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 ].



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