Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wicked Conditions In The High Knob Massif


January 22, 2014
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Hazardous In High Knob Massif Rime Forest
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


Snow, rime, and SUB-zero coldness have turned conditions harsh in the High Knob Massif where wickedness and beauty collide!

January 22, 2014
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Road Conditions Following Wind Blown Snow
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A general 4" to 8" of snow depth accumulated across the highlands of Wise County, Va., 
during the January 21-22 winter storm.

An additional 0.5" to 1.5" accumulated with a reinforcing
arctic cold front during the morning of January 23.

More DOUBLE-Digit Sub-Zero cold followed,
with brutal wind chill factors once again.

A testimony to recent bitter coldness has been a continuation of ice accumulations amid the Falls 
of Little Stony Creek Gorge, where great mounds 
of ice now stand above this Class IV-V steep creek.

January 26, 2014
Elevation 2180 feet
Jefferson National Forest
Little Stony Creek of High Knob Massif
Frozen Upper Falls of Little Stony Gorge
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

American Whitewater Class IV-V Steep Creek

With another bitter blast poised to strike 
during January 27-29, ice will only increase!

January 26, 2014
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Great Mounds Of Ice On Little Stony Creek
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The Upper Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge is 10 air miles ESE of the High Knob peak, near the southeastern end of the massif in Scott County, Va., 2043 vertical feet lower than the summit level and 890 vertical feet higher than the Clinch River at Dungannon.

January 26, 2014
High Knob Massif
Majestic Upper Falls of Little Stony Gorge
Blue-GREEN Color Of Frozen Waterfall Pools
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The increase in hydrogen bonding of water molecules amid the more rigid lattice structure 
of ice changes the absorption spectrum to lower energy levels, making back scattered rays from light penetrating deeply into these frozen mounds of ice appear green to bluish-green in color.

Causes Of Color - Snow And Ice

January 16, 2014
HDR Photograph At Upper Falls of Little Stony
Frozen Mound Of Greenish Ice At Frozen Falls
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

January 26, 2014
Upper Falls of Little Stony Creek Gorge
Looking Down Upon Top Of Frozen Falls
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The swirl of whitewater through an opening in the ice is all that could be seen upon looking down from top of the 25-30 foot falls, with a solidly frozen pool of water stretching outward in the distance ( partially covered by snow ).

One year ago it was all about gushing whitewater amid a blizzard of intense snowfall, spiced with lightning & thunder, as The Fast & Furious Storm dumped over 15" of snow depth on Little Stony Gorge within just a few hours during January 17.

As pro kayaker Stephen McGrady said, 
"It Was Awesome."

January 17, 2013
Scroll Down To Running Little Stony Gorge
The Fast & Furious Storm of January 2013

or watch "One For The Books" now.

January 22, 2014
Water Elevation 3318 feet
Snow Covered Surface of Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Rod Addington Photography

The five lakes sitting atop the High Knob Massif had frozen prior to this recent winter storm, such that they are now snow covered amid 
their high mountain basins.


Lake Elevations
of the High Knob Massif
( Lakes Amid Core of Massif )

High Knob Lake: 3490 feet
( 733 vertical feet lower than summit level )

Upper Norton Reservoir: 3318 feet
( 905 vertical feet lower than summit level )

Lower Norton Reservoir: 3239 feet
( 984 vertical feet lower than summit level )

Big Cherry Lake: 3120 feet
( 1103 vertical feet lower than summit level )

Bark Camp Lake: 2734 feet
( 1489 vertical feet lower than summit level )

Lofty basins of these majestic mountain lakes are candidates for the coldest temperatures in Virginia on any given night when cold air drainage rules.  Prime conditions include clear skies, light winds, and dry air above a snowpack.  The morning of January 29 is the current pick for the coldest night of Winter 2013-14 ( at least, up to this point ).

The large vertical elevation differences between the summit level and lake basins enhance their decoupling and nocturnal cooling potential throughout the year ( frost is possible in any month ).

January 22, 2014
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Upper Norton Reservoir of City of Norton
Pristine Winter Scene & Arctic Sunshine
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

Once lake surfaces freeze there is no possible warming influence at the air-water interface, with extensive snow across lake surfaces adding to the cooling potential of these lofty mountain basins.

Photographer Bill Harris said the air temp was a mere 5 degrees when he captured this pristine winter scene of the Upper Norton Reservoir.

January 22, 2014
Northwestern Flank of High Knob Massif
Rime Capped Peaks of Little Stone Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Majestic Little Stone Mountain is one of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the southern Appalachians as it rises above Powell Valley in Wise County, Va., forming the northwestern flank of the High Knob Massif and continuous with the northwest limb, or mountain flank, of the High Knob Landform ( * ).

