Sunday, October 9, 2011

Colors Of Autumn 2011 - Shock & AWE


Morning of October 9, 2011
Glorious Sunrise Colors Above The Highlands
Photograph by Genevie Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

From Glorious Heavens...

Colors Of Sunrise - October 9, 2011
Photograph by Genevie Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

To Changing Leaves...

October 1, 2011
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Autumn 2011 - Pastel Painting By Mother Nature
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Of A Mountain Forest...

October 9, 2011
Along The Tennessee Valley Divide
Multi-Colored Beauty Of A Mixed Mountain Forest
Photograph by Genevie Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

The Ancient Appalachians...

October 7, 2011
Northwestern Flank of High Knob Landform
White Rocks of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Are A Landscape Of Colors.

October 7, 2011
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Sunrise From The Pinnacle Overlook
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.


Welcome To Autumn 2011...

October 12, 2011
Bark Camp Lake of High Knob Massif
AWESOME Autumn Reflections of Color Peak 2011
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

In The High Knob Landform!


October 12, 2011
Bark Camp Lake Water Reflections
Color Peaks - Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

From Bark Camp Lake Basin...

Elevation 2734 feet - October 12, 2011
Magnificent Colorations of Bark Camp Lake
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Up Into Clouds Of The...

Elevation 4070 feet - October 12, 2011
Colors In The Clouds - Crest Zone of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Stone Mountain Crest Zone...

Jefferson National Forest
Elevation 4000 feet - October 12, 2011
Wet & Colorful In Lofty High-Eagle Crest Zone 
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

[ October 12 featured chilly crest zone conditions with MAXS in the low-mid 50s as a capping pilatus cloud layer kept visibilities low along ridges and windward facing slopes of the High Knob Massif ( remnant highcountry mass of the High Knob Landform ) ].


Across Rugged North Slopes...

October 9, 2011
Quartz Arenite Cliffs And Colors Of Autumn 2011
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Color Fills This Landscape!

Sassafras ( Sassafras albidum ) - October 12, 2011
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


From Mountain Lakes Galore...

Majestic Keokee Lake Panorama - October 14, 2011
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.



To Incredible Sandstone Caves...

October 12, 2011
Sand Cave - Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

And
Subterranean Caves 
Of Another World...

Gnome In A Cave - October 8, 2011
Richard Kretz In Unthanks Cave Natural Area Preserve

The High Knob Landform
Has It All In 2011.
( Gnomes Too! )


Spring brings the first dazzling color burst as life regenerates for another year with wildly varying shades of wondrous new growth.




Summer produces a continuous display of tones amid many, many life forms as the growing season matures to perpetuate incredible biodiversity!




Autumn, like the final breathe of life itself, generates a sudden explosion of energy that over runs nature's color palette before the onset of winter dormancy.




October 12, 2011
Little Stony Basin of High Knob Massif
Colorations of Autumn 2011 - Majesty Of A Single Leaf
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


Autumn 2011 
Color Season History
( High Knob Massif )

During autumn 2011 its a early-mid October peak for the High Knob Massif and upper elevations in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

Colorations began developing during mid-late September in upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, above 2700 feet, as they typically do each autumn season ( actual peaking varying with weather ).

October 1, 2011
Steam Fog Forming In Cold Air
Bark Camp Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

By the 5th Annual High Knob Naturalist Rally sponsored by The Clinch Coalition, my friend & photographer Richard Kretz shows that color was rapidly expanding down into Little Stony Basin.

To see photographs from all 5 Naturalist Rally events check out the website of Richard Kretz at the following link:


October 1, 2011
Elevation 2734 feet
Beautiful Bark Camp Lake On A COLD Afternoon
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Some of these early changing trees amid the cold air drainage of the lake shore lost their leaves by the time Roddy captured the setting on October 12.

If you wish to catch the first vivid colors of the season in the High Knob Massif its important to begin in mid-late September, as this website has now illustrated live for 3 consecutive autumns.

For a history of peaks during past autumn seasons scroll down to "High Knob Massif - Peak Color Periods By Season In The Upper Elevations," on the following link:


October 1, 2011
Early Color Changes In The High Knob Massif
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Naturalist Richard Kretz illustrates that more than just colorful leaves were present to brighten the autumn landscape!

