Friday, February 3, 2017

Late Winter 2016-17 In High Knob Massif


February 3, 2017
Gravity Waves Above High Knob Massif
Snow Covered High Knob Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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February 3 marked a week ( 7 days ) with 1" or more 
of snow depth on the ground in High Knob Lake Basin, nothing in a typical winter but an achievement during this snow drought Winter Season of 2016-17 in the southern Appalachians.

February 3, 2017
Head of Big Stony Creek of Clinch River
Snow Covered High Knob Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although snow had melted and settled a great deal since max depths were reported on January 29-30, a general 1" to 3" remained on the ground amid many 6-10" drifts along mountain ridge lines.

February 3, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Snowy Terrain Along State Route 619
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

I took a snow core on 5.5" of snow depth and obtained a water content 
of 1.35" .  No rain or new snow accumulation had occurred since the late January snowfall, with limited rime drop from trees.  The water content may have been concentrated, but the remaining depths at this elevation and latitude suggested that initial reports of more than 8" were on target for highest elevations in the massif ( the heaviest snowfall centered upon the High Knob Lake and Big Cherry Lake basins ).

Elevation 3300 Feet
Half A Foot Of Snow Depth
Snow In High Chaparral On January 30, 2017
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

With 6.5" of total snowfall measured at 3300 feet in High Chaparral, some 4 air miles to the east + the snow core data obtained from the main crest zone nearly 1000 vertical feet higher, it is likely that storm totals were in the 8-10" range.  Depths were wind blown and variable, ranging from near bare ground to more than 2 feet ( the 6-10" on February 3 being remnants of these large drift lines which often form along high mountain ridges in the massif during winter storm and upslope events ).

February 3, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Snow Drifts In High Knob High Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Some drifts were likely a foot or more, but ones 
I measured with a yard stick were 6" to 10" deep.

February 3, 2017
Snow-Ice Packed Route 237
The Big Cherry Road Along Little Mountain
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Snow drifts often block Route 237, about 0.5 mile from this location ( above ), where air flow funnels through a high mountain pass that local residents call Davenport Gap ( a mountain gap along the southeastern rim of 
Big Cherry Lake Basin ).

February 3, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Snowy Terrain Along State Route 619
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

State Route 619 and Route 238 were mostly clear of 
ice and snow, with some icy patches remaining on the 
High Knob Lookout road ( below ).

February 3, 2017
Wind Blown Snow Across High Knob Peak
Snow Drifts & Icy Patches Along Lookout Road
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Wind chills were at and below 0 degrees atop the 
massif, simply brutal trying to take pictures for any photographer who does all their own settings manually like I do.  Numb fingers!!

*Afternoon temperatures were in the upper 10s 
and WNW winds were gusting 20-30 mph at times.

February 3, 2017
Clearing Skies Begin At Sunset
Beautiful Clouds Over The City Of Norton
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Skies began clearing just as sunset arrived with some beautiful cloud formations being visible above the City of Norton, nestled amid the northern base of the great massif.

February 3, 2017
Clearing Skies At Sunset
Beautiful Clouds Over The City Of Norton
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Clearing skies set the stage for a bitterly cold night, 
with single digits in upper elevations of the High Knob Massif prior to midnight on February 3.

The opportunity for high valleys to plunge to 0 degrees or below existed, off snow covered terrain, with decoupling and cold air drainage amid the advection of low dewpoint air.  Time would tell.

February 5, 2017
First Quater Moon Over Cumberlands
Moon Rise Through Ice Crystal Clouds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 5, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Clear View Of First Quarter Moon Rise
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Snow remained localized on the colder northern slopes in upper elevations of the High Knob Massif through February 6, as Dr. Phil Shelton and I visited High Knob Lake area during late afternoon.

No snow was visible on February 8.

February 8, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Life On Trees - A Mid-Latitude Rain Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The abundant wetness of the High Knob Massif generates so much life on trees that it is analogous in many ways to a rain or cloud forest.  In this case it is a mid-latitude rain-cloud forest since temps get cold and most winter seasons feature large amounts of snow.

February 8, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Life On Trees - A Mid-Latitude Rain Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

On this afternoon it was not hard to envision why there is so much moisture, with fog drip ( off trees ) producing orographic clouds.

February 8, 2017
Looking SW Into Big Cherry Lake Basin
Orographic Clouds Engulfing High Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This was not; however, a day like many when orographic clouds form and persist constantly with very low visibility.  This afternoon was a treat as I observed the translation, or propagation, of a low-level orographic wave with periods dominated by wind driven clouds 
( when air was rising ) separated by periods with good visibility ( when air was sinking ).

February 8, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Period With Good Visibility And Waves Aloft
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

With so many waves visible above these low-level orographic clouds, it is possible that this was coupled with a wave train aloft.  Without a mobile Doppler or profiler I can not be certain, but without question the periods of swirling clouds with low visibility were coming and going at regular intervals, separated by periods with open skies and good visibility, as would occur with the passage of low-level wave crests ( with rising air ) and wave troughs ( with sinking air ).

