Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First Month of Meteorological Spring


March 1, 2014
Letcher County, Kentucky
Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
Bad Branch Falls - Pine Mountain
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.


Photographers Roddy Addington & Bill Harris started this first month of meteorological spring 
off in style with a hike to scenic Bad Branch Falls, nestled in the rocky gorge of pristine Bad Branch State Nature Preserve located adjacent to the Virginia-Kentucky border in Letcher County.

March 1, 2014
Upper Cumberland River Basin
Icy Rocks At Beautiful Bad Branch Falls
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


The first significant winter storm of March would deposit a packed layer of sleet and snow on this majestic and ecologically important section of 
Pine Mountain a couple days later.


March 1, 2014
Pine Mountain of the Cumberland Overthrust Block
Spray Ice In Bad Branch Gorge of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Bad Branch State Nature Preserve - The Nature Conservancy

This marked only the first of numerous wintry events as the Ole Man refused to allow more than teases of the spring season which must come.


Climate Statistics
March 1-15 Temperatures

( Lower Elevations of Russell Fork Basin )
Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 52.6 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 21.9 degrees
March 1-15 MEAN: 37.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 71 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 10 degrees

( Northern Base of High Knob Massif )
City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
*Average Daily MAX: 49.8 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 20.9 degrees
March 1-15 MEAN: 35.4 degrees
Highest Temperature: 67 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 7 degrees

( Along the Tennessee Valley Divide )
Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 49.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 27.2 degrees
March 1-15 MEAN: 38.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 65 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 9 degrees

*Average Daily MAX: 48.6 degrees
at the City of Norton Water Plant
( highest temp reached 65 degrees )

The infamously fickle reputation of March showed itself with wild fluctuations between spring warmth and mid-winter cold during March 1-15.

March 1, 2014
Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
Rugged Hemlock Gorge of Bad Branch
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

The opening of March this year, and the 
cold season as a whole, have actually not been 
as wet as that observed last winter in the 
High Knob Landform.

Rime Forest Opens March 2013 - Winter Statistics

Meteorological Winter 2013-14


( Updated March 17, 2014 )
Monthly Precipitation Totals
Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif
Observer: Gary Hampton & Staff of Big Stone Gap WP

December: 8.38"

January: 4.68"

February: 6.16"

December-February: 19.22" ( M )
( Meteorological Winter 2013-14 )

March 1-17: 2.90"

2014 Total: 13.74" ( M )
( January 1 to March 17, 2014 )

3.5 Month Total: 22.12" ( M )*
( Since December 1, 2013 )

14.5 Month Total: 88.12" ( M )**
( Since January 1, 2013 )

 *The NWS rain gauge busted due to extreme coldness in January with the late January-February total being partially based upon an automated IFLOWS rain gauge at the Dam ( with missing data ).

 **Actual total is estimated to be around 93.00" with missing moisture in snow too deep for the rain gauge to physically contain and between hand-measurements at the Dam throughout the year ( averaging 1 measurement per week ).

Water Equivalent Precipitation Totals
Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif
Meteorological Winter
December-February Periods

2007-08
16.50"

2008-09
22.08"

2009-10
22.00"

2010-11
16.39"

2011-12
17.23"

2012-13
21.11"

2013-14
19.22"

6-Season MEAN: 19.67" ( M )
( 2008-09 thru 2013-14 after 2007 drought )

7-Season MEAN: 19.22" ( M )
( Including first winter of NWS gauge readings )

Mean Per Month: 6.41" ( M )
( 2007-08 thru 2013-14 )#

Every season has missing data due predominately to the significant snowfall that is part of the climatic regime of the
High Knob Massif, as well as rain gauge undercatches forced by wind ( significant secondary moisture sources of rime deposition on trees and fog drip from trees are not collected by rain gauges ) and evaporation between hand-measurements.

#The mean per month was 3.93" at TRI ( Tri-Cities )
and 4.05" in Burkes Garden during this same period.

Differences between the precipitation regimes of Big Cherry Dam and Burkes Garden have already been highlighted on this website ( reference the climate section in The High Knob Landform ); however, it is interesting to note that MAX precipitation totals at Big Cherry Dam in the past 7 winter seasons have already topped the highest amounts observed for each month of meteorological winter in Burkes Garden during the past 106-107 years.  Amazing!

Burkes Garden has wind induced rain gauge undercatches on its 8"-diameter NWS rain gauge that is read daily, but otherwise should have less loss than Big Cherry Dam where a 4"-diameter NWS rain gauge is read once a week and can often not hold all
the snow that falls ( both sites are near the same elevation ).


Seasonal Snowfall Comparison
2012-13 verses 2013-14
( Up To March 15 )

A comparison up to this point in time ( March 15 ) between last winter and this winter is interesting, 
to say the least, given the significantly colder conditions experienced this season.

