Monday, January 31, 2011

Majesty Of Mid-Winter 2011 In The HKL


January 23, 2011
High Knob Massif
Wind Swept Snow & Drifts Along Crestline
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform

Photographer Roddy Addington found a wind swept crestline and deep snow drifts as he returned to the crest zone of the High Knob Massif on January 23 to check out conditions.

Lines of deep snow drifts typically form along Forest Service 238 ( on right side of view ) and along either side of the High Knob Lookout Drive leading up to High Knob Meadow ( note deep snow around trees in upper left of scene ).

January 23, 2011
Jefferson National Forest
Snowy Northern Slopes of High Knob Lake Basin
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The most persistently deep snowpack was found amid lovely northern slopes of endemic Southern Appalachian Northern Hardwoods and High-Elevation Cove Forests, such as those spreading outward around lofty High Knob Lake Basin ( resting at the head of Mountain Fork of Big Stony Creek of the world renowned Clinch River ).

I have measured snow many times amid the woods seen in the far distance.  At the very bottom of this aging snowpack lies old snow lingering from one of the many December 2010 winter storms which buried the massif in 4.5 to 6 feet of total snowfall.

January 23, 2011
High Knob Massif
Wind Sculpturing Of Snow
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Sculptured by wind, and graced by nice light, snow around an old tree stump gives it a different character in winter as weed stems poke up through deep snow piled above.

January 23, 2011
Hanging Rock Recreation Area
Little Stony Creek Near The Clinch River
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Despite much less snow in lower elevations of the Clinch River Valley, the effects of this recent stretch of bitter weather can be seen upon the icy waters of boulder filled Little Stony Creek.


Winter Storm Finally Takes It Easy
On The High Knob Landform

While the January 26 winter storm deepened the snowpack in the High Knob highcountry, it had potential to be a crippling event with high density snowfall.  With many prayers and some luck, such was not the case this time!

Afternoon of January 26, 2011
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform finally caught a needed break from a potentially crippling winter storm, with a 2 to 3 hour delay in transition from rain to wet snow being the saving grace into morning hours of January 26.

Elevation 3300 feet
Old + New Snow on January 26, 2011 
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend Darlene Fields measured 2.5" of new snowfall in High Chaparral during the afternoon of January 26, which added to the several inches of older snow depth remaining at their southern exposed location.

This event pushing the 2010-11 winter snowfall tally to 86.1" at 3300 feet.  Well over 100" have now fallen upon the main crest zone of the massif, where main peaks reach up to 923 vertical feet higher than High Chaparral.

Elevation 4189 feet
Afternoon of January 26, 2011
DEEP Snow - Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
Image by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

Significantly more snow fell at the summit level of the High Knob Massif, with an increase in snow depths on Eagle Knob showing around 5.0" of new snowfall during morning hours of January 26 
( local amounts up to 6" were reported ).

Snow depths of 10" to 12"+ on Eagle Knob increase to even deeper snow depths across the northern slopes, such as those highlighted by Rod's photographs opening this section.

January 26, 2011
Wise Lake - Along The Tennessee Valley Divide
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Wise Lake is located just north of the High Knob Massif, along the Tennessee Valley Divide, at an elevation of a little over 2500 feet above sea level to the ESE of downtown Wise.

Snow depth differences are often obvious with elevation changes, such as observed between the Eagle Knob summit and Wise Lake in the above photographs, but some of the greatest variations during long, harsh winters can actually develop in the massif itself between northern and southern exposed slopes ( i.e., deep snowpacks on northern slopes ).

Beautiful Wise Lake - January 26, 2011
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Even at moderate to high elevations snow depth may frequently melt away from well exposed southern slopes and ridges while northern slopes retain snow for weeks to months at a time.

Wise Lake - January 23, 2011
Looking To The Southern Shoreline
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Lofty basins within the High Knob Massif are infamous for retaining snow as cold northern slopes develop snowpacks which are composed of ice crystals from many different storm events 
( this includes multiple riming episodes ).

The above being true of moderate to severe winters,
with only mild seasons having a relative lack of snow cover upon upper north slopes amid lofty basins such as those surrounding High Knob Lake, Big Cherry Lake, and the Norton Reservoirs.


Update: January 31, 2011
Northern Slope Snowpack
Deep Snow Across Upper Elevations

January 31, 2011
Heads of High Knob Lake & Big Cherry Lake Basins
Snowpack Across North Slopes of High Knob Massif
Image by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

Observe that the snowpack above was still widespread across
both northern and southern exposed slopes amid these upper elevations of the High Knob Massif.  Even from this far away 
large drift lines can be seen, as well as the snowy banks, along
State Route 619 ( High Knob Mountain Road ).

