Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Beauty Of Winter Amid The High Knob Massif


January 31, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Winter Beauty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Pristine beauty was on majestic display in Benges Basin of the High Knob Massif on this final day of January 2016.




January 31, 2016
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Reflections of Light Upon Ice & Water
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Run-off from a melting snowpack was just enough to spread a film of water over top of a shield of ice that covered the entire lake, enhancing reflections of trees, sky, and clouds.

January 31, 2016
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Reflections of Light Upon Ice & Water
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The only fault to this day, ROARING SW Winds.  Gusts of 30-50+ mph made it sound like a JET had landed atop the massif.  As later shown, this made for some nasty summit level conditions.

January 31, 2016
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Debris On Lake From ROARING SW Winds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Yellow Birch ( Betula alleghaniensis ) trees are among my favorite, so I was in hog heaven with the afternoon light, snow and icy lake reflections in these scenes ( I show only a few of many I took ).

January 31, 2016
Water Elevation 3318 feet
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Yellow Birch Trees & Reflections Upon Ice
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

My friend-photographer Roddy Addington and I had arrived here by chance, as we had initially started to leave the summit along Route 238 past High Knob Lake toward High Chaparral but the road became snow-ice packed, so we decided to turn around and return by State Route 619.

January 31, 2016
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Yellow Birch Trees & Reflections Upon Ice
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A general 3" to 12"+ of snow depth was along the Reservoir trail, which was no guess since I had an official NWS yard stick and was measuring all along the way.

Afternoon of January 31, 2016
Powell River Watershed of Upper Tennessee Basin
Snow Along Trail Around Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This amount of snow was WAY down from big depths observed a week earlier, but remained impressive given a prolonged period of above freezing temperatures along with recent rain that featured obscuration in orographic cap clouds.

*Being in the fog of clouds, in above freezing air, is one of the most rapid ways to melt down a big snowpack during winter as mild, humid air is a much more efficient "snow eater" 
than is mild, dry air.

Afternoon of January 31, 2016
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
An Interesting Break In The Lake Ice Shield
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

One of the most interesting aspects here was the continuous bobbing up and down of the lake ice sheet in strong SW winds.  No doubt this probably contributed to an interesting crack that formed like Roddy ( a carpenter & home builder ) had used his skill-saw to cut it open!

January 31, 2016
Frozen High Knob Lake In Valley
Looking Across High Knob Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A portion of ice covered High Knob Lake can be seen near lower left center of photograph, amid the high valley with a water elevation of 3490 feet above mean sea level.  Temps out beyond this cloud deck, into the Great Valley, were MUCH warmer and had actually reached into the 60s during this final weekend of January ( by contrast, temperatures in the lower 40s, with wind chills in the 20s & 30s, were felt taking these photographs a mere 30 or so air miles to the north ).

Conditions up top had been much different into 
the early afternoon, with orographic clouds and a persistent deck that combined with ROARING SW winds to make conditions feel much colder than the sunshine at Upper Norton Reservoir ( sunshine finally made a return into mid-late afternoon ).

NASA Visible Image At Noon on January 31

A photography Note: While it might appear that I had either the wrong strength of a graduated neutral density filter in front of the lens, or held it in the wrong position, the sharp cloud line above truly existed and showed up beautifully on NASA visible imagery ( above ).

January 31, 2016
Orographic Wave Cloud Visible
Frozen Big Cherry Lake In High Valleys
Looking Across Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

If you know where to look, a tiny portion of ice covered Big Cherry Lake can be seen in this photograph ( water elevation 3120 feet above mean sea level ).  Nice orographic wave clouds were also visible in this direction as very strong SW air flow pushed across the sprawling mass of high country.

January 31, 2016
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Snow Depth Along Trail To High Knob Lookout
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Snow depths were not trivial, with widespread 
6-10" amid general 1-2+ foot drifts which were widespread ( locally up to around 3 feet ).

