Friday, July 4, 2014

Gorgeous Independence Day In Appalachians


July 2014
Boggs Hill In Wise County, Virginia
Majestic July Sunset Upon The Cumberlands
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.


Simply gorgeous weather graced the mountain landscape during Independence Day 2014, with 
dry air and breezy to gusty northerly winds 
creating seasonally cool conditions.

July 4, 2014 at 2:30 PM
CAM Elevation 2600 feet
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Morning wind chills were even felt, with lower-middle 40s observed atop the High Knob Massif and Black Mountain on N-NE wind gusts as an indirect effect of a horizontal pressure gradient generated in wake of Hurricane Arthur.

Elevation 4031 feet
Black Mountain Mesonet Station
Wind Chill Factor of 44 degrees at 7:45 AM

Analysis At 8:00 AM on July 4, 2014
European Model 850 MB Wind Field

Hurricane Arthur was the first CAT 2 to make landfall in the USA since 2008 and appears to be the first hurricane to ever make landfall on Independence Day in the United States
( at least since modern record keeping began ).

July 3, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Hurricane Arthur Along The SE USA Coast
Earth Observatory

Due to mixing with winds and upslope clouds temperature differences between colder ridge tops and mountain valleys were limited into morning hours of July 4, with upper 40s to lower 50s MINS in the High Knob Massif area ( e.g., 52 degrees in City of Norton ).

Observed Record MINS

July 4
45 degrees in Wise ( 1961 )
40 degrees in Burkes Garden ( 1930 )

July 5
42 degrees in Wise ( 1963 )
36 degrees in Burkes Garden ( 1963 )

The chilliest air will be felt amid higher mountain valleys into morning hours of July 5, with potential for upper 30s to lower 40s in coldest locations 
( just above record minimums set in July 1963 ).


( Updated July 5, 2014 )
High Mountain Valleys
Chilly Morning Conditions July 5

July 5, 2014 at 1:15 PM
CAM Elevation 2600 feet
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Pristine conditions for July were experienced with clear skies, light winds, and low dewpoint air to create a simply perfect cold air drainage & radiational cooling setting for mountain valleys.

Highlands of the Appalachians were graced by a taste of autumn amid mid-summer into morning hours of July 5 with upper 30s in coldest valleys of the High Knob Massif to Burkes Garden corridor.

The official MIN of 38 degrees in Burkes Garden being only
2 degrees above the 36 degree record low for this date
established during July 1963.

Cooler valleys below 2700 to 3000 feet 
had MINS in the lower-middle 40s.

I have done extensive work both in the field 
and on this website to highlight some of 
these "cold" places.

Domain Of The Cold Places - January 2014

( Satellite Images of High Knob Massif )
Early Autumn Color Changes In 2012

The beauty of these places, of course, could not be properly communicated without the help of all my photographer friends who have contributed to this effort over the years.

Roddy Addington
Bill Harris
Wayne & Genevie Riner
Harold L. Jerrell
Richard Kretz
Alan Cressler
Darlene Fields
Steve Blankenbecler
Otis Ward
Johnny Stanley
Grant Stanley
Becky Lagow

and many others.

July 1, 2014
Mountain Chorus Frog ( Pseudacris brachyphona )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

( Updated July 1, 2014 )
Monthly Precipitation Totals
Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif
Observer: Gary Hampton & Staff of Big Stone Gap WP
Elevation 3120 feet

January: 4.68"

February: 6.16"

March: 5.35"

April: 3.54"

May: 3.59"

June: 5.07"
( -1.03" below 6-year June average )

2014 Total: 28.39" ( M )*
  ( January 1 to June 30, 2014 )

 -7.60" below the January-June average
 observed during the 2008-2013 period

*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 30.00" 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 ).

Wetter places in the High Knob Massif had 30.00" to 35.00" of precipitation during the January-June period of 2014 ( below average ).

Despite being -7.60" below the average of the past 
6 years, the Big Cherry Dam tally during the first 6 months of 2014 is significantly more than reported in most other places across southwestern Virginia.

Precipitation Totals
January-June 2014

Richlands WTP: 15.19"

Bluefield ( WV ): 15.26"

Galax WTP: 15.29"

Tri-Cities ( TN ): 15.58"

Radford 3 N: 15.64"

Abingdon 3 S: 15.88"

Kingsport ( TN ): 16.44"

Wytheville 1 S: 16.96"

Burkes Garden: 17.14"

Blacksburg: 17.90"

Saltville 1 N: 18.50"

Marion 4.4 WSW: 18.74"

Lebanon: 19.55"

Grundy: 19.87"

Nora 4 SSE: 20.94"

Fort Blackmore 4 SE: 22.14"

Coeburn Filter Plant: 22.48"

Big Stone Gap WP: 23.22"

Clintwood 1 W: 23.58"

City of Norton WP: 24.70"

Appalachia Lake WP: 25.21"

The 28.39" total at Big Cherry Dam is estimated to have been around 30.00" if it had been possible to measure by hand daily, like at all other sites listed above, with other rain gauges and Doppler radar showing the most precipitation having fallen from mid-upper portions of Big Cherry Lake basin east to northeast into the Bark Camp Lake basin.

Big Cherry Lake continued to overflow at the end of June despite the relatively significant year to date deficit at Big Cherry Dam ( with heavier rains in the mid-upper basin aiding runoff during the May-June 2014 period ).

July 1, 2014
Mountain Chorus Frog Pseudacris brachyphona )
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Reference Harless Greear's flight cam video over the High Knob peak and Little Mountain Knob for a view of the head of Big Cherry Lake Basin, which had more rain than Big Cherry Dam in May-June.

