Monday, June 5, 2017

Early Summer 2017 In The Appalachians


June 3, 2017
Valley Floor Elevation 3187 feet
Early Summer In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A gorgeous start to summer in the high country was enjoyed during June 3, with morning temperatures dipping to around 40 degrees in high mountain valleys of the High Knob Massif.

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June 3, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Early Summer In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The June 1-4 period featured an average nightly minimum of 42.8 degrees within colder sections 
of the Big Cherry Wetland Valley.

Early June nights have been cooler than the 
second half of May, which skewed the final month of spring to boost average minimum temperatures upward into the middle 40s.

Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4
May 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 3187 Feet Above Sea Level

Average Daily MAX: 67.5 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 46.0 degrees
MEAN: 56.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 80 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 29 degrees

A few trees continue to leaf out, but most are now approaching summer green following some 10.00" of rainfall during May ( 26.00" in Spring 2017 ).

June 3, 2017
Lush Ferns & Vegetation
Early Summer In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Spring 2017 featured 84 degrees of spread between the lowest and highest temperatures recorded in the wetland valleys, from a minimum of 0 degrees on the morning of March 16 to a maximum of 
84 degrees during the afternoon of April 29.

June 3, 2017
Early Summer In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4
Spring 2017 Temperatures
( March 2017 Through May 2017 )

Average Daily MAX: 61.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 37.3 degrees
MEAN: 49.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 84 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 0 degrees

June 3, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Early Summer In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 3, 2017
Early Summer In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 3, 2017
Early Summer In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

June 3, 2017
Early Summer In High Knob Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This section is under construction.  Please check back.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Late Spring 2017 In The Appalachians


May 3, 2017
Valley Floor Elevation 3187 Feet
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Majestic Day In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Phil Shelton ( professor emeritus of UVA-Wise ), Jerry Rose ( Virginia Master Naturalist ) and I hiked part of the main wetland valley on this gorgeous day in early May.

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Although more freezing nights are upcoming in the high country, the second half of April found spring emergence accelerate within the upper elevations.

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Mother Log On Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The coldest recent nights upon 
the wetland valley floor included:

37 degrees on April 26

41 degrees on April 28

38 degrees on May 3

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4
April 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 3187 Feet Above Sea Level

Average Daily MAX: 64.5 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 39.9 degrees
MEAN: 52.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 84 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 25 degrees

Mean low temperatures for the month of April came in just under 40 degrees within colder portions of the wetland valleys.

These high valleys continue to generate the coldest nocturnal temperatures in western Virginia, with consistent decoupling and inversion formation supporting cold air drainage-pooling.

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The April 1 to May 1 period produced around 11.00" of total precipitation within upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, including accumulating snow.

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Northern Hardwoods Ecosystem

Spring Wildflowers

The largest distribution of Canada Mayflower 
( Maianthemum canadense ) I have ever seen in the Cumberland Mountains is just beginning to bloom in northern woods along the Big Cherry Wetland Valley, along with extensive Halberd-leaved Violets ( Viola hastata ), Painted Trilliums 
( Trillium undulatum ) and very small Anemones 
( Anemone quinquefolia ).

A few other species include:

Long-spurred Violet
( Viola rostrata )

Wild Geranium
( Geranium spp. )

Foamflower
( Tiarella cordifolia )

Mayapple
( Podophyllum peltatum )

Golden Ragwort
( Packera spp. )

Wood-betony
( Pedicularis canadensis )

and many more species which are just 
coming up or have not yet started.

May 3, 2017
Valley Floor Elevation 3187 Feet
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The forest understory along the valley is full of 
Vaccinium species along with American Beech 
( Fagus grandifolia ) and Striped Maple 
( Acer pensylvanicum ).

Fern Species

Large clumps of Cinnamon Fern fiddleheads are 
emerging along with many other species such as:

May 3, 2017
Fiddle Heads In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Cinnamon Ferns ( Osmundastrum cinnamomeum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Evergreen Wood or Fancy Fern
( Dryopteris intermedia )

New York Fern
( Parathelypteris noveboracensis )

Hay-scented Fern
Dennstaedtia punctilobula )

Sensitive Fern
Onoclea sensibilis )

Christmas Fern
( Polystichum acrostichoides )

We look forward to identifying many more species as this UVA-Wise microclimatology-biodiversity field research project continues through coming months and years.

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Bird Species

Even if it were not visible that we were within a Northern Hardwoods ecosystem, the sound of singing Magnolia Warblers ( Setophaga magnolia ) heard all along the valley would indicate a northern setting.  Dr. Phil Shelton positively identified the birds with his binocular.

Magnolia Warblers have just recently returned to the high country, as during my April 15 hike down the wetland valley I did not hear any singing.

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Another recent return, which we also heard 
and positively identified by sight, has been Rose-breasted Grosbeaks ( Pheucticus ludovicianus ).  They were also abundant along the valley and at higher elevations within the basin.

A few other bird species identified included:

Tufted Titmouse 
( Baeolophus bicolor )

Red-shouldered Hawk
( Buteo lineatus )

Blue Jay
( Cyanocitta cristata )

Gray Catbird
( Dumetella carolinensis )

Least Flycatcher
( Empidonax minimus )

*Dark-eyed Junco
( Junco hyemalis )

Song Sparrow
( Melospiza melodia )

Black-and-white Warbler
( Mniotilta varia )

Louisiana Waterthrush 
( Parkesia motacilla )

Black-capped Chickadee 
( Poecile atricapillus )

Carolina Chickadee
( Poecile carolinensis )

Eastern or Rufous-sided Towhee
( Pipilo erythrophthalmus )

Ovenbird
Seiurus aurocapilla  )

Black-throated Blue Warbler
( Setophaga caerulescens )

Hooded Warbler
( Setophaga citrina )

Chestnut-sided Warbler
( Setophaga pensylvanica )

Yellow Warbler 
( Setophaga petechia )

American Goldfinch
( Spinus tristis

Barred Owl
( Strix varia )

Carolina Wren
( Thryothorus ludovicianus )

American Robin
( Turdus migratorius )

Blue-headed Vireo
( Vireo solitarius )

*Likely the most abundant year-round resident in upper elevations.