*It continues southwest as Stone-Cumberland Mountain and is broken by Big Stone Gap, Pennington Gap, and Cumberland Gap.

Although rising 2000 vertical feet above the Middle Fork of the Powell River in Big Stone Gap, peaks of Little Stone Mountain are all lower in elevation than the valley floor at High Knob Lake and only slightly higher than extensive valley floors of the Big Cherry Lake basin.

January 22, 2014
View of Southeastern Slopes
Above Snow Covered Powell Valley
Labeled Peaks of Little Stone Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Beautiful Appalachia Lake sits upon the jagged, cliff laden northwest side of Little Stone Mountain at an elevation of
2360 feet, with Rimrock Lake ( 2880 feet ) near its northeast end
( behind fourth unlabeled peak at far right in Rod's photograph ).

Towering above the Head of Powell Valley, with its great calcareous cliffs, a heavily rimed crestline of the massif stood beyond "The Lonesome Pine."

January 22, 2014
High Knob Massif
Towering Above Head of Powell Valley
Looking Toward Rocky Hollow Gap
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A field of Snow Flowers amid
the Head of Powell Valley

January 22, 2014
Field Of Snow Flowers On Bitter Winter Day
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Back amid the high country, beyond and above the lofty rimed crestline of Rocky Hollow Gap, strong wind gusts were blowing rime crystals through bitter air and adding moisture to the snowpack.

High Knob Massif
Azure Blue Skies Above Rime Forest
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A close up reveals the many rime crystals.

January 22, 2014
Along State Route 619 & USFS 238
Wind Blown Snow & Rime Fall
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

A Rime Storm formed when a gush of bitter wind blew through an opening in the Northern Woods.

January 22, 2014
Winter Wonderland Conditions
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Rime Storm Amid Bitter Wind Gusts
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Winter Wonderland Supreme!

January 22, 2014
High Knob Massif
An Arctic Blue Sky Above The Rime Forest
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Veteran VDOT snow plow driver John Varner found similar conditions along the crestline of Black Mountain, as he worked the Wise County 
side of State Route 160.

January 22, 2014
Snow Covered State Route 160
Rimed Crestline Along Black Mountain
Photograph by John Varner - © All Rights Reserved.

State Route 160 crosses Black Mountain 
at an elevation of just over 3700 feet.

January 22, 2014
Black Mountain In Wise County, Virginia
Opening The Road To Virginia-Kentucky Travel
Photograph by John Varner - © All Rights Reserved.

John works out of East Stone Gap VDOT and often talks with a contractor that plows State Route 619, between Norton and Camp Rock of the High Knob Massif, where he reports snow depths which are typically greater than on Route 160. 

January 22, 2014
Near The Summit of Black Mountain
A Beauty Shot From State Route 160
Photograph by John Varner - © All Rights Reserved.



A Bitter Day From Space
January 22, 2014

The day began with upslope clouds and mountain waves, as so often is the case, that dissipated to reveal an arctic sky above the freshness of a glistening snowpack.

NASA Visible Images

Click consecutively in picture viewer for motion

NASA Visible Image At 8:15 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 8:32 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 8:45 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:02 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:15 AM January 22, 2014

Counties Overlay For Reference
NASA Visible Image At 9:15 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:32 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:45 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 10:15 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 10:45 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 11:02 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 11:15 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 11:32 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 11:45 AM January 22, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 12:15 PM January 22, 2014

Counties Overlay For Reference
NASA Visible Image At 12:15 PM January 22, 2014

A high-resolution visible image taken at 1840 UTC ( 1:40 PM ) on January 22 shows the lack of snow from near southern bases of the High Knob Massif south and southwest across the Great Valley.

High-Resolution Visible Image
NASA Visible Image At 1:40 PM January 22, 2014
NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

While snow blankets most of the massif area, including majestic Powell Valley in Wise County, Va., a distinct lack of snow is evident southwest across the eroded calcareous core
of the High Knob Landform ( * ).

*Here snow covers only the northwestern flank that includes Cumberland Mountain & higher elevations of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.



SW Upslope Flow Snow
Warm Air Advection Regime
January 25, 2014

Lee County, Virginia
Amid The SW Flow Snow
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis )
Photograph by Harold L. Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Significant snow fell upon strong SW air flow trajectories during January 25 with widespread 
2" to 3" depths across Lee County, 3" to 4" from Powell Valley of Wise County into Norton-Wise, and 4" to 6" along windward slopes of the 
High Knob Massif and Black Mountain.

This was a hazardous event and no advisories were issued on the Virginia side of the stateline.  Following outstanding forecasting by the MRX NWS Forecast Office during the January 21-22
winter storm, impacts of this event were badly missed.

January 25, 2014
Bad Travel Along State Route 160
VDOT Working Black Mountain in Wise County
Photograph by John Varner - © All Rights Reserved.