My friend Steve Blankenbecler submits this snowy image of deep snow still covering heads of the High Knob Lake and Big Cherry Lake basins during the final day of January 2011 ( this as snow has melted away from most lower-middle elevation sites across the region ).

The January 26 snowfall dropped a general 
2" to 3" upon the middle elevation zone around Norton-Wise and Sandy Ridge, with my cousin Nina Page reporting that it was just a furious transition from rain to big, wet snowflakes up to 
2" or more in diameter!

Thankfully, for the sake of keeping our electricity, this furious fall was shortened by a slower morning transition than expected ( as noted above ).  The quickest change occurring at highest elevations where a snow of somewhat lower density deposited 3" to 6" of accumulation ( generally above 3300 feet ).

My friend Wayne Riner offers a couple of photographs showing how conditions changed during the following day of January 27.

January 27, 2011 ( AM )
B.B. The Cow - Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"I walked in the new snow to the edge of where the summer garden of last year is located. Down below, "B.B." the cow walks toward the pond for a drink. She is curious to see what I am doing. Wet snow had covered the trees during the night."

January 27, 2011 ( PM )
Tennessee Valley Divide
The Bend In The Road - Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"It started as a rain, but the cold front came through with snow wrapping around the backside. The light snow covered the trees to make a white forest. The evening sun and blue skies made me stop and look. There were no sounds."

This next photographic beauty by Wayne nicely illustrates the vertical snow gradient that this storm possessed, with clearly more snow capping the highlands of the plateau terrain of southern Dickenson than the hollows!

January 27, 2011
In the highlands along the Tennessee Valley Divide
Looking Northeast Toward Wakenva Hollow
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.


Winter Beauty of ICY Waters
Feeding The Clinch River
( Supporting Life On Earth )

Little Stony Creek of High Knob Massif
Icy Majesty Forms Amid Flowing Water & Rocks
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Through the camera lens of my friend and photographer Roddy Addington it is easy to see why winter is a season of contrasting emotions, as harsh conditions can bring both suffering and absolute beauty unique to this time of year!

Little Stony Creek of Clinch River
Battle Rages Between Liquid & Solid
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Much like the battle between water & rock that carved great multi-gorge basins into the sprawling High Knob Massif, a battle rages in winter between gravity driven fluidity and conditions which require only static moments in time to transform this life sustaining liquid into a solid!

High Knob Massif
A Majesty That Is Ever Changing With Time
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

As whitewater tumbles from the High Knob highcountry to feed the mighty Clinch River, and its sister Powell River, an ever changing array of icy forms emerge and dissipate to create a majesty ever changing with time which is unique to this season called winter.

Resting Upon The Cusp
Contrasts In Light and Motion
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Resting upon the cusp between motion and stationary moments in time, clumps of ragged ice form in just the right position to illustrate this wintry battle whose beauty is revealed by an amazing contrast in light.

Miracles Do Happen - More Than Meets The Eye
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

An often hidden but vital part to such miraculous images rests upon water's special ability to exist in three different phases at the same time, with vapor being extraordinary on its own as a transitional player in these amazing transformations.

Precious Water ( Fluid- Vapor - Solid )
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Precious water in all three of its ever changing phases is vital to all living things upon, above, and beneath the surface of this planet, making water capturing, holding, and supplying wonders like the High Knob Massif and its adjoining Landform absolutely critical to life on Earth!

Remnant High Country Mass of The High Knob Landform
High Knob Massif - Water Capturing Wonder In The Sky
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


The ability of this landform to capture, store, and give forth this most precious of entities is a major reason for its designation as an epi-center for the rarity & richness of limited range species within the continental United States ( and North America ).

Fig 6.9 On Page 173 In:
Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States

Speaking of which, snow associated with this latest fast moving clipper system was enhanced along windward facing slopes and crests of the High Knob Massif into morning hours of January 28 with a general 2" to 3" of new snow depth measured from the City of Norton to Eagle Knob and High Chaparral.

This left behind snow depths of 1 to 2 feet ( old snow + new ) across highest crestlines and upper north slopes of the massif.
It will be interesting to see how this diminishes amid a late January THAW which ends the month during January 29-31.

By contrast, snowfall was much lighter amid the lowlands of the Powell River Valley with my friend Harold Jerrell reporting around 0.5" at his home in Lee County.

Snow was also light amid deep hollows of the adjoining Russell Fork Basin, where Wayne Riner captured it decorating Beaver ( Castor canadensis ) lodges during the morning.