A few species at Bark Camp Lake on October 1, 2011

Downy Lobelia ( Lobelia puberula )
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Southern Harebell ( Campanula divaricata )
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Indian Pipe ( Monotropa uniflora )
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Showy or Appalachian Gentian ( Gentiana decora )
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Late Purple Aster ( Symphyotrichum patens )
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Rabbit Tobacco or also known as 
Sweet Everlasting ( Gnaphalium obtusifolium )
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

White Heath Aster ( Symphyotrichum pilosum )
Photograph by Richard Kretz - © All Rights Reserved.

Despite wetness, early colors were advanced by numerous September nights in the 30s & 40s amid upper elevations in the High Knob Massif.

Widespread colorations developed by October 7 to make for many scenic drives along mountain roads in the massif, with just spectacular views reported from overlooks in Flag Rock Recreation Area of the City of Norton.

October 7, 2011
Color Changes Along State Route 706
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

High Knob Massif - October 7, 2011
Climbing Up Toward High Chaparral - State Route 706
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

By the October 15-16 weekend colors were still nice but tending to fade from those brightest hues observed previous days in the High Knob Massif, since mid-late September, with the number of trees mostly bare of leaves at higher elevations about matching those still sporting green upon lower slopes below 2700 feet.

[ Colors viewed from Overlooks in Flag Rock Recreation Area, for example, went from being "spectacular" as described by Michele Knox, City of Norton Parks & Recreation Director, on October 7, to less brilliant but still nice as documented on October 16 by award winning photographer Roddy Addington ].


October 16, 2011
Overlook Elevation 3200 feet
View From Flag Rock Recreation Area - City of Norton
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

October 16, 2011
Flag Rock Recreation Area
Sun Glare & Colors of Autumn
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

October 16, 2011
Overlook Elevation 3200 feet
Looking Down Upon The City of Norton
The Flag Rock of High Knob - A Natural Wonder
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.



Cumberland Gap
National Historical Park

October 1, 2011
Cornshuck Dolls At Hensley Settlement
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend & photographer Harold Jerrell captured many interesting scenes amid the highlands of majestic Cumberland Gap National Historical Park during early October.

October 1, 2011
Elevation 3300 feet
Hensley Flats of Cumberland Gap NHP
Finley Hensley House & Old Time Split-Rail Fence
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

October 1, 2011
Willie Gibbons Fence In The Hensley Settlement
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.


The Pinnacle Overlook
Layers Of Low-Lying Morning Fog
( October 7, 2011 )

Looking Across Southwest End of High Knob Landform

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Awesome Colors & Details - Photo 1
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Awesome Colors & Details - Photo 2
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Awesome Colors & Details - Photo 3
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Awesome Colors & Details - Photo 4
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Intricate Details Of Morning Fog - Photo 5
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

The above photographs are in the order which Harold captured them, and show simply amazing landscape and air flow detail upon close inspection.


On The Wilderness Road
Historic Martin's Station
 ( October 8, 2011 )

Western Lee County of the High Knob Landform
Road To Fort - Wilderness Road State Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.


Harold is simply a MASTER at capturing frontier life and attended the Fall Encampment Event at Historic Martin's Station in majestic Wilderness Road State Park ( everyone should check this out ).

Gunsmith Shop At Martin's Station
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Mad Annie - Better Watch Yer Step Boys!
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Madge - Hard At Work Fixin' Supper
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Log Cabins On The Appalachian Frontier
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.


NW Side of Cumberland Mountain
Incredible Sand Cave
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
( October 12, 2011 )

Mossy Cliffs Along Sand Cave Trail
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Fern Colony & Boulder Field
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Sand Cave Fern Decorated In Autumn
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Sand Cave of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Sand Cave On Cumberland Mountain
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Colors of Autumn
Sand Cave Wall Art - By Mother Nature & Time!
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Sand Cave Arch - October 12, 2011
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Like sands of a beach, the 1.5 acre expanse inside the arched dome of Sand Cave is truly an amazing work of nature formed by slow but prolonged weathering over time of this ancient landscape.