*These low-level waves being a small-scale inverse reflection of the long waves in the atmosphere that feature rising air on the synoptic-scale in advance of troughs and sinking air beneath the large-scale ridges. 

February 8, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
The Next Wave Of Orographic Clouds Build
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The time interval between these waves of wind driven clouds, and calm open sky periods, was approximately 20-30 minutes.

February 8, 2017
Several Distinct Cloud Layers Visible
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Several distinctive cloud layers were visible 
when the low-level orographic clouds opened,
as well as some nice lenticular cloud forms.

February 8, 2017
High Knob Massif
Stacked Lenticular Clouds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A radical temperature plunge produced 2-3" of new snow across the massif into February 9, with Darlene Fields measuring 2" of snow depth at her home while snow was still falling.

February 9, 2017
Elevation of 3300 feet
Mean Ground Depth Of 2"
Snow In The High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

The general 6" to 8"+ of snow that fell during January 29-30 took up until February 7 to melt completely away from upper elevations in the massif 
( with new snow falling February 9 ).

January 30, 2017
Elevation 3300 feet
Mean Ground Depth Of 6"
Snow Depth In The High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

By February 10 it all became about roaring SW winds.

And I do mean ROARing.

February 10, 2017
SW Winds ROAR In Cumberlands
The Full Snow Moon Of February 2017
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

It is common at this time of year, in the mountains, for this full "Snow Moon" to be shinning upon snow and a snowpack in the high country of the High Knob Massif.

This winter season, by contrast, only a light covering remains mostly on northern slopes at highest elevations in the massif, as it has not been possible to sustain snow cover for more than the recent 10 day period noted previously ( January 29-February 7 ).

A little different position and light on the waning moon
allowed craters to be a little more visible on February 13.

February 13, 2017
Waning Snow Moon With Craters Visible
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

With so much UP and Down conditions this winter season many species are trying to get a jump on spring.

February 13, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Easter Flower Buds ( Narcissus spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 13, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Tiny Bittercress Blooms ( Cardamine spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

While I was shooting a macro of these TINY blooms 
of Bittercress, a Fishing Spider came by so I took his 
( her ) picture as well.

February 13, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Dark Fishing Spider ( Dolomedes tenebrosus )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 13, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Stringy Stonecrop ( Sedum sarmentosum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Wet Snowfall of February 15

A fall of wet snow, with a general 2" to 5" above 2500 feet, coated the middle-upper elevations of Wise County, northern Scott County and southern Dickenson County into morning hours of February 15.

February 15, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Wet Snow Accumulation In High Chaparral
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

While some rime accumulated at highest elevations, 
it was a bounty of wet snow that coated trees, power lines, and everything else at mid-upper elevations.

February 15, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Accumulation In High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

This was captured beautifully by veteran snowfall 
observer Darlene Fields, at 3300 feet elevation, in the High Chaparral community of the high country surrounding High Knob.

February 15, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Accumulation In High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved


Contrasting Conditions - February 19

Damp and foggy weather greeted the morning of February 19 at upper elevations in the High Knob Massif where orographic clouds hung low into the wetland valleys of Big Cherry Lake Basin.

February 19, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Foggy Within Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The only snow remaining was in ditch lines and 
places where VDOT snow plows had piled it up.

*Snow had melted off northern slopes 
during afternoon hours of February 18.

February 19, 2017 
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Foggy Within Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Ice Man Fungus ( Fomes fomentarius
on Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis  )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although mild by High Knob Massif standards, the month of February 2017 had produced some chill with mean temperatures recorded in wetland valleys of Big Cherry Lake around 34 degrees during the Feb 1-19.

High Knob Massif Mesonet
Big Cherry Wetland Valley 3
( February 1-19, 2017 )

Average Daily MAX: 45.8 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 22.9 degrees
MEAN: 34.4 degrees

Highest Temperatures
60 degrees Feb 7 and 66 degrees Feb 12

Lowest Temperatures
6 degrees Feb 4 and 7 degrees Feb 10

February 19, 2017
Diversity of Life in Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
Diversity of Life in Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
Diversity of Life in Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
Diversity of Life in Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
Majestic Diversity of Life in High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Majestic Afternoon At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Water Reflections On High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Water Reflections Of Lake Trail Bridge
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
Elevation 3520 Feet Above Sea Level
Water Reflections On High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Water Reflections On Wetland Above Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Majestic Late Afternoon Light & Reflections
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Majestic Late Afternoon Light & Reflections
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 19, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Northern Hardwood Forest At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 22, 2017
In Lower Elevation At Clintwood
Early Blooming Daffodil ( Narcissus spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 22, 2017
In Lower Elevation At Clintwood
Early Blooming Daffodil ( Narcissus spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 24, 2017
Lower Elevations of Cumberland Mountains
The First Periwinkle ( Vinca minor ) Blooms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 24, 2017
Lower Elevations of Cumberland Mountains
First Coltsfoot ( Tussilago farfara ) Blooms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

February 24, 2017
Lower Elevations of Cumberland Mountains
The First Periwinkle Vinca minor ) Blooms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This section is under construction.  Please check back.

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