Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 2010: Mid-Summer Majesty In The HKL


July 11, 2010 - High Knob Massif
Pipevine Swallowtail ( Battus philenor )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The stunning Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly is part of mid-summer majesty in the High Knob Landform.  A common species observed during summer in the mountains ( given you take a moment to simply be still and observe the great natural world around you! ).

[ Dutchman's Pipe ( Aristolochia macrophylla ) tends to be their host plant with the various species of resident Milkweeds ( Asclepias spp. ) serving as sources of nectar ].

Pipevine Swallowtail In Motion - Identification Marks
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Identified by a distinct curl of seven orange spots on its hindwing, the Pipevine Swallowtail is merely one of more than 1,000 species of butterflies and moths gracing this truly diverse landscape of these ancient mountains! 

( Males have few to no white spots on their forewings )
Male Pipevine Swallowtail ( Battus philenor )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Other swallowtail butterflies in this area include:

Zebra Swallowtail ( Eurytides marcellus )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Giant Swallowtail
( Papilio cresphontes )

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ( Papilio glaucus )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Black Swallowtail
( Papilio polyxenes )

Black Swallowtail ( Papilio polyxenes ) Caterpillar
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Spicebush Swallowtail ( Papilio troilus )
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

[ Smaller Summer Azure ( Celastrina neglecta ) Butterflies are also present in the above scene ].

Spicebush Swallowtail ( Papilio troilus ) Caterpillar
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail
( Pterourus appalachiensis )

Before butterflies turn into the truly gorgeous creatures we most often see, many of their larval forms are simply incredible ( as highligted above )! 

Consider Roddy's absolutely beautiful, gentle looking Pipevine Swallowtail, which does not look so tame wrapped in its larval armory!!

Pipevine Swallowtail ( Battus philenor ) Caterpillar
Photograph by Alan Cressler - © All Rights Reserved.

Wow, what a transformation!

July 11, 2010 - High Knob Massif
Great Spangled Fritillary ( Speyeria atlantis )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Great Spangled Fritillary is one of numerous beautiful fritillaries to grace this most wondrous mountain landscape, adding color to its amazing palette of hues which extend from subterranean depths into the heavens above!

Meadow Fritillary
( Boloria bellona )

Silver-bordered Fritillary
( Boloria selene )

Variegated Fritillary
( Euptoieta claudia )

Aphrodite Fritillary
( Speyeria aphrodite )

Diana Fritillary ( Speyeria diana )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Regal Fritillary
( Speyeria idalia )

Another incredible creature currently working summer flowers is often mistaken for our resident Ruby-throated Hummingbird ( Archilochus colubris ).

July 11, 2010 - High Knob Massif
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth ( Hemaris thysbe )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The Hummingbird Clearwing is actually a form of sphinx moth of the family Lepidoptera.

At certain angles it is possible to see right through the centers of their amazing wings!

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth ( Hemaris thysbe )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

In addition to their incredibly long tongues, clear center wings, and awesome tail flaps, these little flying machines are a potpourri of colorations.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


Weather Conditions
for July 1-15, 2010

Looking to South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Multi-layered Clouds - AM of July 14, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

With all the color in this section, I thought it good to illustrate the pure beauty of mid-summer in the High Knob Landform with a wonderful black & white photograph by Roddy Addington.

[ Color is great for certain, but there is still something special about black & white photographs, especially given an awesome scene as viewed from the floor of Powell Valley in Wise County, Va., during early morning light ( with different orographic processes working to generate multiple cloud layers ) ].

Climate Statistics for July 1-15, 2010

Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Max: 83.0 degrees
Average Min: 57.5 degrees
Mean: 70.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 90 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 45 degrees
Days at or above 90 degrees in 2010: 2
Rainfall: 1.25"
2010 Precipitation: 26.25"

City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Max: 82.2 degrees
Average Min: 55.0 degrees
Mean: 68.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 89 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 44 degrees
Days at or above 90 degrees in 2010: 0
Rainfall: 1.14"
2010 Precipitation: 30.19"

In the High Knob highcountry, July 1-15 temp means varied from 70s by day to 50s by night, with mean July temperatures actually being lower than June ( as also observed in Clintwood & Norton ).

A general 1.00" to 3.00" of rain fell during the first half of the month across the massif ( heaviest between Big Cherry Basin & Bark Camp Lake of Little Stony Basin in northern Scott County, Virginia ).

[ The lower mean July temperatures being due to cool nights, with lower-middle 50s on average within the cooler mountain basins of mid-upper elevations in the massif area ].  

Colorful Version of Multi-layered Clouds - July 14
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Rainfall during the first half of July was below average, with nary a drop during the first 9 days of the month.  Wetness finally returning in the past week, with local 3.00" to 4.00"+ amounts in Lee County and the southwest end of the High Knob Landform ( especially across Cumberland Gap NHP ).