Many more bird species will be identified as the breeding season continues to unfold through coming weeks.

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 3, 2017
Spring Comes To The High Country
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Snow And Frosty Cold

These gorgeous spring days were broken by snow that poured down at the summit level of the High Knob Massif during May 6, with wind chills dipping as low as the 10s.

May 8, 2017
More Beautiful Skies
Valley Floor Elevation of 3187 Feet
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The coldest conditions in high valleys occurred into morning hours of May 8 with 29 degrees recorded in the Big Cherry Wetland Valley.

May 8, 2017
More Beautiful Skies
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

An average MIN of 38.4 degrees was observed at colder locations in the Big Cherry Wetland Valley during the May 1-9 period.  This was colder than recorded during the month of April.

May 8, 2017
Late Spring Conditions
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
More Beautiful Skies
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
Late Spring Conditions
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
More Beautiful Skies
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
Late Spring Conditions
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
More Beautiful Skies
Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley Floor
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Big Cherry Lake

May 8, 2017
Water Elevation 3120 Feet
Approaching Sunset At Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Some more bird species observed included:

Cedar Waxwing 
( Bombycilla cedrorum )

Broad-winged Hawk 
( Buteo platypterus )

Pileated Woodpecker 
( Hylatomus pileatus )

Indigo Bunting 
( Passerina cyanea )

Black-throated Green Warbler 
( Setophaga virens )

White-breasted Nuthatch 
( Sitta carolinensis )

Field Sparrow 
( Spizella pusilla )

May 8, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
Approaching Sunset
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
High Knob Massif
Whitewater In South Fork Gorge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
South Fork Gorge
Canada Violet ( Viola canadensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 8, 2017
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Backside of Canada Violet Viola canadensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved



Whitewater Gushes

May 13, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Whitewater was gushing out of Big Cherry Lake basin following the latest significant fall of rain.

May 13, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

With a general 12.00" to 14.00" of rain since April 1 it is not hard to get the whitewater churning.

May 13, 2017
Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Late Spring Day In Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 13, 2017
Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Late Spring Day In Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 13, 2017
Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Late Spring Day In Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 13, 2017
Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Late Spring Day In Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Drying air and bright skies during the afternoon 
set the stage for a chilly night, with temperatures dropping into the 30s up in the high country 
within Big Cherry Lake basin ( * ).

*On the other side of these rugged crest lines.

May 13, 2017
Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Late Spring Day In Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 13, 2017
Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Late Spring Day In Powell Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Cultivated Spring Flowers

May 11, 2017
Reddish-Pink Peony ( Paeonia spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 16, 2017
Knockout Rose - John & Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 16, 2017
Cultivated Rhododendrons
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 16, 2017
Cultivated Rhododendrons
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 16, 2017
Cultivated Rhododendrons
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 16, 2017
Cultivated Rhododendrons
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2017
Stringy Stonecrop ( Sedum sarmentosum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2017
Hoverfly ( Syrphidae ) On Stringy Stonecrop
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Wet Spring 2017

May 26, 2017
South Fork Gorge
Majestic Early Evening Light
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A wet spring season during 2017 has made it difficult to cut hay grass and to even keep up 
with regular mowing.

May 26, 2017
East Stone Gap In Powell Valley
Hay Grass Getting Past Prime
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

May 26, 2017
Brief Break In Wet Spring Pattern
Head of Powell Valley of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Antecedent wetness set the stage for flooding rains during May, with flash flooding recently occurring in the Town of Clintwood and within East Stone Gap & Cracker Neck of Powell Valley.

May 28, 2017
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Gush Of Whitewater Following Flooding Rain
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

More than 3.00" of rain fell at Big Cherry Dam during May 27 to push the monthly rainfall total up to 10.00" and the April-May tally to around 16.00" ( 26.00" in Spring 2017 ).

I measured 8.15" of rain at Big Cherry Dam for the May 9-27 period ( nearly 2.00" fell prior to May 9 ).  The month of April generated around 9.00" at Big Cherry Dam, with a general 8.00" to 10.00" in the City of Norton to Big Cherry Dam corridor of the massif during April.

May 28, 2017
High Knob Massif
Upper Gorge of South Fork Powell River
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A general 35.00" to 40.00" of total precipitation has fallen in upper elevations of the High Knob Massif so far during 2017.  That comes on the heels of 12.00" to 16.00" which fell during the November 28-December 31 period, to make a general 47.00" to 56.00" during the past 6 months. 

( Around 51.00" to 52.00" in the past 6 months on average ).

May 28, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
A Southern Exposure With Rattlesnakes
Diverse & Majestic Slope Near Big Cherry Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

An interesting mixture of species is typical in 
this wettest area of Virginia, with a vast carpet 
of mosses and lichens growing beneath both Mountain Laurel ( Kalmia latifolia ) & Rosebay Rhodendendron ( Rhododendron maximum ).  Ferns are prolific and widespread in this area. 

Yellow Buckeye
Aesculus flava )

Yellow Birch
Betula alleghaniensis )

Tulip-poplar
Liriodendron tulipifera )

American Beech
( Fagus grandifolia )

are common, along with many other species, near
 the Big Stone Gap Water Plant in South Fork Gorge.

May 28, 2017
Big Cherry Lake of High Knob Massif
Mountain Laurel ( Kalmia latifolia )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This section is under construction.  Please check back.