Monday, January 3, 2011

Snowfall Event of December 11-15, 2010


December 12, 2010 ( AM )
High Knob Massif - 6" New Snow
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The second major snow event of Dec 2010 dropped a pure half a foot on top of the already snow covered High Knob Massif into morning hours of December 12.

[ Roddy Addington took a good measurement of this initial fall on Eagle Knob, with 6" of fresh snow on the road over top of packed ice & old snow ].

December 12, 2010 ( AM )
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif - 4.5" New Snow
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Down at the 3300 foot level in High Chaparral, my friends Joe & Darlene Fields measured 4.5" of new morning snow.

[ The above measurements being notable since only a mixture of rain and sleet were observed into morning hours of December 12 amid lower elevations of the Russell Fork Basin, in communities such as Pound and Clintwood, with temps just above freezing ].

High Knob Massif
Deep Snow On Northern Slopes - AM Dec 12
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

This 4"-6" of fresh, wet snow added to already significant depths across northern slopes of the massif, where plenty of old snow remained in the wake of the major December 4-8 storm episode.

High Knob Massif
In The Clouds - AM December 12, 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Roddy and Bill Harris reported an atypical number of snow plows working the highcountry roadways during morning hours of Dec 12, as mostly rain fell in lower elevations.

[ Joe Carter reported around 2" of slushy snow accumulation in the City of Norton when he arrived at the Norton Water Plant around 0600 hrs on December 12 ( elevation 2342 feet ), where he measured a water content of 0.49" .  Snow also accumulated along the Tennessee Valley Divide, with 3.6" being measured by Wayne & Genevie Riner at the 2650 foot elevation of Nora 4 SSE on Long Ridge ].

Jefferson National Forest
High Knob Lake Basin - December 12
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A break in the snowfall left low clouds hugging the highcountry into afternoon hours of Dec 12 in advance of an arctic cold front with upslope snow, bitter cold, and strong winds.

14" Depth - December 13, 2010
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Wicked conditions into morning hours of December 13 generated 5" to 7" of new snowfall, with Darlene Fields measuring 14" to 16" depths in High Chaparral during the day.

December 13, 2010
16" Snow Depth - High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

Morning air temperatures in single digits at the summit level of the High Knob Massif did not move during the day, as bitter cold, snow showers, and gusty winds generated severe conditions.

December 13, 2010
Snow Drifts On Long Ridge at Nora 4 SSE
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Conditions were illustrated well by Wayne Riner at his home on Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge, amid the highlands of southern Dickenson County, as strong winds swirled around a vehicle to create snow drifts during the night!

December 13, 2010
Wind Plastered Snow & Drifts - Long Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wind effects on blowing snow can be very interesting as not only does sculptured drifting occur, but plastering on windward sides of objects can be significant.

Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge
Snow Plastered On Windward Side - Dec 13
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Note how snow has been driven into the windward side of the bird house and pole in the above two photographs by Wayne.  Amazing!

December 13, 2010
The Winter Patio - Majestic Scene
 Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner notes...
"The patio which faces south looks different in the snow & blowing winds.  The rock wall is made from cut stone from my great grandfather's chimney.  The smaller containers held onion and lettuce for most of the year.  The large tank holds gold fish that now live under the ice and snow."

PM of December 13, 2010
Snow Continues - High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

An additional 3" to 5" of snow fell into morning hours of December 14 as temperatures plunged to 0 degrees at the summit level of the High Knob Massif ( not counting wind chills ).

Snowfall Totals for December 11-15
Clintwood 1 W: 9.8"
City of Norton Water Plant: 10.9"
Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge: 13.4"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 14.3"
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 18.5"

My friend Steve Blankenbecler of VA-KY Communications reported a snow depth of around 2 feet on Eagle Knob of the High Knob Massif, with 3 to 4 foot drifts, during the morning of Dec 14.

Some predawn clearing with dry air transport into mid-upper elevations allowed temperatures to plummet during morning hours of December 15, with sub-zero mins from the Norton Valley into the lofty, deeply snow covered basins of the massif.

[ A 13 degree temp spread was observed between Clintwood and Norton during the morning of Dec 15, with MINS of -3 below in Norton and 10 above in Clintwood ( beneath low clouds ) ].

Historic Fort In Lee County, VA
Wilderness Road State Park - December 15, 2010
  Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Harold Jerrell captured the majesty of this harsh winter period amid the always striking Wilderness Road State Park, located in western Lee County, Va., of the High Knob Landform.

Wilderness Road State Park
The Blacksmith Shop - December 15, 2010
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

The rugged northwestern mountain flank of the High Knob Landform ( locally named Cumberland & Stone Mountain ) looms high above the floor of these calcareous valleys at Wilderness Road State Park.

What a sight!

December 15, 2010
Wilderness Road State Park
Beautiful Snowbank Along Creek
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Although winter is not as harsh upon these valley floors of the Powell River Basin as it is amid the highcountry, it can get plenty bad during months like December 2010.

Wilderness Road State Park
Signs Of A Bad Winter - December 15, 2010
 Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Increasingly intricate detail is seen upon closer inspection as creek ice and a wavy snowbank are joined by hoar frost and sparkling crystals!

Wilderness Road State Park
Why Winter Is Beloved - Pure Majesty - Dec 15
 Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

The frisky nature of wind driven snow can be seen in the following photograph, as mini-lines and waves decorate this early winter snowpack.

December 15, 2010
Oaks & Cedars In Wilderness Road State Park 
 Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Such scenes make one imagine how harsh life must have been for early settlers trying to survive amid this mountain wilderness.

December 15, 2010
High Knob Landform
Pioneer Settlement - Wilderness Road State Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Many did not survive.

Rugged Cross at Wilderness Road SP
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

These cold, blue skies which created such a beautiful backdrop for Harold's photography in Wilderness Road State Park were short-lived as light to moderate snow developed once again into evening hours of December 15.

[ Strong warm air advection in the 800-750 mb layer on westerly winds won this battle and overcame a strong SW wind flow in the 900-850 mb zone to prevent the establishment of a    SW upslope flow snow event within the High Knob Landform ].

Lee County of the HKL
Buffalo In Winter Dress - December 15
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

A general 2" to 3" of new snow accumulated into predawn hours of December 16 before a transition to freezing rain.


Mini-Ice Storm
December 16, 2010

Lee County of HKL
Birdhouse In ICE - December 16, 2010
 Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

The next set of photographs by Harold would be of a mini-ice storm, as freezing rain coated everything into morning hours of December 16.

AM of December 16
Pine Needles Encased In ICE
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Ice accumulations of around 0.2" to 0.3" were rather common, with many interesting designs.

Crab Apples In ICE - December 16, 2010
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Pine Cone Encased In ICE - Intricate Designs
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Rhododendron Bud Enclosed In ICE
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

A harsh but gorgeous stretch of winter
in The High Knob Landform!

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