Regional Climate Statistics
for July 1-15, 2010

Jackson, Ky., NWSFO - Elevation 1365 feet
Average Max: 84.5 degrees
Average Min: 65.6 degrees
Mean: 75.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 91 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 57 degrees
Days at or above 90 degrees in 2010: 5
Rainfall: 1.51"
2010 Precipitation: 27.45"

London, Kentucky - Elevation 1211 feet
Average Max: 87.2 degrees
Average Min: 64.9 degrees
Mean: 76.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 95 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 55 degrees
Days at or above 90 degrees in 2010: 12
Rainfall: 1.70"
2010 Precipitation: 23.81"

Buckhorn Lake SP, Kentucky - Elevation 936 feet
Average Max: 87.9 degrees
Average Min: 63.0 degrees
Mean: 75.4 degrees
Highest Temperature: 95 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 50 degrees
Days at or above 90 degrees in 2010: 26
Rainfall: 1.92"
2010 Precipitation: 23.01"

Tri-Cities, Tennessee - Elevation 1525 feet
Average Max: 90.1 degrees
Average Min: 62.5 degrees
Mean: 76.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 97 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 58 degrees
Days at or above 90 degrees in 2010: 22
Rainfall: 0.88"
2010 Precipitation: 16.54"

Knoxville, Tennessee - Elevation 981 feet
Average Max: 92.1 degrees
Average Min: 69.8 degrees
Mean: 81.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 99 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 63 degrees
Days at or above 90 degrees in 2010: 33
Rainfall: 3.33"
2010 Precipitation: 23.18"

Richmond, Va., ( State Capitol ) - Elevation 167 feet
Average Max: 93.3 degrees
Average Min: 68.2 degrees
Mean: 80.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 104 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 56 degrees
Days at or above 90 degrees in 2010: 37
Rainfall: 0.60"
2010 Precipitation: 18.22"

The regional trend has been for northwest to southeast gradients in weather conditions, with hotter and drier conditions within the Great Valley and locations east of the Appalachians verses areas toward the northwest ( with exception of lower elevations amid the Kentucky foothills, this has also been exemplified by a notable upward spike in the number of 90 degree days in 2010 ).

Majestic Morning In The HKL - July 14, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

With respect to topographic variations, the same conditions highlighted on this website that forced earlier autumn colorations and later spring emergence in higher elevations of the High Knob Landform remain at work during summer ( they are just not as visible to untrained eye, since everything is now green outside of any drought stricken locations in the region ).

Harvestman or Granddaddy Long-legs ( Leiobunum sp. )
on a Poke Milkweed ( Asclepias exaltata ) - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

[ Reference the following sections on my website:

September Generates Wetness And Colorations
http://www.highknoblandform.com/2009/10/september-generates-wetness-and.html

High Knob Landform - Glorious Color Climax
http://www.highknoblandform.com/2009/10/high-knob-massif-reaches-glorious-color.html

Colors Peak In Lower Elevations of Cumberlands
http://www.highknoblandform.com/2009/10/lower-elevations-peak-in-breaks.html

HKL Spring Differences: Elevation + Latitude
http://www.highknoblandform.com/2010/05/spring-differences-with-elevation.html  ].


Radio Tower Elevation 3779 feet 
Morris Butte of High Knob Massif - July 14, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

During July 1-15, for example, average nightly lows in the 50s were locally common outside of    well exposed middle elevation ridges and plateaus of the thermal belt ( e.g., Nora 4 SSE & LNP ).

Minimums early in July dipped into the upper 30s to middle 40s within the High Knob Massif area, in rather dramatic contrast to the Great Valley of east Tennessee where July mins have only been in the upper 50s to lower 60s ( note July min of only 63 degrees in Knoxville, Tn., is 8 degrees warmer than the average nightly low in Norton for the entire July 1-15 period ).


Implications Of Climatic Differences
( Part of the BIG Picture )

High Knob Massif - July 11, 2010
Canada Lily ( Lilium canadense )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Cooler mean temperatures allows northern species of flora & fauna, such as this magnificent Canada Lily found by my friend Roddy Addington in the High Knob Massif, to live within higher elevations of the High Knob Landform.  

Canada Lily
( Lilium canadense var. canadense )

Canada Lily Variation ( Darker Phase ) 
( Lilium canadense var. editorum )

High Knob Massif
Illuminated by Afternoon Light - July 11, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

To be more precise, a darker phase or variation in this species has been recognized as noted above.

High Knob Massif - July 11, 2010
Turk's Cap Lily ( Lilium superbum )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Although Turk's Cap Lilies have a widespread range across Virginia, from the coastal plain to the mountains, those living within the highlands tend to reside in upper elevations.

Beauty of Turk's Cap Lily - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

These gorgeous highcountry lilies are merely the tip of a great iceberg of differences forced by climate changes directly related to terrain variations, which span all realms of the natural sciences.

Looking Up South Fork Gorge - High Knob Massif
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Everything presented on this website during the past 11 months has only just started to scratch the surface of these natural realms, the collective array of which defines what the High Knob Landform is.

High Knob Massif - July 9, 2010
Rugged Karst Landscape of High Knob Landform
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform ( HKL ) is:

A great continuous mountain landform
consisting of:

1 ). a remnant massif of highcountry ( High Knob Massif )

2 ). a northwestern mountain flank ( * )

3 ). a southeastern mountain flank

4 ). an eroded calcareous core that separates
the mountain flanks and narrows by headward erosion,
to the northeast, into the inverted V-shaped
Powell Valley ( adjacent to the High Knob peak ) .

*Contains Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and other magnificent natural wonders.

The above being the most basic definition for an extremely large and richly diverse Appalachian landform of the awesome Upper Tennessee & Upper Cumberland river basins ( a mountain landform so large that the biggest portion of the Clinch Mountain range, from Brumley Mountain to Round Mountain, could easily fit inside of its eroded calcareous core between The Cedars NAP and Cove Lake State Park in Tennessee ).

High Knob Massif - July 11, 2010
White Bergamot ( Monarda clinopodia ) Spotted Variety 
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

[ Reference the following section for the Name & Purpose of this website:

March 2010: Second Week - Spring Prelude!
http://www.highknoblandform.com/2010/03/march-2010-second-week-spring-prelude.html   ].