Russell Fork Basin
January 28, 2011 ( AM )
Beavers Sleep Under New Snow
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"Let's stop long enough to look at the work of the industrious beaver. Their ponds provide a home for fish and waterfowl. Once trapped out of the area, they have returned in great numbers throughout southwestern Virginia."  



January 2011
More Than Just Snow & Ice
( In The Cumberland Overthrust Block )

January 20, 2011
Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge
Blue Winter Morning Upon The Divide
 Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The January morning started out with a color show. My thoughts went to the black locust tree outlined against the horizon. During the spring it had provided long grape like clusters of white flowers full of nectar for the bees. In the summer months the bluebirds sat on the branches and looked to the ground for insects to feed their young."

The High Knob Massif & Wave Clouds
Last Light From Long Ridge - January 22, 2011
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"Last light on a late January day shows a touch of color. On the horizon just to the left of center is the High Knob ( Eagle Knob peak ) with its towers."

January 25, 2011
Along the Tennessee Valley Divide
Beautiful Light As Seen From Coeburn Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Looking from above the town of Coeburn, the large swell of the Clinch Mountain crestline is seen in the distance stretching across the horizon.

Observe the beautiful array of orographic wave clouds above,
as a deep SW air flow was pointed from the High Knob Landform toward the lofty peak of Beartown Mountain ( Russell Beartown ) in the distance.


Sunrise Series Above Pineville, Kentucky
( January 30, 2011 )

In The Cumberland Overthrust Block
Looking from Pine Mountain to NW Flank of HKL
and the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Sunrise Photograph 1
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Sunrise Photograph 2
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Sunrise Photograph 3
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Sunrise Photograph 4
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Unique Perspective of the
Iron Furnace In The Old Cumberland Gap
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


Thanks to Roddy & Wayne
for such perspectives!


Climate Statistics 
For January 2011

( Lower Elevations of Russell Fork Basin )
Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 38.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 18.5 degrees
MEAN: 28.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 61 degrees
Lowest Temperature: -2 degrees
Total Precipitation: 2.32"
Total Snowfall: 21.4"

( Northern Base of High Knob Massif )
City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Daily MAX: 35.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 15.9 degrees
MEAN: 25.4 degrees
Highest Temperature: 57 degrees
Lowest Temperature: -4 degrees
Total Precipitation: 2.99"
Total Snowfall: 23" to 30"

( Along the Tennessee Valley Divide )
Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 34.3 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 20.1 degrees
MEAN: 27.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 58 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 1 degree
Total Precipitation: 2.13"
Total Snowfall: 19.8"

In the High Knob high country, January 2011 temp means varied from upper 20s to lower 30s by day to bitter 10s at night within upper elevations 
( this generated monthly MEANS of 20 to 25 degrees above 2700 feet, over a persistent snowpack that enhanced cooling ).

January precipitation totals varied from 3.50" to 4.00"+ across the High Knob high country, with my friends Otis & Nancy Ward measuring 3.41" in Robinson Knob ( with loss in deeper snowfalls on their 4"-diameter NWS rain gage measured 5 times during the month ).

For the second consecutive month, amid this cold winter,
most of the precipitation fell in the form of snow.

January 30, 2011
In The Cumberland Overthrust Block
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Gary Hampton, Superintendent of Big Stone Gap Water Plant in South Fork Gorge, measured 3.69" at Big Cherry Dam during the January 4-31 period.  That boosted the NWS gauge total to 4.51" for the month ( when adding approximately 0.82" of rain that fell at the Dam during January 1-2 ).

The 4.51" January total for Big Cherry Dam being less than what actually fell since there were significant rain gage losses in deep falls of snow during January 7-8 and January 12-13.

The significance of orographic enhancement of winter precipitation in the High Knob high country can be seen by looking at January totals from the Clinch River Valley and adjacent portions of the area ( despite losses at Big Cherry Dam & Robinson Knob ).

January 2011 Precipitation Totals
*( western-central Virginia & northeast Tennessee )

Kerrs Creek 6 WNW: 0.43"

Covington Filter Plant: 0.64"

Galax WTP: 0.65"

Gathright Dam: 0.68"

Lexington: 0.69"

Roanoke: 0.82"

Millgap 2 NNW: 0.83"

Blacksburg: 0.84"

Meadows of Dan 5 SW: 0.92"

Woolwine: 1.00"

Holcomb Rock: 1.01"

Luray 5 E: 1.16"

Lebanon: 1.20"

Copper Hill: 1.21"

Martinsville Filter Plant: 1.22"

Wytheville 1 S: 1.33"

Trout Dale 3 SSE: 1.38"

Richlands: 1.47"

Grundy: 1.56"

Kingsport: 1.69"

Bland: 1.73"

Abingdon 3 S: 1.80"

Burkes Garden: 1.82"

Tri-Cities Airport: 1.88"

Bluefield: 1.97"

Saltville 1 N: 2.08"

Marion 4.4 WSW: 2.16"

January 2011 precipitation totals were well below average across the entire region, including within the High Knob Massif, despite near to above average snowfall.

