Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wet December 2015 About To Turn Wetter


December 17, 2015
Water Elevation 3120 feet
Big Cherry Lake Amid Orographic Clouds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The High Knob Landform

The High Knob Landform WebCite Permalink

The Appalachian Climate Center

A wet December 2015 is poised to turn wetter heading into the weeks of Christmas & New Year's, with potential for too much rainfall across parts of the region ( Ohio and Tennessee River basins ).

It's warm.  It's warm.  It is WARM.  
Oh, did I say it is WARM!!!  

That is the redundant hype.  The real message; however, in this type of weather pattern is to BEWARE of waves of rain & even thunderstorms 
( some strong to potentially severe ) which could eventually cause too much rain to fall.  A more important message that needs to be gotten out to the public than it's warm ( which is not as likely 
to threaten or kill anyone ).  Everyone knows it is warm and some records may fall in coming days 
( dependent upon clouds and the timing 
of waves of rainfall ).

Let's get real forecasters and 
recognize the pattern at hand.

*A pattern that is in climatological support of heavy to excessive rainfall, especially for orographic forcing zones along the southern Appalachians and sites west of the mountains across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys.

I gave a presentation at UVA-Wise in late November that outlined the mean climatological wind flow pattern that makes the High Knob Massif area the wettest in Virginia.  During the next 7-10 days the majority of that time is being forecast by models to follow mean trajectories with moderate-strong orographic forcing and atypically deep ( abundant ) moisture for this time of year ( a key factor ).

Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey, of WKYT-TV in Lexington, Ky., is the only regional media forecaster that I have seen to correctly ( in my opinion ) jump on this pattern in advance.  Eventually, many more forecaster's will be forced to join and focus on the real message.

A shift toward more wintry conditions looks to finally develop into the eastern USA as this new year and month of January 2016 begins.  Stay tuned to see if this actually develops, and can become sustained, as much rain potentially falls during December 23-31 ( a period that looks destined to be remembered for more than just its warmth ).

December 17, 2015
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Big Cherry Lake Up In Orographic Clouds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A total of 1.52" of rainfall was measured at 
Big Cherry Dam in wake of the latest storm system which uncharacteristically, for December 2015, was followed by a blast of cold air and light snow-rime.

This included the first sub-zero wind chill factors
into December 18-19 and some bitter cold high valley
temperatures into morning hours of December 20.

December 17, 2015
Upper South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Light Illuminates Clouds Across Upper Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Whitewater was very nice and echoing 
through the gorge from this viewing area.

December 17, 2015
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Rugged Upper Gorge of South Fork of Powell
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Chilly winds and dropping cloud bases obscured much of the high country in the High Knob Massif on upsloping northerly winds through afternoon hours of December 17.

December 17, 2015
Big Cherry Lake Up In Orographic Clouds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 17, 2015
Low Clouds Spread Across Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Lake has much greenery and the look of
a northern lake set amid the southern Appalachians.

December 17, 2015
Low Clouds Spread Across Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 17, 2015
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Interesting Scene On Fog Shrouded Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 17, 2015
Water Reflections On Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Whitewater draining Big Cherry Lake was very nice and silky amid the low light ( darkness ) just prior to sunset.

December 17, 2015
Whitewater & Big Ledges In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Volume was not as big as it was following the 
4.00" rains of late November-early December.

December 17, 2015
Long Time Exposures Approaching Sunset
Tumbling Whitewater In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This latest rain event pushed the 2015 total 
to around 70.00" for wetter portions of the 
High Knob Massif.

December 17, 2015
South Fork of Powell River
Tumbling Whitewater In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


A Few Early Winter Species

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Christmas Fern ( Polystichum acrostichoides )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Christmas Fern got its name from being green at the time of Christmas every year, and is one of several local fern species to have evergreen leaves.

At this time of year Christmas Ferns typically lay nearly
horizontally on the ground ( often being buried by snow )
even with a lack of snow ( as observed so far this winter ).

Christmas Ferns generally stand upright, by contrast,
during the growing season with uptake of abundant
water and nutrients.

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Christmas Fern ( Polystichum acrostichoides )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Numerous Spleenwort species also remain green into winter with this species being very pale but notable on rock outcrops.

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Spleenwort Species ( Asplenium spp. ) In Cliffs
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A few other evergreen ferns include:

Crested Wood Fern
( Dryopteris cristata )
Sterile Leaves Only

Fancy Fern
( Dryopteris intermedia )

Marginal Wood Fern
( Dryopteris marginalis )

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Striped Wintergreen ( Chimaphila maculata )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although not as colorful as during the growing season, Striped Wintergreen also retains a dull green appearance during winter.

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Striped Wintergreen ( Chimaphila maculata )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The basal leaves of Golden Ragwort 
also add greenery into the winter.

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Basal Leaves of Golden Ragwort ( Packera spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Mountain Teaberry, a favorite treat for hikers, turns a nice purplish color during winter.

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Mountain Teaberry ( Gaultheria procumbens )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Mountain Teaberry Gaultheria procumbens )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Mountain Teaberry Gaultheria procumbens )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Colorful Leaf On Forest Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Introduced Periwinkle Vine ( Vinca minor )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The introduced species known as Periwinkle is an invasive that also adds green in many places during winter ( often being covered up by snow ).

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
One Of Many Moss Species ( A Bryophyte )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Many bryophyte species, such as mosses, 
also add to winter greenery.

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Moss-Hornwort-Liverwort In Mesophytic Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Bryophytes include mosses, hornworts, and liverworts.  These are non-vascular plant species.

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Focus On Hornwort ( Anthocerotopsida ) Species
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Frullania Liverwort Species On Bark of Live Tree
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Frullania Liverwort Species On Bark of Live Tree
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 22, 2015
Fruiting Amid A Mild, Wet December
Moss Spreading Across A Rock Surface
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Haircap Moss Species ( Polytrichum spp.)
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Haircap Moss Species ( Polytrichum spp.)
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
In Nice Late Afternoon Sunlight
Haircap Moss Species ( Polytrichum spp.)
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Beautiful Cushion of Possible Dicranum Species
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Fruticose Lichen (  A Usnea Species )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Many different lichen species decorate the landscape throughout the year, being especially visible in winter with a Parmelia species ( below ) covering my favorite American Beech tree ( Fagus grandifolia ).  A tree too big to reach around!

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Growing On American Beech Tree
Foliose Lichen ( A Parmelia Species )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Fruticose Lichen (  A Usnea Species )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 22, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Growing On Decaying Cherry Birch Tree
A Polypore ( Polyporales ) Mushroom Species
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

December 24, 2015
Cumberland Mountains
Large Cavity Worked By Oak Borer Beetles
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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