High Knob Massif - July 9, 2010
Karstic Rock Outcrop - Edge of Mountain Meadow
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


NOTE:  The following section of the website began to document severe flash flooding in Pike County, Ky., into the evening of July 17, 2010.  New updates were then added on the dates given.

Weather Update - July 18, 2010
Killer Flash Flooding Strikes
Pike County, Kentucky

JKL Doppler Rainfall Estimate - 12:01 AM July 18, 2010
Image Courtesy of Plymouth State University

[ Flash flooding developed as thunderstorms trained, and back built, along a stalled boundary of high energy air ( called a theta-e gradient ) situated over Pike County, Ky., with a downstream drift or propagation into portions of Buchanan and northern Tazewell counties of southwestern Virginia ].

Given the volatile nature of this mid-July atmosphere, I wanted to highlight the sudden, violent, and tragic flash flooding that struck Pike County, Ky., during the evening hours of July 17.

Although the Doppler radar rainfall estimate above has some hail contamination, making it read too high, several rain gauges reported 4.00" to 5.00"+ of rainfall ( mostly fell between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. July 17 ).

Two individuals lost their lives as homes, cars, and many other structures were literally washed away down creeks!

[ The Pike County Sheriff's Office initially reported 3 deaths.  Thankfully, that was downgraded to 2 and all of the missing have reportedly been accounted for.  Some good news in the wake of this tragedy ].

WSAZ NewsChannel 3 Team Coverage
of Pike County, Ky., Flash Flood
video
Video Courtesy of WSAZ-TV in Huntington, West Virginia

This occurred just 35 to 40 air miles north to northeast of the High Knob Landform, and is part of a series of torrential downpours that have struck localized corridors during the past several days.

Until this air mass changes it signals, like a Red Flag, that other local flash flooding events will be possible across the region.

Updated - July 24, 2010
Another severe flash flood event unfolded into early hours of July 21, north of Pike County, Ky., as thunderstorms trained along and just south of the Ohio River.

WSAZ NewsChannel 3 Coverage of
Carter County, Ky., Flash Flooding
video
Video Courtesy of WSAZ-TV in Huntington, West Virginia

[ The body of a 72-year old Carter County, Ky., woman was not found until July 24, after severe flash flooding had swept her mobile home off its foundation.  Flood waters carried her 6 miles downstream ].

JKL Doppler Rainfall Estimate - July 21, 2010
Image Courtesy of Plymouth State University

Important Follow Up Note...
HEAT had increased as of July 24, but the air mass had NOT changed.  As another front stalls during the week of July 25-31, the threat for more hit-miss flash flood events will be renewed!

[ Folks living along creeks and rivers, and in flood prone locales, should remain alert for rapid water rises should heavy rains develop over or upstream of their location ].


Updated - July 26, 2010
Yet Another Flash Flood Death

JKL Doppler Rainfall Estimate - 8 PM July 25, 2010
 Image Courtesy of Plymouth State University

Amazing Report
Courtesy of WSAZ-TV in Huntington, West Virginia

UPDATE 7/26/10 @ 6:45 p.m. by WSAZ-TV
DANVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- "Another round of floodwaters claimed another life over the weekend. This time, it was a man from Danville who was swept away from just outside his home.

Chris Ryan died despite a heroic rescue attempt.

We talked with family and friends - and the second man in - who was lucky to get out alive.

Into our second week of intense storms, West Virginia has now sadly joined eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio on the fatal flood list.

The scenarios are the same -- more rain in less time and swifter currents than ever seen before.

This time, a dad was trying to make sure his daughter got home safely. In the process, he was swept away.

Kelly Ryan says her husband Chris was clearing debris from the flood-swollen creek and road at their Thurmond Street home -- so a daughter on a play date could get home safely. But then she says the Sunday evening rain hit harder -- the water came up high and fast -- maybe 6 feet -- and Chris went in.

Kelly told us that Chris was able to get his face up and say he was OK – that his daughter was in there and so was he.

Kelly and her daughter made it out safely. Chris was still heading downstream.

Kelly says next-door neighbor Paul Bentley ran past 20 bystanders and jumped into the rushing water. He says he was trying to keep Chris from getting sucked into a culvert drain pipe.

"I grabbed his hand but he went under, and I went in the drain pipe," Paul Bentley said. "It took four to five guys to pull me out. I was in there ten minutes. It got me from here on my stomach on down; I wish there was more I could have done."

Searchers found Chris Ryan’s body more than a mile down stream -- on the other side of Danville in the Little Coal River.

Kelly Ryan says her husband was a good man a good dad; he would help anybody with anything.

Chris Ryan was a 41-year-old disabled coal miner. He leaves behind his wife Kelly of 17 years, as well as three daughters.

Bentley, the brave man who attempted the rescue, was treated and released with a number of injuries. He said he jumped in because he knew Chris Ryan would do the same for him."

WSAZ NewsChannel 3 Coverage of
Boone County, Wv., Flash Flooding
video
Video Courtesy of WSAZ-TV in Huntington, West Virginia

July 2010 has become a month of incredible regional extremes, from a continuing series of killer flash floods to blazing heat and drought.

The bottom line...this is a dangerous, repetitive pattern that must be respected ( updated 2 AM on July 27, 2010 ).


Updated - July 24, 2010 at Midnight
Why Mountain Heatwaves Are Rare
( Mountain Valleys vs. Lowlands )

Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Typical Mountain Valley Fog - AM of July 21, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Heat has historically been the silent but deadly killer, with folks in the mountains and lowlands alike needing to be more cautious on days which are "hot" relative to what is "normal" for them!