*It is important to note that most all of the above locations lacked deep falls of snow, and measure precipitation daily, such that rain gage losses should have been at a minimum compared to that occurring at Big Cherry Dam ( with its 4"-diameter NWS gage which was measured twice on January 3 and January 31 ).

The true differences are greater than
suggested by the raw numbers.



Updated
State Of The 2010-11 Winter
( As of February 3, 2011 )

High Knob Massif - February 15, 2010
Snow Depth Before A Foot Of New Snow
During the Snowy 2009-10 Winter Season
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


Roddy took this photograph just before a new FOOT of snow fell upon the High Knob Massif at the middle of February last winter.

So just where does this winter stand?

Although this winter has eased currently, with solid snow cover restricted only to highest elevations in the High Knob Massif, total snowfall up to this point is running some 12% to 18% ahead of this day ( Feb 3 ) in the snowy 2009-10 winter.

Reference this section of my website
to get a feeling for the 2009-10 winter season:



Snowfall Totals By Month
2010-11 Winter Season

High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
( Elevation 3300 feet )

2010
November: 4.5"
December: 55.0"

2011
January: 29.2"

2010-11 Season Total: 88.7"

14-Month Snowfall Total: 212.0"
( December 2009-January 2011 )

Snowfall measurements by the Fields Family started in High Chaparral during the 1992-93 winter season, just in time to measure 46" amid the March 1993 Blizzard.

My friends Joe & Darlene Fields had just measured 72.5" of snowfall by this point in last winter, or 18% less than current ( as of February 3 ).

This continues a snowy period with 212.0" 
being hand-measured since the beginning of December 2009, during only 7 months with measurable snowfall in that 14 month interval
( an average of 30.3" per month that had snow ).

That has to be among the most snow ever measured in any community in the state of Virginia, but is certainly not the most snow to fall upon the Old Dominion ( as noted below ).


Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
( Elevation 4189 feet )

2010
November: 6.0"
December: 67.0"

2011
January: 39.0"

2010-11 Season Total: 112.0"

*14-Month Snowfall Total: 276.0"
( December 2009-January 2011 )

*Indicates approximate snowfall totals for the Eagle Knob summit based upon daily snow marker depths and frequent reports ( due to strong winds true amounts are likely greater, with the above being best and mostly conservative estimates of what falls there ).

The general 250-300" of snowfall in the main crest zone of the High Knob Massif since Dec 2009 has produced an average of approximately 39.0" of snowfall per month for each month having snow on Eagle Knob during this 14-month period.

Research indicates that the main crest zone of the massif gets more snowfall than High Chaparral not only due to higher mean elevations, but also due to better lift and air flow funneling by numerous deep gorges and steep mountain flanks that are part of a notable SW-NE trend of higher relief associated with a duplex-imbricate geological structure.

The High Chaparral and Robinson Knob communities sit literally on the very edge of the main crest zone of the massif at the interface between the duplex-imbricate system and single tectonic ramping zone of the massif.

For specific details reference 
this portion of my website:


It is interesting to note that the current season is running around 6% behind the pace of the 1995-96 winter, the snowiest since record keeping began within the massif in the late 1980s.


A COLD 2010-11 Winter
December-January Temp Means

Temperatures so far this winter have been colder than average with increasingly BRRR...conditions generally being observed as elevation increases ( as noted below by temperature statistics for specific points ).

Notable and always important exceptions being felt amid higher valleys by night where cold air drainage is a factor, and above the persistent snowpack of mid-upper elevations within the High Knob Massif.

While mostly snow covered throughout December & January, the upper north slopes in particular had 1" or more of depth during both months ( with a foot or more of snowpack during much of this 62-day period on upper north, northeast, and northwest facing slopes of the massif ).

Note average nightly MINS in the Norton Valley are often impacted by cold air flowing downward out of the High Knob highcountry, such that nights are colder than in both Clintwood and at the higher elevation of Long Ridge ( a thermal belt site ).