Many thanks to Harold for capturing these wonderful scenes across Cumberland Gap NHP.


Additional Autumn 2011 Scenes
In Southwest Virginia

October 9, 2011
Long Ridge of Tennessee Valley Divide
Beauty of Sassafras ( Sassafras albidum )
Photograph by Genevie Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

October 9, 2011
Long Ridge of Tennessee Valley Divide
Early Color Changes In A Mixed Forest
Photograph by Genevie Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

My friends Wayne & Genevie Riner team up to illustrate some beautiful autumn scenes from both ends of southwest Virginia!

October 9, 2011
Early Color Changes - Lick Mountain Area of Wythe County
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

October 12, 2011
Lick Mountain of Wythe County
Autumn 2011 In The Appalachian Oak-Hickory Forest
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Lick Mountain rises in the Great Valley corridor of Virginia, like Glade-Pond mountains in adjacent Smyth County, and features the most significant outcrops of Shady Dolomite in the state with major lead and zinc deposits present in upper members of its formation ( mining occurred during 1750-1981 ).  

Lick Mountain Colors - October 12, 2011
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

October 12, 2011
Tree Stand In Old Chestnut Oak ( Quercus montana )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The old chestnut oak has provided food and shelter for many generations of woodland creatures.  It stands at the end of a trail and holds a tree stand used by past deer hunters."


Comments On General Peak
During Autumn 2011

For the 3rd consecutive autumn season colorations across the area in general have again been sub-par, with more muted tones and less widespread vivid colors than historically observed.

More vivid colors in the High Knob Massif and upper elevations in Cumberland Gap NHP are attributed to a higher concentration of northern species, at least in part, within these mesic, rich forests ruled by abundant moisture ( where color tends to be good to exceptional every autumn as this website documents ).

While pockets of vivid color have been seen across the area, at least for part of the peak, mile after mile of spectacular vistas observed in many past seasons did not develop for many places ( especially those outside the best color locations just noted ).

Yellow Poplar Leaf-mining Weevils ( Odontopus calceatus ) were implicated last autumn as being a factor in that species; however, it now appears that something more significant and widespread may be impacting general forest conditions.

I noted the Shady Dolomite above specifically to ponder if a higher Magnesium component could have supported the Lick Mountain color flare, amid what is a much drier environment, since a lack of Mg and other such nutrients have been implicated in general forest declines by some studies.

[ The above does not explain, however, the lack of color in parts of the Powell & Clinch River basins which have soils weathered from calcareous stratigraphy ( * ) ].

Autumn 2011 color will be recorded as good to locally great in places like the High Knob Massif, and some other higher elevations, but again less spectacular than historically observed for most of the region ( especially lower elevations ).

[ The above being based upon several decades of recorded fall color observations by this researcher ].

With the above noted, its just hard to beat color in the High Knob Landform as both pro and public photographers illustrate very well. Thanks to all!

Bark Camp Lake of High Knob Massif - Mid October 2011
Photograph by Maggie Collins to WCYB-TV Public Archive

Colors From Flag Rock Recreation Area - October 2011
Photograph by Larry Williams to WCYB-TV Public Archive

*Comments and observations are welcomed.  Submit them to my EMAIL found in the ABOUT ME section of this website within the View My Complete Profile link.

[ NOTE: This website is best viewed using Internet Explorer 9 or Google Chrome.  Other browsers can be adjusted to generally fit their word spacing if desired ].



( Updated: October 21, 2011 )
Major Autumn Storm Brings 
Second High Elevation Snow of Season

October 20, 2011
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif - Elevation 4178 feet
Photograph by Terry Surface - © All Rights Reserved.

Snowflakes began swirling during evening hours of October 19 as the second wintry event of this young 2011-12 season coated upper elevations in the High Knob Massif.

[ The first snow began sticking to above ground objects around 2200 hours ( 10 PM ) on October 19 as air temperatures dipped to freezing above 4000 feet ].