[ Although varying with National Weather Service coverage areas, a Heat Advisory is generally issued when the combination of temperature and humidity will make it feel like 100 to 115 degrees for up to 3 hours during the day, and/or there is expected to be at least 2 consecutive nights with minimum temperatures above 80 degrees.  An Excessive Heat Warning is issued for even more extreme conditions, posing a grave danger to all homeothermic organisms ]. 

One of the seemingly more simple but fascinating aspects of climatology, which has held my interest since a kid, is the way mountain valleys cool off at night throughout the year.

It is this cooling at night combined with the naturally lower temperatures occurring at higher elevations by day, which collectively make true heatwaves rare within the mountains.

[ Oh, it is a wave of HEAT for mountain residents since it is HOT compared to what they are used too and is often a sticky, miserable feeling type of heat in "jungle-like" locations with high humidity levels.

In comparison to lower elevations and to urban areas, however, it is not as severe ( and there is relief at night ) ].

Looking to South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Multi-layered Clouds - AM of July 21, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

[ While looking similar to photographs taken on July 14, the above scene captured by Roddy illustrates how common such multi-layered clouds are during summer in this landform, as air at various different levels cools to its dewpoint nearly every night ].

I have been officially observing weather conditions for the National Weather Service now for more than 21 years, and recording temps for most of the past 35 years.  In all that time I have never had a night remain above 70 degrees, and I do not even live in a higher mountain valley ( above 2000 feet ).


News Flash - No Longer True
Check out the section on July 2011 heat:


Example - Midnight on July 24, 2010
Local Temperatures ( degrees Fahrenheit )

City of Norton: 69 degrees
MECC in Big Stone Gap: 70 degrees
Clintwood 1 W: 71 degrees
L.F. Addington MS in Wise: 71 degrees
Lonesome Pine Airport in Wise: 72 degrees

In the High Knob highcountry, midnight temperatures in cooler basins, above 2400 feet elevation, were generally in middle to upper 60s     ( dewpoints were in the lower 60s on Eagle Knob to provide a source for cool air drainage into these higher mountain basins ).

In contrast to these already good temperature drops, readings across much of the region were still hot ( outside of the mountains ).

Regional Temperatues at Midnight
July 24, 2010

Virginia
Tazewell: 70 degrees
Lebanon: 73 degrees
Blacksburg: 77 degrees
Hillsville: 79 degrees
Roanoke: 80 degrees
Lynchburg: 81 degrees
Martinsville: 81 degrees
Danville: 82 degrees
Staunton: 82 degrees
Charlottesville: 84 degrees
Farmville: 86 degrees
Richmond: 86 degrees
Fredericksburg: 88 degrees
Stafford: 88 degrees
West Point: 88 degrees
Williamsburg: 88 degrees
Hanover: 89 degrees
Quantico: 89 degrees
Fort Belvoir: 90 degrees
Washington National: 91 degrees

Tennessee
Mountain City: 69 degrees
Tri-Cities: 77 degrees
Crossville: 77 degrees
Oak Ridge: 79 degrees
Knoxville: 81 degrees
Chattanooga: 83 degrees

Kentucky
Middlesboro: 73 degrees
London: 75 degrees
Hazard: 77 degrees
Jackson: 79 degrees
Lexington: 79 degrees

West Virginia
Elkins: 72 degrees
Beckley: 74 degrees
Bluefield: 77 degrees
Charleston: 77 degrees
Huntington: 79 degrees
Parkersburg: 81 degrees
Morgantown: 82 degrees

Locally cooler mountain locations are likely present in the above states, as exemplified by the many elevated basins in the High Knob Massif, to illustrate how cool air drainage can temper even the more intense periods of summer heat. 

[ Note that exposed middle elevation ridges, not subjected to cool air drainage or naturally cooler air in upper elevations, tend to occasionally have summer nights which can remain above 70 degrees ( but they rarely rise above 90 degrees by day ) ].


Thursday, July 1, 2010

June 2010: WET & Muggy In The HKL


Hay-Time In The High Knob Landform
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

June 2010 was a wet and muggy month across the High Knob Landform, with cutting hay made difficult by frequent showers and downpours in thunderstorms!

[ A wet and stormy May forced many hay farmers to wait into June to cut; however, a continued stormy pattern allowed for only limited dry stretches.  A total of 18 days of measurable rainfall was observed in the City of Norton, with 22 of the 30 June days having rain within South Fork Gorge of the High Knob Massif ].

June 2010 in the High Knob Landform
Cope's Gray Treefrog ( Hyla chrysoscelis )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend Gary Hampton, superintendent of the Big Stone Gap Water Plant, measured a rather impressive 9.53" of June rain at Big Cherry Dam,    in the High Knob highcountry, to push the rainfall total there to 16.52" since the beginning of May.

[ A general 15.00-20.00" of rain fell across Big Cherry Basin of the High Knob Massif during May-June, to keep South Fork of the Powell River overflowing the Dam's spillway every day!

However, do not go expecting to find alot of gushing whitewater on the South Fork, as near Cracker Neck it is essentially what one would call "bone dry" at the dawn of July.

This due to sinking of water into the subterranean within well developed karst systems.  The bottom line, being to never throw anything into Valley sinkholes if you want all this fresh, clean water that is sinking from the highcountry to keep its pure nature as it supplies your water table! ].


Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif
Monthly Precipitation Totals
Elevation: 3120 feet

2010
*January: 6.25"

*February: 4.25"

*March: 4.50"

April: 3.78"

May: 6.99"

June: 9.53"

2010 Total: 35.30" ( M )

7-Month Total: 46.80" ( M )

12-Month Total: 79.63" ( M )

( * ) - Denotes data loss during the harsh 2009-10 winter, when the NWS rain gauge froze and busted.