Daily maximums in the City of Norton, by contrast, follow the general trend of decreases with increasing elevation and fit neatly in between those observed in Clintwood and Long Ridge.


December 2010 + January 2011
Temperature Means For Specific Points

( Lower Elevations of Russell Fork Basin )
Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 35.4 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 18.8 degrees
MEAN: 27.1 degrees

( Northern Base of High Knob Massif )
City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Daily MAX: 33.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 15.5 degrees
MEAN: 24.2 degrees

( Along the Tennessee Valley Divide )
Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 31.8 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 18.7 degrees
MEAN: 25.2 degrees

In the High Knob high country temp means during December-January have generally varied from 20s to lower 30s by day to the low-mid 10s 
at night.

Variations have no doubt included milder conditions on steep slopes with southern exposures and colder mean temps on slopes having northern tilts, with a particular tendency for coldness amid the numerous, lofty cold air drainage basins in the massif which have been buried by deep snow.

It truly is a different world up there!


Reference this section of my website for an 
example of these differences during spring transition:
  
Reference this section of my website for an 
examples of these differences during autumn transitions:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 2011 Begins With A GUSH


January 2, 2011
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Gushing Whitewater Draining Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform

A gush of gorgeous whitewater drained lofty 
Big Cherry Basin of the High Knob Massif via rainfall and ALOT of snow melt as the new year 
got started at the dawn of January 2011.

Rugged South Fork Gorge
Majesty of South Fork of the Powell River
video
Bill Harris Video - © All Rights Reserved.

[ Don't you just LOVE this sound! ].

Photographers Bill Harris & Roddy Addington 
were there to capture this awesome beauty as whitewater tumbled down through the jagged, boulder filled chasm that is extremely rugged 
South Fork Gorge of the High Knob Massif.

A tinge of yellow indicates some sediment transport, but
even in a mostly pristine watershed that tends to happen
when a gushing creek plunges 1433 vertical feet in 4 miles downstream of Big Cherry Dam ( an American Whitewater
Class V+ steep creek ).

January 9, 2011
Hanging Rock Recreation Area
Little Stony Creek of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Rod Addington Photography

Some 15 air miles east of the South Fork, on the Scott County side of the massif, plenty of water was also gushing out of Little Stony Gorge by beautiful Hanging Rock Recreation Area on January 9   ( despite another winter storm and bitter temps ).

High Knob Massif - January 9, 2010
Beautiful Water Of The Little Stony
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

As the snowpack builds once again in the High Knob highcountry, and across all elevations, whitewater is certain to gush much bigger on a future date to continue a 26 consecutive month stretch of general wetness ( broken only by relative September & October dryness in 2010 ).

Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif
Monthly Precipitation Totals
Observers: Gary Hampton & Staff
Elevation: 3120 feet

2008
November:  4.36"
December: 8.49"

2009
January: 9.23"
February: 4.36"
March: 5.51"
April: 5.40"
May: 7.07"
June: 5.44"
July: 8.42"
August: 7.08"
September: 9.09"
October: 4.36"
November: 3.88"
*December: 11.50"

2010
*January: 6.25"
*February: 4.25"
*March: 4.50"
April: 3.78"
May: 6.99"
June: 9.53"
July: 4.27"
August: 8.91"
September: 2.88"
October: 2.84"
November: 4.05"
*December: 7.35"

12-Month Total: 65.60" ( M )

26-Month Total: 159.79" ( M )

26-Month Mean Monthly Precipitation: 6.15"

Mean Precipitation Per 12-Months: 73.80" ( M )  

( * ) - Indicates that total was estimated or partly estimated due to severe winter conditions.

( M ) - Denotes that total precipitation was greater than rain gauge total due to evaporation between hand-measurements ( the mean evaporative loss is estimated to have been 3.00" to 3.50" per year as partly based upon observed losses at Clintwood 1 W ).

[ All measurements courtesy of Superintendent Gary Hampton & Staff at the Big Stone Gap Water Plant in South Fork Gorge ].

The above precipitation totals do not take into account any wind induced rain gage undercatches, with the most recent December 2010 total being partly estimated based only upon physical gauge loss ( i.e., much more snow fell than the gage could hold ).

NOTE:  This website has viewers from Europe and many other countries where rain "gauge" is often used instead of rain "gage."
I will use both spelling forms on The High Knob Landform, with "gage" being merely a variant for "gauge". 


Winter Storm of January 7-8, 2011

January 9, 2010
High Knob Massif ( low elevations )
Hanging Rock Recreation Area
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The winter storm of January 7-8 dropped more significant snowfall upon the Wise, Scott, Lee county triad of the High Knob Landform and adjoining sections.