December 22, 2012
Jefferson National Forest
High Knob Massif Crest Zone
Majestic High Knob Lake Basin
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Snowfall Totals Up To March 15

( Lower Elevations below 2000 feet )
Clintwood 1 W 
34.9" in 2012-13
49.9" in 2013-14

( Middle Elevations between 2000-3000 feet )
City of Norton
55.3" in 2012-13
50.4" in 2013-14

Nora 4 SSE
50.5" in 2012-13
43.3" in 2013-14

( Upper Elevations above 3000 feet )
High Chaparral
76.5" in 2012-13
66.1" in 2013-14

Eagle Knob
111.5" in 2012-13
91.5" in 2013-14

A rather unexpected result finds less snow having fallen up to this point in the 2013-14 winter season than last season across mid-upper elevations, while significantly more snow has been observed in lower elevations below 2000 feet ( a local reflection of a much larger-scale trend that stretches west and northwest from the Appalachians across the 
Ohio Valley, Midwest, and Great Lakes ).

It will actually take another "good" snow or two to boost totals in mid-upper elevations UP to seasonal averages, in order to prevent 2013-14 from ending with below average snowfall totals amid the higher terrain of the 
High Knob Massif - Tennessee Valley Divide area.

It should, of course, be noted that a little storm named SANDY got the 2012-13 snow season 
off to a big start in higher elevations!

A Superstorm Named Sandy
Historic Winter Storm Of October 2012

Although Sandy produced the biggest snow of the 2012-13 season, a 12"-18" fall was observed during the March 24-27 period, above 3000 feet, in the High Knob Massif to close out March 2013.

March 2013 - Colder & Snowier Than Average


( March 16-18, 2014 )
Prolonged Upslope Event
26-Hours With Dense Fog
( No Advisories or Specific Statements )

A prolonged period of upslope flow with N-ENE winds dropped cloud bases down to around 2000 feet across Wise & Dickenson counties from late March 16 into the overnight hours of March 18, producing 26 hours with visibility of 0.25 mile 
or LESS across hundreds of square miles and 
impacting tens of thousands of residents 
( no Advisories were issued ).

This was not an isolated event, localized 
to Lonesome Pine Airport, but instead impacted ridge, plateau and mid-upper elevation communities across 
Dickenson & Wise counties.

Lonesome Pine Airport Observations
March 16 at 6:35 PM to March 18 at 3:15 AM







METAR - RAW Observations
( Note Some Duplications )


1/4SM FG = 0.25 mile visibility in fog
M1/4SM FG = Less than 0.25 mile visibility
( UP = unidentified precipitation types )





High Knob Massif Webcam
Documentation of Dense Fog

NOTE: Webcam time has not yet been moved forward
1-hour ( The correct time is noted above each image )

 Click consecutively on images in viewer for motion
   ( Using Keyboard Arrow Keys May Be Easier )

March 17, 2014 at 12:25 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 1:02 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Only a brief increase in visibility during early afternoon allowed for viewing of icing on trees, 
as temperatures hovered around freezing. 

Mostly this was a dense fog episode and not a freezing fog event; although, intervals of freezing rain, drizzle, and fog occurred in mid-upper elevations at times during this winter storm period.

March 17, 2014 at 1:22 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 1:38 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 1:44 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 2:18 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 3:02 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 3:21 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 3:46 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 4:16 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

As sunset arrived on March 17 visibility became so low that it was hard for motorists to see, in fact, it became extremely dangerous and remained that way for hours before a wind shift to the SE finally allowed bases to rise off all but windward slopes of the High Knob Massif ( where such periods, amid the clouds, are more common at upper elevations ).

March 17, 2014 at 8:55 PM
 Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Time On The Main Campus CAM Is Correct

March 17, 2014 at 8:57 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 9:05 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 9:32 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 9:51 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 10:38 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 10:47 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 10:52 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 11:03 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 17, 2014 at 11:46 PM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 18, 2014 at 12:07 AM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 18, 2014 at 12:25 AM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 18, 2014 at 12:46 AM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 18, 2014 at 1:24 AM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 18, 2014 at 1:37 AM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 18, 2014 at 1:51 AM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

March 18, 2014 at 2:51 AM
 The Main Campus Of UVA-Wise
University of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

When air flow has any northerly component the fundamental principle at work is based upon there being no higher elevations between the High Knob Massif - Tennessee Valley Divide and the 
Great Lakes & Canada.

( Sample Section - See LARGE Map )
From The High Knob Massif to Great Lakes


This has huge implications with respect to cold season snowfall, ice, riming, in addition to low cloud bases and dense periods of fog and freezing fog.

Hundreds of Square Miles Above 2000 Feet

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