( M ) - Denotes that the actual total fall was greater than rain gauge amounts due to a combination of evaporation between hand-measurements and losses amid wind & sub-freezing conditions.

Secluded Mountain Cove - June 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A general 30.00" to 40.00" of total precip have accumulated during 2010 across wetter parts of the High Knob Massif, from upper Cove Creek Basin across Big Cherry Basin into the High Knob Lake Basin, Benges Basin, and Clear Creek Basin ( with 45.00" to 50.00" during the past 7-months, and more than 80.00" during the past year, across this upslope corridor ).

These above precipitation totals not including any of the significant secondary moisture contributions from fog drip and rime deposition on trees, within favored sections such as Big Cherry Basin ( a most important point, since these add greatly to the annual moisture budgets of both living and non-living entities ).

Powell Valley of HKL - June 8, 2010
Canada Goose ( Branta canadensis )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A flock of Canadian Geese decided a plowed Powell Valley field was a good place to stop and rest ( my friend Roddy Addington saying that they acted tired ), on a rare day free of rain ( only 2 days in the June 1-17 period did not have measurable rainfall in this area ).

The Beautiful Canada Goose - June 8, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

May & June wetness made up for a below average precip pattern during February-March, despite a bounty of snowfall.

Lifting Off From The Valley Floor - In Formation!
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Abundant June wetness, in specific, held temperatures down by day, relative to what they would have been over dry ground, with increased cloudiness, showers, and booming thunderstorms.

High Knob Massif Area
Highest June Temperatures 
Observed By Elevation
( Approximate Ranges )

> 90 degrees...below 1500 feet
85 to 90 degrees...1600 to 2600 feet
80 to 85 degrees...2700 to 3500 feet
75 to 80 degrees...above 3500 feet

No days during June officially reached 90 degrees within Norton, Wise, and Clintwood ( although the combination of heat and humidity made it feel hotter ).


June 2010 Climate Statistics

Majestic Lily - Powell Valley Overlook - June 21
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Max: 82.8 degrees
Average Min: 60.7 degrees
Mean: 71.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 89 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 51 degrees
Rainfall: 6.09"
2010 Precipitation: 25.00"

City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Max: 81.9 degrees
Average Min: 58.7 degrees
Mean: 70.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 88 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 50 degrees
Rainfall: 5.68"
2010 Precipitation: 29.05"

Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Max: 80.1 degrees
Average Min: 63.9 degrees
Mean: 72.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 87 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 55 degrees
Rainfall: 3.96"
2010 Precipitation: 24.02"

In the High Knob highcountry, June 2010 temp means varied from 70s by day to mid-upper 50s by night within the mountain basins ( above 2700 feet ).  Mean June temps being mostly in the 60s from the crestlines downward into basins lying above 2400 to 2700 feet in elevation.

Powell Valley Overlook - June 21, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Regional June Climate Statistics

Jackson, Ky., NWSFO - Elevation 1365 feet
Average Max: 84.3 degrees
Average Min: 66.4 degrees
Mean: 75.4 degrees
Highest Temperature: 90 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 59 degrees
Rainfall: 5.60"
2010 Precipitation: 25.94"

London, Kentucky - Elevation 1211 feet
Average Max: 86.9 degrees
Average Min: 66.4 degrees
Mean: 76.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 93 degrees
( 7 days at or above 90 degrees )
Lowest Temperature: 56 degrees
Rainfall: 3.85"
2010 Precipitation: 22.11"

Buckhorn Lake SP, Kentucky - Elevation 936 feet
Average Max: 88.2 degrees
Average Min: 65.1 degrees
Mean: 76.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 95 degrees
( 14 days at or above 90 degrees )
Lowest Temperature: 57 degrees
Rainfall: 3.86"
2010 Precipitation: 21.09"

Tri-Cities, Tennessee - Elevation 1525 feet
Average Max: 87.3 degrees
Average Min: 64.0 degrees
Mean: 75.7 degrees
Highest Temperature: 93 degrees
( 13 days at or above 90 degrees )
Lowest Temperature: 54 degrees
Rainfall: 2.96"
2010 Precipitation: 15.66"

Knoxville, Tennessee - Elevation 981 feet
Average Max: 90.4 degrees
Average Min: 69.4 degrees
Mean: 79.9 degrees
Highest Temperature: 96 degrees
( 20 days at or above 90 degrees )
Lowest Temperature: 59 degrees
Rainfall: 1.25"
2010 Precipitation: 19.85"

Richmond, Va., ( State Capitol ) - Elevation 167 feet
Average Max: 92.2 degrees
Average Min: 70.0 degrees
Mean: 81.1 degrees
Highest Temperature: 102 degrees
( 19 days at or above 90 degrees )
Lowest Temperature: 60 degrees
Rainfall: 0.82"
2010 Precipitation: 17.62"

The above June rainfall total for Richmond is no mistake, only 0.82" were measured during the month.

In fact, much of Virginia and adjoining portions of the Great Valley & Blue Ridge provinces are now abnormally dry and slipping into drought ( denoted by yellow on the Drought Moniter ).


2010
Precipitation Statistics
Virginia & District of Columbia

June 12, 2010
Swift Creek Reservoir - Near Richmond, VA
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

The following lists highlighting rainfall totals for June, May + June combined, and the 2010 precip total through the end of June.

