Monday, May 14, 2012

The Beauty of Mid-Late Spring 2012


April 27, 2012
Yellow Lady's Slipper ( Cypripedium parviflorum )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.


Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"There, beside of the road, was this gorgeous yellow lady slipper.  It is a one of our native orchids, the one that I think of as the yellow queen of the deep forest."

No one living in or visiting this ancient mountain landscape of the southern Appalachians can deny the awesome beauty that is spring!

The High Knob Landform
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Spring Forest of The Cumberland Gap In Misty Fog
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


NW Flank of High Knob Landform
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
View Looking NE from The Pinnacle Overlook
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Some folks think of a cloudy, rainy day as being sad and depressing but I think of it as glorious and magical as life giving water from the heavens above nourishes a diversity of living things beyond our wildest imaginations.

April 22, 2012
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Sweeping Vista from The Pinnacle Overlook
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Climate Statistics
For April 2012

( Lower Elevations of Russell Fork Basin )
Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 67.7 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 39.1 degrees
MEAN: 53.4 degrees
Highest Temperature: 82 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 25 degrees
Total Rainfall: 4.81"
Snowfall: Trace
2012 Precipitation: 16.08"

( Northern Base of High Knob Massif )
City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Daily MAX: 64.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 37.6 degrees
MEAN: 50.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 79 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 23 degrees
Total Rainfall: 5.54"
Snowfall: Trace
2012 Precipitation: 23.29"

( Along the Tennessee Valley Divide )
Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 62.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 42.6 degrees
MEAN: 52.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 78 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 29 degrees
Total Rainfall: 4.87"
Snowfall: 0.3"
2012 Precipitation: 17.94"

( Northern Edge of The Cedars )
Jonesville 3.1 WSW - Elevation 1422 feet
Average Daily MAX: 69.5 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 42.5 degrees
MEAN: 56.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 84 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 24 degrees
Total Rainfall: 2.81"
2012 Precipitation: 19.38"

In the High Knob highcountry temp means during April varied from mid-upper 50s by day at highest elevations to the 30s at night in colder mountain valleys.

April precipitation varied from 3.00" to 6.00" with the heaviest 5.00" to 6.00" amounts across northern slopes of the massif, including the 
City of Norton and Coeburn areas.

April 26, 2012
High Knob Massif
Dark Skies Above Powell Valley
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

When moisture and big mountains get all tangled up there is indeed a special beauty to such days that fill all seasons in this land of wetness and extraordinary ecological diversity.

April 26, 2012
Little Stone Mountain Gap
Powell Valley Overlook of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Plenty of March-April moisture was measured to support such days in the High Knob Landform, with a general 11.00" to 14.00"+ in the massif area.

Specific Precipitation Totals
( March-April 2012 )

Appalachia Lake Water Plant:  11.01"

Nora 4 SSE: 11.06"

Robinson Knob of High Knob Massif: 11.59"

Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif: 11.64" ( M )

Coeburn Filter Plant: 12.83"

City of Norton Water Plant: 13.41"

[ Even with up to 0.50" of March-April loss due to evaporation at Big Cherry Dam it averaged a little under its pace of the previous 40 months ( due mostly to less April rainfall at the Dam ) ].

April 26, 2012
Powell Valley Overlook Shrouded In Clouds
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

There were also many nice days in between, some featuring chilly conditions and simply spectacular mountain skies!

April 24, 2012
U.S. Route 23 at Powell Valley Overlook
Spectacular Skies Along The Crooked Road
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

April 24, 2012
Chilly Air & Spectacular Skies
A Day of Strong & Gusty WNW-NW Winds
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

My friends Wayne & Genevie Riner rescued an American Goldfinch that accidently flew into a window about this time in April.  With "bird in hand" the little fellow recovered and headed back toward the highland ridges.

April 22, 2012
Return To The Ridges
American Goldfinch ( Carduelis tristis )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The American Goldfinch also known as the Eastern Goldfinch returns to the ridges of Dickenson County to follow one of its favorite foods, the dandelion.  This one flies away 
without a look back."


May 2012

May 12, 2012
High Knob Massif
Beautiful Spring Vegetation
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


Differences in spring emergence continued 
to be visible in May with upper elevations of the High Knob Massif lagging behind the lower terrain 
( below 2700 feet ).

The infamous "tenth of May spell" often talked about by local mountain folks, named for a chilly period that develops around this time every year, produced frosty conditions amid higher mountain valleys into morning hours of May 11 ( * ).