This event featured a WHITEOUT along an Arctic Cold Front followed by bands of intense snow squalls into morning hours of January 8.  Predawn clearing into the morning of January 9 generated sub-zero MINS, with 0 to -5 below readings common.

Lee County of the High Knob Landform
Wilderness Road State Park - January 7, 2011
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend Harold Jerrell once again captured the beauty of snow falling as it might appeared 200 years ago upon wilderness homesteads of the Powell River Valley.

January 7, 2011
Wilderness Road State Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Winter Storm Blankets The Wilderness Road
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

January 7, 2011
The Fort - Wilderness Road State Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

A mixture of cedars and deciduous trees spreading outward from the meandering banks of the majestic Powell adds to the surreal beauty of this landscape, still so evident today!


Storm Snowfall Totals
for January 7-8, 2011

Nora 4 SSE: 5.9"
Clintwood 1 W: 8.7"
City of Norton WP: 10.0"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 11.6"
*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 12.5"

*Variable ground depths with solid, old snow still remaining across upper north slopes of High Knob Lake Basin, Big Cherry Basin, Benges Basin, Clear Creek Basin, Lost Creek Basin
and other sections prior to the January 7-8 episode.

January 9, 2011
Hanging Rock Recreation Area of High Knob Massif
In The Wake Of A Bitter Morning
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The character of these first days of January 2011 were just full of variety, as so well highlighted and described by my friend Wayne Riner in the rugged highlands of southern Dickenson County.

January 5, 2011
Glorious Dawn - Before The Storm
 Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Three Bluebirds ( Sialia sialis ) watch a glorious dawn illuminate an array of wave clouds before the next winter storm spreads more snow across the highlands of the southern Appalachians.

January 8, 2011
Tennessee Valley Divide
Living On The High Ridges - Long Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"Waiting to be fed, Princess's calf called Baby Princess by the owners has weathered the morning snow and high wind.  The deep hollow is Wakenva, about a 600 foot drop just back of the cow.  A gas well road is in the next ridge over."

Snow Starts Again - January 8, 2011
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"While being outside during a brief period of sun, another wave of snow starts again.  Time to go in."

January 8, 2011
Winter Road To The Orchard
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"For a few minutes the snow and high winds stopped and revealed the snow drifts along the orchard road."

January 8, 2011
South Patio After The Storm
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The sun came out just enough to take a picture of the results of this first wave of ( January ) snow."


Winter Storm of January 10-13, 2011

 NASA Infrared Satellite at 11:31 PM
Lake Michigan Moisture ( Snow ) Plume

I simply love nights when all the weather people covering southwestern Virginia say "its winding down or ending" as snow falls furiously outside and the reality is very different from what is being predicted to occur!

It really should not be this way, amid this modern age, as the NASA IR Image above clearly shows for all the world to see a distinct and most important connection from Lake Michigan into southwestern Virginia ( a visible plume of moisture that was cranking out a fury of dendritic crystals in bitter air to show how "Lake Effect" impacts the High Knob Landform & Tennessee Valley Divide ).

Also distinct is the visible shadowing lee of the High Knob Landform, as the colorized clouds indicative of colder, taller tops vanish in an arch to its lee with sinking air into the Clinch, Holston, and collective Great Valley of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee ( clouds appear again as air is lifted once more to drop snow at higher elevations along the Tennessee-North Carolina border ).

For those sharp, they might catch on that under the "right" flow direction a strip of clouds and potential precipitable moisture can squeak by the eastern end of the High Knob Massif from the Wise Plateau and cross it in the Flatwoods-Guest River Gorge section to reach the Clinch River Valley and points to the southeast toward Bristol, Virginia.

Impacts of the above are most dramatic from the High Knob Massif northward, and along the spines of Black & Pine mountains, where air with the richest moisture is initially lifted ( and with good moisture it extends into the backbone of Clinch Mountain and to the windward side of the Mount Rogers-Whitetop Massif ).

The continuous fall of moderate to heavy snow amid plumes with well defined Great Lake connections, as this case is a classic example, is therefore unique to this portion of Virginia where nearly all of the remainder of the state lies leeward of the West Virginia highlands ( which extract moisture from plumes, reducing their vigor in all but unique settings ).

This being the most important point from a prediction or forecast perspective, as the heavy snow in this most impacted portion of southwest Virginia extends from the deepest hollows to the summits and is not just relegated to the higher, windward facing slopes as most forecasters only recognize ( i.e., this tends to be widespread in nature and not just concentrated into narrow bands such as observed with snowstreaks or training squalls ).