Washington D.C. National Airport
June: 1.87"
May-June: 4.27"
2010: 13.60"

Dale Enterprise
June: 1.10"
May-June: 3.70"
2010: 13.98"

Boston 4 SE
June: 3.10"
May-June: 7.40"
2010: 14.70"

Edinburg
June: 2.77"
May-June: 5.23"
2010: 15.15"

Staunton Sewage Plant
June: 1.76"
May-June: 5.17"
2010: 16.14"

Luray 5 E
June: 2.90"
May-June: 6.18"
2010: 16.77"

Covington Filter Plant
June: 1.63"
May-June: 5.68"
2010: 16.79"
( 1 missing day in March )

Gathright Dam
June: 1.17"
May-June: 6.22"
2010: 16.88"

Richmond
June: 0.82"
May-June: 3.44"
2010: 17.62"

James River - July 3, 2010
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Wallops Island
June:  1.63"
May-June: 3.63"
2010: 17.89"

Charlottesville
June: 1.54"
May-June: 5.11"
2010: 17.91"

Washington D.C. Dulles Airport
June: 1.29"
May-June: 6.71"
2010: 18.00"

Blacksburg
June: 1.19"
May-June: 6.08"
2010: 18.10"

Buena Vista
June: 3.30"
May-June: 5.86"
2010: 18.13"

Abingdon 3 S
June: 3.64"
May-June: 6.79"
2010: 18.57"
( 3 missing days during year )

Mendota 1.6 SW
June: 3.99"
May-June: 7.23"
2010: 18.61"

Roanoke
June: 1.28"
May-June: 6.63"
2010: 18.62"

Williamsburg Airport
June: 1.10"
May-June: 4.82"
2010: 19.09"

Historic Williamsburg Virginia - Summer 2010
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Christiansburg
June: 2.63"
May-June: 7.77"
2010: 19.17"
( 1 missing day in March )

Wytheville 1 S
June: 3.90"
May-June: 6.63"
2010: 19.44"
( 1 missing day in May )

Danville
June: 2.20"
May-June: 6.22"
2010: 20.25"

Bland
June: 4.11"
May-June: 7.98"
2010: 20.34"
( 1 missing day in May / 1 in June )

Glasgow 1 SE
June: 0.88"
May-June: 3.87"
2010: 20.90"

Lebanon
June: 4.18"
May-June: 8.50"
2010: 21.11"

Saltville 1 N
June: 5.37"
May-June: 10.22"
2010: 21.68"
( 2 missing days March / 2 missing days June )

Richlands
June: 6.85"
May-June: 10.75"
2010: 22.20"

Holcomb Rock ( Bedford County )
June: 1.57"
May-June: 6.37"
2010: 22.53"
( 1 missing day in May )

Lynchburg
June: 3.13"
May-June: 7.69"
2010: 22.85"

Norfolk
June: 3.76"
May-June: 8.36"
2010: 23.39"

Meadows of Dan 4.5 SW
June: 2.64"
May-June: 7.92"
2010: 23.87"
( 1 day missing during May )

Nora 4 SSE
June: 3.96"
May-June: 12.67"
2010: 24.02"

Clintwood 1 W
June: 6.09"
May-June: 11.85"
2010: 25.00"

Grundy
June: 7.63"
May-June: 13.65"
2010: 25.22"

North Fork of Pound Dam
June: 6.88"
May-June: 12.86"
2010: 25.39"

Breaks Interstate Park
June: 6.39"
May-June: 11.59"
2010: 25.60"

Woolwine 4 S
June: 3.01"
May-June: 7.04"
2010: 26.11"
( 2 missing days in May )

Appalachia Lake Water Plant
June: 5.68"
May-June: 11.78"
2010: 26.12"

Big Stone Gap WP ( South Fork Gorge )
June: 6.12"
May-June: 12.25"
2010: 26.84"

Burkes Garden
June: 4.51"
May-June: 11.16"
2010: 27.07"

Robinson Knob of High Knob Massif
June: 5.09"
May-June: 10.61"
2010: 27.53" ( M )

Norton Water Plant
June: 5.68"
May-June: 14.28"
2010: 29.05"

Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif
June: 9.53"
May-June: 16.52"
2010: 35.30" ( M )

Powell Valley of High Knob Massif - June 21
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


2010
Precipitation Statistics
West Virginia Karst Belt & Mountains

White Sulphur Springs
June: 2.61"
May-June: 5.72"
2010: 16.52"

Union 3 SSE
June: 3.60"
May-June: 7.26"
2010: 16.75"

Elkins
June: 3.55"
May-June: 8.15"
2010: 16.77"

Alderson
June: 1.56"
May-June: 5.84"
2010: 16.79"

Lewisburg 3 N
June: 2.84"
May-June: 6.57"
2010: 18.50"

Glady 1 N
June: 3.74"
May-June: 8.15"
2010: 19.54"
( 3 days missing during February )

McRoss 3 E
June: 3.65"
May-June: 9.92"
2010: 24.31"

Marlinton
June: 1.92"
May-June: 11.47"
2010: 25.53"

Snowshoe Mountain
June: 5.32"
May-June: 14.21"
2010: 36.03"
( 4 missing days during year )


2010
Precipitation Statistics
Eastern Tennessee

Gray 1.5 E
June: 2.56"
May-June: 4.95"
2010: 15.00"
( 4 days missing during year )

Tri-Cities
June: 2.96"
May-June: 5.54"
2010: 15.66"

Jonesborough 3.7 N
June: 1.92"
May-June: 6.05"

Kingsport
June: 3.34"
May-June: 7.15"
( 1 missing day in June )

Kingsport 4.3 SW
June: 3.51"
May-June: 7.02"

Knoxville
June: 1.25"
May-June: 5.47"
2010: 19.85"

Chattanooga
June: 2.24"
May-June: 7.62"
2010: 23.37"

Crossville
June: 3.11"
May-June: 9.76"
2010: 25.99"

Monterey
June: 5.09"
May-June: 12.99"
2010: 31.09"
( 1 day missing during March )

Mount LeConte
June: 7.41"
May-June: 14.14"
2010: 35.37"
( 2 days missing February / 1 day missing April )

Little Stone Mountain Gap - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


2010
Precipitation Statistics
Western North Carolina

Banner Elk
June: 2.45"
May-June: 5.40"
2010: 23.71"
( 2 days missing during May )

Beech Mountain
June: 3.19"
May-June: 6.70"
2010: 25.18"

Grandfather Mountain:
June: 1.97"
May-June: 6.44"
2010: 35.17"

Mount Mitchell
June: 4.68"
May-June: 9.67"
2010: 36.21"


( Missing days denoted above may or may not have had any measurable precipitation ).


