of November 6, bringing the event snowfall total to 4.5" at 3300 feet.

My friends Otis & Nancy Ward reported a similar amount early on November 6 in the Robinson Knob community ( elevation 3230 feet ).

USFS Route 238
High-Eagle Crest Zone ( 4100 feet )
Snow & Riming Amid The Clouds - Nov 6
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

Photographer Bill Harris took an awesome picture of conditions along the crest zone of the massif that him and Roddy encountered, to include a biting morning wind chill ( conditions changed rapidly, as they often do up there, a short while later as sunshine appeared and snow began melting-sublimating yet again ). 

Some of the deepest snow accumulated      upon upper north slopes and across peaks getting numerous bursts of heavy snow, however, depths were never reflective of total falls in most places.

Elevation 4189 feet
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
Image by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

Event totals during November 4-6 varied between 1" and 6" above 2000 feet within central-southern Wise County, extreme northern Lee & Scott, and southern Dickenson counties ( accumulating snowfall locally dropping lower in elevation along some windward facing slopes such as Pine Mountain on the Virginia-Kentuky border & within the lovely Wallen Creek Basin in Stickleyville of the HKL ).

[ The greatest 4" to 6" totals accumulating during the Nov 4-6 period above 3000 feet in the High Knob Massif, with water contents on Eagle Knob suggesting at least 6" of total snowfall ( although, as noted, daily melting & sublimation kept most ground depths less ).

A general 1" to 3" of snow accumulated during the period within the middle elevations ( 2000-3000 foot zone ), with local accumulations reported below 2000 feet ].

Gorgeous White of Pristine Snow
Fern Buried By Snow - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Event snowfall totals can sometimes be rather deceiving if the ground is relatively warm, like it has been recently in the wake of a warmer than average autumn, with rapid snow melt and settlement even at high elevations ( local exceptions being found upon upper north slopes and in any drift zones ).   

Majestic Scene - High Knob highcountry
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Scenic settings are abundant in the High Knob highcountry during such nice wintry blasts, with glorious rime formation adding to this pure and truly magnificent beauty captured by Roddy.

High Knob Massif
Awesome RIME Swirl - November 6, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Roddy & this website have made a very special effort to document and illustrate the often amazing nature of rime, which essentially can be thought of as the deposition of frozen clouds of water!

Its extraction and deposition made possible by trees and vegetation growing amid the upper elevation cloud zone ( above 3000 feet ) of the sprawling High Knob Massif ( dropping lower in elevation at times ).

To refresh information about rime, please reference the following sections of my website:

High Knob Massif Dazzles In First Wintry Blast

Winter Wonderland - Early December 2009

Belated Christmas Present: Winter Beauty

February 2010 - Month of NW Flow Snowfall

Majesty Of An Endless Winter In The HKL

March 2010 Intro: The Big Show Part I

Glorious Spring Renewal & March Madness!

The above sections include examples of soft rime, hard rime, feathery rime, and even rime coated ice straws in addition to other special settings.

High Knob Massif
November  6, 2010
Last Sugar Maple Color & RIME
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Rime and snow are much different, with the following photograph illustrating classic riming with depositional growth into the wind.

High Knob Massif - November 6, 2010
Classic Windward Riming
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

This next beauty being mostly snow.

Color Hangs On For Snow!
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Then there are the Exotic Formations!

Likely Fern Encased In Snow
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Snow, rime, and hoar frost often combine to generate rather exotic scenes, with riming and hoar frost being most efficient transformers of previous growing season vegetation into hard to recognize but truly beautiful entities!

High Knob Massif
November 6, 2010
Magnificent Lighting of Crystals & Snow
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

When I see the spiral leaves of the above plant it immediately brings to mind an orchid species ( although not likely ), and otherwise reminds one of human figurines frozen in time by the icy, cold breath of the Ole Man of Winter!

Strange But Exotic - November 6, 2010
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Rime covered spider webs are always a favorite, with huge surface to volume ratios of a web truly illustrating how strong the fibers are to support the weight of rime deposition and/or ice crystal growth.

November 6, 2010
Rime Webs In The High Knob highcountry
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A bitter cold night like the current one, with temps dropping into the 10s, will add many hoar frost crystals to this wondrous mix of wintry magic ( even where rime & snow have melted or sublimated ).

[ MIN temps dipped into the 10s from the City of Norton and Tacoma corridor upward into mid-upper elevation basins of the High Knob Massif during morning hours of November 7 ( with another cold morning on tap in mountain valleys for Nov 8 ) ].

High Knob Massif - November 6, 2010
Suspended In Air - Crystals & Snow
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

More Ferns buried in snow.

High Knob Massif - November 6, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

To see all the different Fern species which have been documented in the High Knob Landform please reference:


It is interesting to observe how the warmth of these living ferns has generated a melting zone where snow and rime have come into contact with their surfaces, such that a layer of ice has developed to offer more protection ( like spraying strawberries to prevent freeze damage, only here by the hand of Mother Nature ).

High Knob Massif
Buried Alive - Living Ferns Coloring Snow
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Snow which is white upon falling and later becomes colored is often due to either the outward leaching of plant pigments, as is common in maple and oak leaves, or the growth of some types of algae.

Sugar Maple ( Acer saccharum var. saccharum )
Minor Leaching of Pigment Color - Nov 6
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Pigment leaching into rime is especially efficient, and I consider this photograph Roddy took amid the first riming event of the 2009-10 winter to be one of the best examples ever!

High Knob Massif
Ekman Spiral Rime Formation
Northern Red Oak ( Quercus rubra var. borealis )
Pigment Leaching Into Rime - October 18, 2009
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A close inspection of the above photograph finds it to be no less than incredible, with an ekman spiral rime formation and pronounced pigment leaching outward into the rime itself!

This next shot is simply just pretty!

Decorated For The Season
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Speaking of pretty, Wayne Riner offers some more lovely scenes from the highlands of southern Dickenson County taken during morning hours of November 6.

Tennessee Valley Divide
Our Garden In The Snow - Long Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

For snow lovers all these scenes presented during this update are precious, since most living amid the lower terrain ( below 2000 feet ) missed getting any significant snow to stick and cover the ground ( or to even fall with long awaited vigor! ).

From The High Pastures On Long Ridge
Looking Over Wakenva "Holler"
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Air temps remained just too warm during much of this event for snow to stick across lower elevations.

November 6, 2010
Retaining A Few Leaves
Yellow Poplar Near Mountain Orchard
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

For snow haters, this little DUDE that Roddy and Bill Harris had along for the ride says, "don't worry, a warming trend is coming back this week."

Don't Worry...Be HAPPY DUDES!
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

More winter likely by around November 18??

Stay tuned!