From a climatological or long-term perspective, this is one of the most important aspects making the High Knob Massif and locales to its NW-N the snowiest in all of Virginia for their respective elevations ( i.e., atypically high average annual snowfall at low-moderate elevations of less than 4300 feet ).

Over the long-term only higher elevations within the Mount Rogers-Whitetop area, which also do not lie leeward of West Virginia, could be snowier than the High Knob Massif in Virginia ( any given location in the state can be the snowiest place during a particular event ).

The High Knob Massif does appear to contain the wettest locations in all of Virginia, as previous assumptions that Mount Rogers is the wettest due to it being the highest summit in the state are flawed given that long-term annual wetness is influenced by much more than just elevation ( while more study is needed, ALL data available points to this being true ).


Storm Snowfall Totals
for January 10-13, 2011

Nora 4 SSE: 7.7"
Clintwood 1 W: 8.5"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 9.6"
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 13.7"

Snow depths during the morning of January 13 varied from 10" to 12" at the Norton Water Plant, on northern slopes at the base of the High Knob Massif, to around 21" at a snow marker on Eagle Knob ( with more than 2 feet on upper north slopes where some old snow lingers from December / not including drifts ). 

Clintwood 1 W gained 4.5" of new snow from sunset January 12 to sunrise on January 13, amid the Great Lake plume, to generate 6" to 10" depths at its 1560 foot elevation ( low mountain hollow ).

Major settlement occurred on the snowpack during the January 14-15 period, with some well exposed locations having a 6-10"+ drop in total depth ( via the low density, fluffy nature of this latest fall ).  By contrast, snow remained significantly deeper ( as it typically does ) on shady, northern exposed slopes.

January 14, 2011
Tennessee Valley Divide
The Snowy Garden - Long Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The sun came out this week to find our garden place covered with snow. The aparagus, now brown, was salvaged from wild plants discovered along the road. Covered by snow is a hand cut sandstone rock. I have enjoyed sitting there watching the garden grow and being close to bluebirds feeding their young."
  

Seasonal Snowfall Tallies
( November 1, 2010 to January 13, 2011 )

Clintwood 1 W: 53.2" at 1560 feet
Nora 4 SSE on Long Ridge: 61.5" at 2650 feet
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 80.8" at 3300 feet
*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 99.5" at 4178 feet

*Only approximate total as greater and lesser amounts have likely occurred within the main crest zone of the massif between Bowman Mountain, Camp Rock, and Thunderstruck Knob where 15 peaks ( locally called knobs ) reach 3600 feet or higher in elevation above mean sea level.

A general 80" to 100" of snow have now fell this season across upper elevations ( above 3200 feet ) in the High Knob Massif, as 2010-11 gets off to a fast start in the southern Appalachians.


Comparison With 2009-10 Season
( October 17, 2009 to January 12, 2010 )

Clintwood 1 W: 37.8" at 1560 feet
Nora 4 SSE on Long Ridge: 43.7" at 2650 feet
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 59.0" at 3300 feet
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 81.0" at 4178 feet 

Compared with this point in last winter a general 60" to 80" of snow had accumulated across upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, with around 40" in lower-middle elevations to its north.

The 2009-10 winter season was characterized by a prolonged, deep snowpack in the High Knob highcountry with a notable lack of harsh coldness ( i.e., sub-zero temps ) despite all the snow.  

The big-ticket storm of last winter, of course, was the December 18-19, 2009 Mega-Disaster event which crippled the area for weeks courtesy of a Miller A Storm packing high density snowfall from the Gulf of Mexico.

The 2009-10 winter generated a significant amount of NW Flow snowfall but, compared to this point in time, not as much as the current winter ( the major difference between the two seasons to date ).  Nearly every system during the 2010-11 season has so far found a way to generate intervals of Great Lake enhanced NW flow snowfall into the southern Appalachians.  A very notable trend, as some winters may pass with very few Great Lake connected flows into the southern Appalachians which do not benefit from such flows as often as central portions of the mountain chain.

The high occurrence of NW-N flow snows so far during this winter season has held the official National Weather Service Cooperative Station near TRI ( Tri-City Airport ) to just 13.1", with even less reported at the NWS Coop in Kingsport, Tn., up through January 13, as such air flows must first pass across the High Knob Landform ( HKL ).

While much above average for this point in a winter season, these TRI snowfall totals would be much greater if large amounts of moisture were not first being extracted from air flowing across the wide High Knob Massif and Tennessee Valley Divide.