NAM Model Initialization At 8:00 PM October 19, 2011

This big storm which dropped 1.50" to 2.00" of total precipitation upon much of the High Knob Landform, was accompanied by strong W-SW winds and a rapid temperature drop. 

NAM Model Initialization At 8:00 AM October 20, 2011

[ Note above that mean 850 mb winds ended up being more W in nature, above a SW low-level flow at the surface ( where 30 to 40+ mph gusts were common ) ].

My friend Denver Garrett measured 1.47" of rain at the northern edge of The Cedars, southwest of Jonesville, where no snowflakes ever fell amid lowlands of the Powell River Valley.

October 20, 2011
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif - 12:35 PM
Image by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

[ While most roofs were blown clean by strong winds, note that the awning seen above the door across this road managed somehow to collect a good bit of snow ].

Snow levels remained higher than I expected given past climatology of cold SW flows into the massif, with sticking mostly amid the main crest zone above 3400 feet in heads of the following:

Benges Basin
Big Cherry Lake Basin
Clear Creek Basin
High Knob Lake Basin
Hoot Owl Hollow Basin
Lost Creek Basin
Rocky Hollow Basin
Straight Fork Basin

Elevation 4189 feet
12:38 PM on October 20, 2011
Eagle Knob Communications Area of High Knob Massif
Image by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

My friends Carol & James Bolling reported beautiful conditions in the head of Big Cherry Lake Basin, southwest of the above setting, with trees rime coated from top to bottom over snow covered ground ( gages released melt water for 1" to 2" of snowfall ).

October 20, 2011
Along the Virginia-Kentucky Border ( Harlan-Wise )
Snow On Black Mountain, Kentucky At 2:25 PM
Photograph Courtesy of Jackson, Ky., NWS Forecast Office

Around 1" of snow was also reported on the ground below the FAA Radar Dome on Black Mountain, some 15 air miles west of the High Knob peak, on the Virginia-Kentucky border.

[ While this event will pale in comparison to most upcoming this season its significance rests in the fact of this being the second one of OCTOBER ( the first snowflakes typically fall amid the High Knob highcountry during October ) with perhaps, DARE I say, one more event before this month ends??? ].

Reference the following link on this website to see how my friend & photographer Roddy Addington captured the first wintry event of October 2011:


NASA Visible At 1831 UTC ( 2:31 PM ) October 20, 2011
Image Courtesy Of The Earth Science Office

It should be noted that the SW flow did its thing during this event across far southwestern Virginia, despite a lack of lower elevation snowflakes, with temperatures that held in the 30s all day in the City of Norton on October 20 ( and around 30 to 32 degrees at the summit level of the High Knob Massif ).

Temperatures in Norton did not rise above the 30s until this gusty SW upslope flow veered W to N into evening hours and diminished in strength, in contrast to places such as Pound, Clintwood, and Haysi where afternoon MAXS reached upper 40s to around 50 degrees on downsloping leeward of the High Knob Landform and Tennessee Valley Divide ( forecasters take note! ).

[ Moderate to strong SW flow events tend to generate cloudier, cooler, and wetter conditions as air is funneled upward through the High Knob Landform of Lee, Wise, Scott counties to the Tennessee Valley Divide VERSES adjacent locations.

Many cases have been documented during the cold season of what some call "freak" snow events within this corridor, that actually are not freaks at all! ].

Mountain valleys experienced their lowest temps of this very young cold season when clouds finally broke, with sub-freezing MINS observed during October 21-23.

Specific Minimums Included ( * ):

October 21
City of Norton: 31 degrees
Jonesville 3.1 WSW: 33 degrees
Clintwood 1 W: 34 degrees

October 22
City of Norton: 27 degrees ( 11 hours sub-freezing )
Jonesville 3.1 WSW: 28 degrees
Clintwood 1 W: 30 degrees

October 23
City of Norton: 27 degrees
Jonesville 3.1 WSW: 29 degrees
Clintwood 1 W: 29 degrees 


( * ) - MINS in mid-upper elevation valleys of the High Knob Massif typically run several degrees lower than those observed within the City of Norton and Clintwood ( the High Knob Massif contains an array of valleys resting between 2400 and 3600 feet above sea level ).

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