A Classic June Day In 2010

Rainbows Above The High Ridges - June 21
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner...
"The day had been the hottest of the summer season on Long Ridge ( 85 degree MAX ).  Just before sunset a storm with rain and high winds came from the northwest.  Note when a double rainbow occurs, the colors are reversed!"

The stormy pattern of May and June, with    its mean western component air flows, favored the west-northwest facing slopes and crestlines along and adjacent to the High Knob Landform and Tennessee Valley Divide.

This included some locations downstream, as storms would build up over them and drift to their lee ( e.g., a drift into the Castlewood to Hansonville section of Russell County of the Clinch River Basin was common in June ).

Sunset Opposite The Rainbows - June 21, 2010
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner...
"After taking a picture of the rainbows, I turned around to see the color of the setting sun."

Wow, what a beauty!


Historical Temperature Climatology For The Month
Of July

Summer 2010
Seadoo Surfin' - John Flannagan Lake
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A radical change in the weather pattern opened July 2010, with a cooler and much drier air mass invading the mountains from Canada.

Cliff Island - John Flannagan Lake
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Morning mins on July 2 dipped to 44 degrees in Norton, and as low as upper 30s to lower 40s amid the colder mountain basins from the High Knob Massif to Burkes Garden.  What a way to open July, with a true and sincere chill felt for hikers, campers, and residents of these higher elevations!

Such chilliness should really be no surprise as I have recorded frost every month of the year within the High Knob Massif area, with it also being well documented in the Burkes Garden Basin.

Bow Ahead - John Flannagan Lake
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Although summer frost would be a true rarity outside of these favored mid to upper elevation cold pockets, July is the only month of the year to not have a temperature drop below 40 degrees at the relatively well exposed location of the Wise weather station ( which for most of its record period was located upon a hill on the campus of The University of Virginia's College in Wise, where nocturnal temps tend to be milder than in surrounding valleys ruled by cold air drainage ).

Top Ten Coldest July Nights On Record
Wise 1 SE and Wise 3 E
Elevation: 2549 to 2560 feet
Record Period: 1955-2009

40 degrees...July 10, 1963
42 degrees.....July 5, 1963
42 degrees....July 11, 1963
43 degrees......July 9, 1961
43 degrees....July 15, 1967
43 degrees....July 27, 1962
44 degrees......July 6, 1964
44 degrees......July 7, 1972
44 degrees.....July 16, 1967
45 degrees.......July 4, 1961

In order to get a true feel for how cold it can get amid the favored cold air drainage basins of mid-upper elevations, its best to look at the long data period of Burkes Garden ( 114 years ).

Top Ten Coldest July Nights On Record
Burkes Garden Basin
Elevation: 3300 feet
Record Period: 1896-2009

31 degrees...July 16, 1926
34 degrees.....July 2, 1988
34 degrees....July 23, 1947
34 degrees....July 27, 1911
35 degrees....July 10, 1961
36 degrees......July 1, 1988
36 degrees......July 3, 1988
36 degrees......July 5, 1963
36 degrees......July 7, 1983
36 degrees....July 20, 1909

Temperatures have dipped below freezing every month of the year at some point amid the 114 year record period of Burkes Garden, to illustrate that the colder mountain basins can indeed have frost during any month ( sub-freezing temps having occurred at the Wise NWS station during every month but July & August ).


The HEAT of Summer
In The Mountains

Lined Up - John Flannagan Lake
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

With elevations as low as 1020 feet above sea level on the surface of Norris Lake in Tennessee, the southwest end of the High Knob Landfom can get truly hot ( especially when adding in humidity ).

But heat is relative, and when Wise officially cracks 90 degrees in summer its blazing!

Truly, for the official NWS station once went 13 years, from 1967-1979, without breaking 90 degrees at its elevation of 2549 feet above sea level.

Top Ten Hottest July Days On Record
Wise 1 SE and Wise 3 E
Elevation: 2549 to 2560 feet
Record Period: 1955-2009

93 degrees...July 15, 1995
93 degrees...July 16, 1988
92 degrees.....July 8, 1988
92 degrees...July 14, 1966
92 degrees...July 23, 1983
91 degrees.....July 9, 1988
91 degrees...July 17, 1988
91 degrees...July 31, 1999
90 degrees.....July 7, 1993
90 degrees...July 10, 1988

[ Note that the official National Weather Service Cooperative Station in Wise typically runs a little cooler by day than does the Lonesome Pine Airport ( LNP ) AWOS, which is the main source used by media outlets for current Wise conditions ].

The hottest temperature ever observed in the 55 year record period of Wise reached 94 degrees on August 18, 1988.  It is safe to say that upper elevations within the High Knob Massif, above 3000 feet, have not broken 90 degrees ( by official measuring standards ) during the past 55 years.