January 31, 2016
Peak of the High Knob Massif
Measured Snow Depth On High Knob
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Lines of deep, wind blown snow were widespread along the high ridges with depths figured to be only around a third to one-half, at very most in spots, of what they were a week earlier when roads in the main crest zone were blocked by drifts. 

January 31, 2016
Peak of the High Knob Massif
Wind Blown Lines of Deep Snow
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Nearby Route 237 into Big Cherry Lake basin remained blocked by snow drifts into January 29-30, to illustrate 
how bad conditions were in the massif.

January 31, 2016
Northern Slopes of High Knob Massif
Endemic Southern Appalachian North Woods
Snow Along Route 238 In Northern Hardwoods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The City of Norton Water Plant obtained an excellent storm total down at the base of the massif by using the official NWS method of measuring snowfall every 6-hours during this event.

City of Norton Water Plant
Andrew Greear, Caleb Ramsey, Wes Ward
Elevation 2342 feet

January 22 at 9:00 AM
4.0″

January 22 at 4:00 PM
1.8″

January 22 at 9:45 PM
6.0″

January 23 at 3:40 AM
2.0″

January 23 at 9:00 AM
2.8″

January 23 at 3:00 PM
1.5″

January 23 at 9:30 PM
1.0″

Snowfall Total: 19.1″

The water equivalent total ending at 9:00 AM on January 24 was 2.32" for this event, with 13.3" of the snow accumulation coming after winds shifted northerly at the Norton Water Plant.

*The only measurement that had to be partially estimated was the first one due to a tremendous amount of SLEET which tended to bounce off of the measuring surface.  After each measurement the surface is swept clean and made ready to collect what falls during the period until the next 6-hour measurement can be taken ( do not measure more often for the official record ).  An exception includes if snow sticks then melts, it is good to measure before it melts if possible.

Morning of January 31, 2016
Northern Base of High Knob Massif
Road Into The City of Norton Water Plant
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

I measured a general 4" to 6" of snow depth at the Water Plant during the morning before Roddy and I headed up to the summit level, some 2082 vertical feet higher than downtown Norton.

January 31, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Winter Beauty At Upper Norton Reservoir
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

How would you like to photograph in a place 
where a bear uses an electrical pole like a cat 
uses a scratching post?  

Winter 2015-16
Electrical Pole - Scratching Post For Mr. Hoss
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

If nothing else, Mr. Hoss ( don't never forget to 
call him Mr. ) will keep one on "his toes" and 
paying attention to the surroundings!

Winter 2015-16
Electrical Pole - Scratching Post For Mr. Hoss
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Recent melt of the deep snowpack combined with rain to cause water to flow out of every nook and cranny, not to mention ROAR on the many steep creek draining the High Knob Massif.

February 4, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Hemlock Spiral & Rugged Cliff Laden Woods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A few patches of snow remained in the woods 
on February 4, amazingly, after 2.00" to 3.00"+ 
of rain fell to open up the month.

February 4, 2016
Benges Branch of High Knob Massif
Yellow Birch Betula alleghaniensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Whitewater On Benges Branch of Powell River
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Beautiful whitewater was gushing on Benges Branch, way downstream from the lower 
Norton Reservoir, during February 4

February 4, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Whitewater On Benges Branch of Powell River
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2015
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Rugged Cliff Laden Mesophytic Woods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Waterfall Over Colorful Rock Outcrop
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Whitewater On Tributary of Robinette Branch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Whitewater On Tributary of Robinette Branch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Whitewater On Tributary of Robinette Branch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2015
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Rugged Cliff Laden Mesophytic Woods
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
City of Norton Watershed
Waterfall Over A Weir Dam On Benges Branch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
City of Norton Watershed
Waterfall Over A Weir Dam On Benges Branch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
City of Norton Watershed
Waterfall Over A Weir Dam On Benges Branch
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 4, 2016
High Knob Massif
Beautiful Setting In Benges Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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