*This chilly spell was also called "Blackberry Winter" since the vines were in full bloom amid lower-middle elevations of the area where flowering and vegetation maturity is running ahead of schedule in 2012.

It was interesting to note that minimum temperatures displayed a distinct variation with increasing elevation in mountain valleys, with drier air in upper elevations helping support the strongest cooling.

May 12, 2012
Pappus Beauty of A May Composite
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

May 11 Temperatures In Valleys
High Knob Massif Area
( Minimums By Elevation )

36 degrees at 1560 feet

34 degrees at 2141 feet

32 degrees at 2740 feet

30 degrees at 3300 feet

The above suggests upper 20s to around 30 degree MINS were common on high valley floors of upper Big Cherry Basin and High Knob Lake Basin 
( elevation 3150 to 3500+ feet ).

May 1, 2012
A Time For Flowers
Black Locust ( Robinia pseudoacacia )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"Hanging like a pod of grapes, the creamy color of the black locust bloom is to soon disappear."

[ These beautiful bloom pods of Black Locust are the only part of this tree which are edible, eaten raw or better dipped in batter and fried into "fritters" ].


Climate Statistics
For May 1-15, 2012

Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 75.5 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 51.6 degrees
MEAN: 63.6 degrees
Total Rainfall: 1.98"
2012 Precipitation: 18.06"

City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Daily MAX: 73.2 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 50.0 degrees
MEAN: 61.6 degrees
Total Rainfall: 2.87"
2012 Precipitation: 26.16"

Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 71.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 55.6 degrees
MEAN: 63.4 degrees
Total Rainfall: 1.82"
2012 Precipitation: 19.76"

In the High Knob highcountry, temperature means during the first half of May varied from mid-upper 60s above 2700 feet by day to 40s at night in colder mountain basins.

A general 2.50" to 3.50" of rainfall was near to below the typically wet pace for this mid-point in May ( one of the wettest months of the year ).


( Updated: May 18, 2012 )
Explosive Thunderstorm Development
High Knob Landform - Tennessee Valley Divide

May 18, 2012
NASA Visible Satellite Image At 2:45 PM

From relatively cool morning conditions, with temps in the chilly 40s to around 50 degrees amid higher valleys of the High Knob Massif area, there was an explosion of afternoon thunderstorms as clouds towered 40,000+ feet ( 8 vertical miles ) upward into the heavens above the 
High Knob Landform.

May 18, 2012
JKL Doppler Base Reflectivity At 2:41 PM

Downpours of heavy rain accompanied lightning and booming thunder as the storms blossomed along Little Stone Mountain into Powell Valley 
and Big Stone Gap by 2:41 PM.

Heavy rainfall also extended across Benges Basin of the Norton Reservoirs into upper portions of the majestic High Knob Lake and Big Cherry Lake basins ( although Big Cherry Dam actually missed the heavy action, the Lake still benefited from downpours falling upon the head of Big Cherry Basin ).

Doppler radar VIL densities and base reflectivities suggested hail, which was verified by numerous residents and photographs to support a MRX NWSFO Severe Thunderstorm Warning.

May 18, 2012
Hail & Heavy Rain In East Stone Gap of Wise County
Photograph Courtesy of Joe Rasnick
Submitted to News5 ( WCYB-TV )

The strongest convection pounded an area from Norton to Stickleyville and Pennington Gap as it drifted southwest through the calcareous core of the High Knob Landform.

The afternoon temperature dropped to 59 degrees in the City of Norton at 3:00 PM as the vigorous storms mixed down chilly air from aloft ( with even cooler conditions in higher elevations of the High Knob Massif ).

SW of Lovelady Gap
Dry Creek of Wallen Creek Basin
Result of Heavy Rain In Stickleyville of Lee County
Photograph Courtesy of Sarah Parsons
Submitted to News5 ( WCYB-TV )

Rain amounts were heavy enough to swell creeks as illustrated by Sarah Parsons in the beautiful Wallen Creek Basin of northeastern Lee County.

Andrew Greear and Joe Carter reported 0.38" of rain at Norton Water Plant to bring the May 1-19 tally to 3.26" 
( 17.12" for the Spring and 27.00" so far this year ).



Beautiful May Sunrise
Birch Knob of Pine Mountain

May 12, 2012
Elevation 3149 feet
Cumberland Overthrust Block
Looking Northeast From Birch Knob of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

May 12, 2012
Majestic Morning Sunrise Illuminates The Cumberlands
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Observe the fog bank over John Flannagan Lake along the southeast side of Pine Mountain.