At 4179 feet above mean sea level on Eagle Knob of the High Knob Massif, it is relatively rare for summer maximums to rise above 80 degrees.

The highest temperature observed during the past decade reaching only 84 degrees.

[ The exposure of the Eagle Knob weather station being good such that shady northern slopes, amid adjacent upper elevations, tend to actually run cooler on many sunny days ].

Important aspects which act to hold summer maximums down being due to more than sheer elevation alone, with abundant cloudiness and the typically wet climate of the massif area working to suppress daytime temperatures.

[ This being exemplified by the highest max of 84 degrees on Eagle Knob, which by no coincidence occurred during the driest year on record in 2007 when "only" 40.00-50.00" of precipitation fell across the High Knob Massif ( 45.00-50.00" amid the wetter locations ).

While that was still above the annual mean for Virginia,    it was abnormally dry for the massif and was associated with less cloudiness and a notable reduction in the number of days with rainfall.  Very important, since the High Knob Massif tends to be the cloudiest area in Virginia ].

Going back further in time, before the mid 1950s, hotter conditions likely occurred during a single decade.  The 1930s, which hold 9 of the top 10 hottest July days on record during the past 114 years in Burkes Garden!

Top Ten Hottest July Days On Record
Burkes Garden Basin
Elevation: 3300 feet
Record Period: 1896-2009

97 degrees...July 28, 1930
96 degrees.....July 9, 1930
96 degrees...July 16, 1954
95 degrees...July 12, 1930
95 degrees...July 14, 1930
95 degrees...July 23, 1934
94 degrees.....July 7, 1930
94 degrees...July 21, 1934
94 degrees...July 25, 1938
94 degrees...July 26, 1930

The possible notable exception to the magnitude of heat within the High Knob Massif being due to the fact that it is much wetter than Burkes Garden, on average, such that some of the hotter days could have been tempered by more cloudiness and rain.

Example - Early July 2010
( Updated: July 6, 2010 )

A perfect example of the impact of dry ground can be obtained by looking at July 1-4, in which cooler and drier air invaded the region but its full impact was never really felt over the dry ground in the Great Valley of Tennessee.

July 1-4, 2010

City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Max: 77.2 degrees
Average Min: 47.0 degrees
Mean: 62.1 degrees

Tri-Cities, Tennessee - Elevation 1525 feet
Average Max: 87.5 degrees
Average Min: 58.5 degrees
Mean: 73.0 degrees

This observed difference between Norton and the Tri-Cities is huge during early July, with part of the difference certainly being forced by the dryness of the TRI ( 15.66" in 2010 verses 29.05" in Norton ).

[ Dry ground at the TRI ( Tri-Cities weather station ) limiting cloud formation by day and yielding little moisture for the sun to evaporate, allowing more solar energy to heat the ground and overlying air, with cold air drainage at night in low dewpoint air over the High Knob Massif providing for chilly nights in Norton ( the evening of July 4 being by far the warmest in Norton, with increased humidity and lingering clouds ) ].

A real-time example of differences generated by moisture and a lack of moisture, can be illustrated by afternoon hours of July 6 in which abundant cloudiness formed above the High Knob Massif relative to drier locations such as the Blacksburg-Radford area of southwestern Virginia and the    TRI area of northeastern Tennessee.

NASA Visible Satellite Image at 12:45 PM July 6, 2010

Note these locations on the following image series.

NASA Visible Satellite Image at 1:45 PM July 6, 2010

 NASA Visible Satellite Image at 2:15 PM July 6, 2010

NASA Visible Satellite Image at 2:45 PM July 6, 2010

NASA Visible Satellite Image at 3:02 PM July 6, 2010

NASA Visible Satellite Image at 3:15 PM July 6, 2010

[ Note persistent cumulus above the Big Cherry Basin and adjacent N-NW slopes of the High Knob Landform in Wise-Lee counties, verses the lack of cloud formation above the parched ground within the Blacksburg-Radford and TRI areas ].

The above series of images showing abundant cumulus forming below an inversion aloft, and over the regions which had enough moisture to generate clouds ( the inversion aloft preventing them from growing vertically into showers and storms ).

What this series does not show, is the impact such clouds have on surface temperatures and daily maximums!

[ At Clintwood 1 W the July 6 MAX reached 88 degrees.  At one point the temperature surged to 87 degrees, but subsequent cloud formation dropped it back to 81 degrees.  Such drops ultimately lower the MAX, with the eventual 88 degree maximum following a period of continuous sunshine after clouds broke ].

Early Summer Beauty - John Flannagan Lake
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Although Burkes Garden had some missing days during the 1930s, it appears that the decade was only somewhat drier than "normal" in this region with a decadal average of 40.45" per year in Burkes Garden ( -4.72" below their 85 year mean ).

[ While it is not known how many of their missing days had measurable precipitation, it is likely that the decadal average for the 1930s was greater than the raw 40.45" value listed for Burkes Garden ].

Pennington Gap in Lee County has the longest local data period in the High Knob Landform, with complete records starting in 1932.  The 1932-1939 precip mean was 49.65", or actually 0.44" above
their long-term accepted yearly average.

[ The High Knob Massif would have likely had much more precipitation, with 2009 ( for example ) having 54.68" in Burkes Garden ( no missing data ), 56.48" in Pennington Gap ( missing data during July and December ), and 81.34" at Big Cherry Dam ( missing data during the year ) ].

Either way, without any air conditioning in most locations it was likely plenty HOT for everyone ( as were the early 1950s ) and perhaps, just perhaps, even the summit level of the High Knob Massif cracked the rarefied 90 degree mark!

Night Comes To The High Ridges
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

I just love a glorious ending!