Temperatures were in the 10s to lower 20s during the snowfall periods of this windy event, from the City of Norton-Wise across the High Knob Massif, which combined with strong SW winds ( gusts of 30-40+ mph ) created low wind chills to go along with snow & blowing snow.

January 25, 2014
City of Norton Automated Weather Station
While temperatures are accurate, wind speeds & directions
are not representative of mean conditions in Norton-Wise

The MAX of 26 degrees ( 25.5 degrees at Norton WP ) did not occur until after snow ended behind an evening snow burst associated with a cold frontal passage ( behind which westerly winds briefly actually allowed temperatures to warm prior to plunging again into morning hours of January 26 ).

January 26, 2014 ( Midnight to 1:00 PM )
City of Norton Automated Weather Station


Sample Conditions In Wise

Click consecutively on images for motion

January 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 12:08 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 12:09 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 12:11 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 12:12 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Snow began around 10:00 AM and fell moderate 
to heavy through 1:00 PM before a lull, featuring 
hit-miss snow showers, developed during the 
mid-late afternoon hours of January 25.

Evening bursts of snow recovered 
roads and reduced visibilities.

January 25, 2014 at 7:22 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 7:24 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 7:35 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 7:53 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 7:57 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 8:06 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 8:11 PM
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

January 25, 2014 at 8:36 PM
Comparison Visibility View With Flurries
University of Virginia's College In Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Another important aspect of this event emerged since air was
vertically cold enough to support snow through the atmosphere.

*What Is A Golden Rule of Tri-Cities Snow Forecasting ( with respect to orographics )?

As I have stated on this website long ago...

More snow always tends to fall across the TRI, given air is cold enough for snow, when air flow trajectories DO NOT have to cross the High Knob Landform - Black Mountain corridor to reach the Great Valley.  Again, take note forecasters!

*This means more snow can fall upon the Tri-Cities area when air flow is W to SW in direction ( missing moisture extraction by the high Cumberlands ) since it arrives with more moisture for snow production when air is cold enough for crystalline magic!

( In Wake of January 25 Snow )
NASA Visible Images

Click consecutively on images for motion

NASA Visible Image At 8:59 AM January 26, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:15 AM January 26, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:30 AM January 26, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:45 AM January 26, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 10:15 AM January 26, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 10:45 AM January 26, 2014

Graphic Image
NASA Visible Image At 10:45 AM January 26, 2014

Counties Overlay For Reference
NASA Visible Image At 10:45 AM January 26, 2014

The 4" of snow at City of Norton WP brought 
the snow depth to 6", when adding in older snow, making a general 6-12" of depth across northern slopes of the High Knob Massif 
( from base to summit ).



January 28, 2014
The Slickest Snow
of Winter 2013-14
( At least, To This Point )

January 28, 2014
High Knob Massif
Upper Falls of Little Stony Gorge
Looking Down Upon Increasing ICE
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

Moisture input into extremely cold air developed a low density, very slick snow during daylight hours of January 28 across the northern extent of a 
Deep South tracking low pressure.

A good TEST for slickness: IF snow is harder than typical to walk upon it will likely be harder than typical to DRIVE upon!

January 28, 2014
City of Norton Automated Weather Station

The snow fell with temperatures in the single digits and 10s, with maximums only around 5 degrees atop the High Knob Massif.

January 28, 2014
Long Ridge of Tennessee Valley Divide
Waiting On Better Weather Amid An Arctic Snow
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
The black cow is due to have a calf soon.  Even though the calf will be black, we are thinking of a name like "Snowflake","Snowball" or "Blizzard".

A general 2" to 5" of snow accumulated during 
this event, varying from just under 2" in lower elevations of the Russell Fork & Levisa Fork basins ( where air was driest ) to 3-5" in Lee, Wise, and Scott counties into portions of the Great Valley of northern Tennessee ( where it was their biggest snow of the season to date in many places ).

High Knob Massif
January 29, 2014 at 12:18 PM
Road Conditions In High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved.

The heaviest snow fell along and southeast of the Virginia-Kentucky stateline, with NASA visible imagery showing the distribution well with 
clearing skies into January 29.

January 29, 2014
NASA Visible Images

Click consecutively on images for motion

NASA Visible Image At 8:32 AM January 29, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 8:45 AM January 29, 2014

Counties Overlay For Reference
NASA Visible Image At 8:45 AM January 29, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:02 AM January 29, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:15 AM January 29, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:45 AM January 29, 2014

Illustration of High Knob Massif Location
NASA Visible Image At 9:45 AM January 29, 2014

NASA Visible Image At 9:45 AM January 29, 2014

Clearing skies set the stage for the coldest
temps of Winter 2013-14 into January 29-30.

( Reference The Following Section For Details )
Domain of The COLD Places & January 2014 Stats

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