May 12, 2012
Glory Of The Rising Sun
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Can you count the number of ridges in this next view?

May 12, 2012
View from Pine Mountain
Along The Rugged Virginia-Kentucky Border
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


Another awesome set of scenes by my friend and photographer Roddy Addington who recently took First Place and Best of Show in the 2012 Photography Contest at Cumberland Falls.
Way to go Rod!


Another Rescue

May 5, 2012
American Redstart ( Setophaga ruticilla )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Amazingly, yet another bird that crashed into the windows of my friends Wayne & Genevie Riner was saved and photographed before it flew away into the wilds.

Under birds in the Ecology-Biodiversity section of 
The High Knob Landform I have four great photographs taken by Wayne & Genevie of "birds in the hand."  Amazingly, as noted, all were saved and flew away!  Note how TINY warblers are as illustrated by this American Redstart photograph!

May 1, 2012
The Art of Camouflage
Eastern Fence Lizard ( Sceloporus undulatus )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"This fence lizard has picked the ideal place to wait on tasty ants that may come by."


Green Up & Geology Notes

May 2, 2012
Looking S-SW from "Airplane Rock"
Hazy Summer-like Conditions Open May 2012
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Atypically hazy & hot conditions for early May started the month off like summer time, reducing visibilities greatly upon looking southward across the Cumberland Overthrust Block from majestic Birch Knob of Pine Mountain.

The High Knob Massif being barely visible capping the far horizon across right-center of photograph.

May 2, 2012
Mountain Greenery from Pine Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

While coming earlier than usual, green up followed the typical trends with fastest emergence and maturation of vegetation across the foothills of eastern Kentucky, far southwestern portions of the High Knob Landform ( Cumberland Gap to Norris Lake section ), and thermal belt locations featuring milder nocturnal temperatures.

Reference the following for a nice overview of how a combination of elevation + latitude differences across the High Knob Landform = huge variations in spring emergence:


Clicking consecutively on the next two photographs by Roddy will illustrate the changing geology upon looking from the Pine Mountain Anticline ( and Pine Mountain crestline ) to the Middlesboro Syncline.

Russell Fork Basin
The Ohio River Watershed
From Anticline to Syncline & Fault Zone
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Same Photograph With Illustration Of Geology
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Open fields of the Adam Childress Farm rest near the base of Pine Mountain and just northwest of the axis of the geological Middlesboro Syncline which, northeast of the Black Mountains, runs nearly parallel with the Pound River Valley across northern Wise & Dickenson counties.

The natural topographic separation of mountain ridges visible 
in the distance marks the Clintwood-Coeburn Fault Zone that stretches from Pine Mountain south to near Guest River and the northeastern base of the High Knob Massif in Coeburn.

The USGS named Coeburn Fault is east of the Glamorgan Fault that forms the nearly straight, north to south running Indian Creek Valley in Wise County ( the Glamorgan Fault ends amid northern slopes of the High Knob Massif in Clear Creek Basin just south of the Ramsey community ).

Russell Fork Basin of the Big Sandy watershed of the Ohio River is largely a topographic and geologic basin with both terrain & stratigraphy that dip toward the axis of the Middlesboro Syncline.

This fact combined with lofty terrain of the High Knob Landform, Black Mountains, and associated Tennessee Valley Divide acts to dictate the climate of the Russell Fork Basin ( and therefore its biological diversity and geomorphology ).

  Meteorologists would be doing well to understand the geology of this region since both topography and climatology are intimately related!

The Great Cumberland Overthrust Block
Beauty Of Spring Skies Above The Cumberlands
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

This is particularly true in the Cumberland Block where formation of the massive Powell Valley Anticline of the High Knob Landform forced development of the Middlesboro Syncline and many associated faults & folds.

The Middlesboro Syncline being un-syncline-like in topographic character amid the coal rich Black Mountains which represent some of the most maturely dissected terrain in the Appalachians with deep erosion of multi-layered sequences of shales, coal, and siltstones beneath more resistant ridge forming sandstones.

The High Knob Massif - Black Mountain corridor is not only the wettest amid the Cumberland Block but also the wettest in both Virginia & Kentucky over the longer term.  That did not happen by mere chance, or recently, as development of extreme topography and biodiversity over time has been shaped by a long history of wetness in the mean.

A simply wonderful realization since the entire southern Appalachian landscape is intimately connected with relationships as just described.

May 16, 2012
Viewed from Lonesome Pine Airport
The Gorgeous Colors of Spring 2012
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Wow, what a way to close this update!