Note in almost all historic cases, and events this winter, greater snow amounts occur in Kingsport and at TRI when air flows do NOT have to first pass across the High Knob Massif.

An incredible NW to SE gradient in snowfall develops between the High Knob Massif and Kingsport-TRI, with 67" to 96" ( 5.6 to 8 FEET ) more so far this winter amid these higher elevations located a mere 23 to 36 air miles to the NW-N of Kingsport-TRI.

A truly dramatic and classic example of snow shadowing which was never fully recognized prior to my climatic research.

Square Pants Survives Another Storm!
  Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

That is one TOUGH little DUDE!    


Special Feature:
Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
Pine Mountain of the Cumberland Overthrust Block

January 15, 2011
Pine Mountain - Letcher County, Ky
Icy Wonder of Bad Branch Waterfall
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Just northwest of the High Knob Landform is a rugged, pristine section of Pine Mountain that is a favorite local destination during all seasons of the year ( along the Pine Mountain Anticline ).


January 15, 2011
Isaiah Addington Capturing The Wonders
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Part of the extensive system of natural areas of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission & The Nature Conservancy, Bad Branch Waterfall is only one of the gems found amid this rugged section of Pine Mountain.


Recall The Cumberland Overthrust Block 
consists of these major geological features:

1 ).  The Powell Valley Anticline 
of the High Knob Landform

2 ).  The Middlesboro Syncline

3 ).  The Pine Mountain Anticline

The Powell Valley Anticline is the structural framework of the great High Knob Landform, the most dominant feature of the 3125 square mile Cumberland Block.

Bad Branch SNP - January 15, 2011
Flowing Water & Frozen Water
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Winter is a special time to visit any of our many waterfalls, as all forms and phases of water are typically on wondrous display!

January 15, 2011
Rugged Sandstone Cliffs In Bad Branch SNP
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Pristine blue skies made the perfect backdrop for these rugged sandstone cliffs, decorated by a myriad of LONG icicles!

January 15, 2011
Colorful ICE Display of Bad Branch Falls
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The morning did not begin so clear, but beauty was not diminished as all sorts of colors were created by the magical interplay between light, rock, and water frozen in time!

January 15, 2011
Bad Branch Gorge In Winter
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

More than 30 species of plants & animals rare to Kentucky are found amid this rugged mountain landscape of boulder filled gorges, as the climate changes more distinctly here with W & NW air flowing across the foothills getting its first big lift upward into the Cumberland Overthrust Block.

Bad Branch SNP is also near the northeastern end of an extended corridor which acts to generate maximum downsloping on SE winds as air flows across the High Knob Massif, northeast end of the Black Mountains, and this portion of Pine Mountain.

Locations to the northwest of these mountains often record anomalously low precipitation amounts during individual storm events, and more rarely during months or even years, when SE air flows dominate ( the greatest SE flow precip amounts, by contrast, occur along windward sides of the sprawling High Knob Massif ). 

January 15, 2011
Letcher County, Kentucky
Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
ICE Cave - Winter Product of Ice & Rock
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Roddy captured a winter product of ice and rock that looked like an ice cave, at least a Mini-Me version!

January 15, 2011
Remote Majesty of Bad Branch of the Cumberland
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Bad Branch is literally at the very head of the extensive 688 mile long Cumberland River system, and has been designated a Kentucky Wild River of the Bluegrass State.

January 15, 2011
Letcher County, Kentucky
Pristine Water of Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Pristine water of Bad Branch is matched in Kentucky only by a few other creeks, such as those tumbling out of the rugged northwestern arm of the High Knob Landform ( geological Powell Valley Anticline ) in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park ( the Cumberland & Stone mountain arm of the HKL often being called a geological mirror image of Pine Mountain, or visa versa, by geologists ).

Beautiful Mix of Water Phases & Light - Bad Branch
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Unique settings complete with all forms of water phases and light were captured by Roddy along the rocky course of Bad Branch.

January 15, 2011
Ice Crystals Over Rippling Water - Bad Branch SNP
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


January 15, 2011
Ice Formations Along Bad Branch of the Cumberland
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Bad Branch SNP is only a short distance from gorgeous North Fork of Pound Lake, in northern Wise County, Va., at the head of the Russell Fork Basin of the Ohio River. 

January 15, 2011
Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
Isaiah Addington Making Memories
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

There is nothing like having a good buddy on a long hike, with a father & son combo being the best!  Isaiah is making memories that will last a life time in the wild lands with dear Ole Dad.

January 15, 2011
Sponge Bob Rides Again - Bad Branch SNP
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Its always great to have an extra friend too!