May 16, 2014
Harless Greear Flight CAM Video


A brief description of the flight can be found here:
Changing Views Of The High Knob Landform

Blackberry Winter - Chilly Spell In May 2014


State Of The Year
January-June Moisture Status

The area is officially classified as being in drought, varying from abnormally dry to moderate on the July 1 release of the USA Drought Monitor.

As of July 1, 2014
USA Drought Monitor - State of Virginia

As of July 1, 2014
USA Drought Monitor - State of Kentucky

As of July 1, 2014
USA Drought Monitor - State of Tennessee

As of July 1, 2014
USA Drought Monitor - State of North Carolina

January-June deficits of -6.28" at the City of Norton Water Plant ( verses past 31 years ) and -7.60" at Big Cherry Dam ( verses past 6 years ) are significant, relative to their averages, even though this area continues to lead southwestern Virginia 
in total precipitation received so far in 2014.

The USA Drought Monitor is relatively large-scale and can not  account for local variations associated with hit-miss summer rains.

A much better; although, still not perfect, index 
for looking at the moisture state is found in the Vegetation Drought Response Index ( VDRI ) which uses satellite based observations along with climate data and geomorphological characteristics to generate a more localized assessment of drought.

Southwestern Virginia - June 30, 2014
Vegetation Drought Response Index

The Coeburn side of the High Knob Massif had above average June rainfall, while below average rainfall was observed from the City of Norton and Big Cherry Dam southwest to the Duffield Valley.  The magnitude of these local differences are still not fully reflected by the VDRI, however, since enough rain fell to prevent true drought stress and to keep Big Cherry Lake overflowing the VDRI is a much better representation of current conditions in most of the High Knob Massif area ( ** ).  

Eastern Tennessee - June 30, 2014

Western North Carolina - June 30, 2014

**It should be noted that an extreme to exceptional drought year in the High Knob Massif is defined as one which produces less than 50.00" of total precipitation.  The drought year of 2007, driest on record, generated 40.00" to 45.00" on northern-eastern sections of the massif and 45.00" to 50.00" along the main crest zone from Eagle Knob southwest across Big Cherry Lake to Maple Gap.


Orographic Cap Clouds
Aid Healthy July Rain Event

July 8, 2014 at 6:54 PM
CAM Elevation 2600 feet
Orographic Clouds Capping Massif
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Orographically forced cloud formations capping 
the high country of the High Knob Landform, especially its remnant massif, are common 
features of the cold season ( * ).

*The orographic forcing season typically extends from October
to May when synoptic-scale storm systems generate pressure gradients that drive air flows upslope across the High Knob Massif to form persistent clouds which cap and engulf its high country
( enhancing rainfall, snowfall, and rime formations ).

To see long-lived cap clouds during mid-summer is not as common, especially when they are driven by pressure gradient winds ( and not a product of rain cooled air from thunderstorms ).

High Knob Massif Area
Head of Big Cherry Lake to Guest River Gorge
Doppler Rainfall Estimate - July 8-9, 2014

Doppler radar tended to under-estimate rainfall in this area,
likely due to both the orographic seeder-feeder process and
to the torrential nature of downpours.

Head of Big Cherry Basin to Little Stony Basin
Doppler Rainfall Estimate for July 8-9, 2014

A general 1.50" to 2.50"+ of rain fell from the head 
of Big Cherry Lake basin east along the Wise-Scott border to Guest River Gorge and the Clinch River Valley near the Town of St. Paul.

Cumberland Gap NHP to Powell River Valley
Doppler Rainfall Estimate for July 8-9, 2014

Photographer Harold L. Jerrell reported 3.29" of
rain at his home southeast of Rose Hill in Lee County.

The heaviest area of rainfall in the High Knob Landform set up with more typical training and back-building storms across western Lee County, Va., and northern portions of Claiborne & Hancock counties, Tn., where locally 3.00"+ of rain fell.

Capping orographic clouds are also common across the
high country of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
( NHP ), especially in the Bailes Meadow-Hensley Flats
and White Rocks corridor.


High Knob Massif Area
Reported Rainfall Totals
July 8-10, 2014

City of Norton WP: 0.69"

Little Stone Mountain VDOT: 0.92"

Lower Norton Reservoir: 1.01"

Big Cherry Dam: 1.27"

Upper Norton Reservoir: 1.73"

Robinson Knob: 3.12"


High Knob Massif Webcam
Sample Period: Orographic Cap Clouds
July 8, 2014

All High Knob Massif Webcam images are original frames of live conditions.  None have been altered in any way.

  Click consecutively on frames for motion in picture viewer
   ( Use Keyboard Arrows For Faster Time Lapse Motion )

These pilatus or cap clouds are not static, but instead are dynamic with continuous formation and reformation over time that features changes in shape, vertical thickness, and other parameters associated with forced lifting, cooling, and condensation of air into an ever changing surrounding enviornment.

July 8, 2014 at 5:12 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:15 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:16 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:16 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:17 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:18 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:18 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:19 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:21 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 5:24 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Advancing 79 minutes in time.

July 8, 2014 at 6:43 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:43 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:45 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:46 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:47 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:47 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:54 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:55 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:56 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:57 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:57 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:58 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:59 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 6:59 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

Advancing 76 minutes in time.

July 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

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

July 8, 2014 at 8:31 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 8:32 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 8:34 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 8:36 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

July 8, 2014 at 8:39 PM
Looking Toward The High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

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