Monday, March 6, 2017

Beginning Of Meteorological Spring 2017


March 4, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Majestic Afternoon In Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Majestic conditions graced afternoon hours of March 4 in the High Knob Massif.  Although a few small patches of snow lingered in the high country through this afternoon, lakes & wetlands had very little ice coverage in wake of significant rainfall and strong to severe thunderstorms on March 1.

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March 4, 2017
Big Cherry Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
American Beaver Activity In Wetland Valleys
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

From a regional perspective the Meteorological Winter period of December-February of 2016-17 was one of the warmest on record, generally ranking within the top 5.

Courtesy of the Morristown, Tn., NWSFO

Courtesy of the Charleston, Wv., NWSFO

High Knob Massif Mesonet
University Of Virginia's College At Wise

December-February Temperatures
Big Cherry Wetland Valley 3

Average Daily MAX: 44.7 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 25.2 degrees
MEAN: 35.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 68 degrees
Lowest Temperature: -4 degrees

Although mean winter temperatures were in the mid-30s within high valleys of the High Knob Massif, colder than typically observed during a "normal" winter in the Tri-Cities, there is little doubt that winter conditions were anomalous 
here as well where only 20" to 30" of snow fell above 3000 feet.

*The 2 feet or so of snow that fell during Meteorological Winter in wetland valleys of Big Cherry Basin was far below average, with January alone typically producing this much atop the basin.

March 4, 2017
Big Cherry Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Mountain Wave Clouds Above Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 4, 2017
Big Cherry Wetland Valley of High Knob Massif
Close Up of Lenticular Mountain Wave Clouds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

While nocturnal temperatures in wetland valleys 
of Big Cherry Basin were up to 2.0 degrees colder than Burkes Garden, on average, during the period of December-February, the winter season produced such a progressive pattern that night-time coldness was limited by mixing and abundant clouds that reduced boundary layer decoupling. 

March 4, 2017
Northern Base of High Knob Massif
Whitewater In Legion Park - City Of Norton
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Winter 2016-17 was seasonally wet within the 
High Knob Massif area with a general 16.00" to 22.00" of total precipitation, greatest above 
3000 feet in the upper elevations.

March 4, 2017
Northern Base of High Knob Massif
Icy Whitewater In Legion Park - City Of Norton
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 4, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Wetland Valley of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 4, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Wetland Valley of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 4, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Wetland Valley of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 4, 2017
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
American Beaver Lodge In Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 4, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Wetland Valley of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 4, 2017
High Knob Massif
South Fork of Powell of Upper Tennessee Basin
Reflections On Beaver Pond In Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 9, 2017
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Beautiful Evening Before The Art Guild Show
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 9, 2017
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Beautiful Evening Before The Art Guild Show
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 9, 2017
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Beautiful Evening Before The Art Guild Show
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 11, 2017
Not Yet In Bloom At Lower Elevations
Yellow Trout Lily ( Erythronium americanum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 11, 2017
Creamy-Yellow Daffodil ( Narcissus spp. )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 11, 2017
A Cold Night In The Mountains
Beautiful Moon Above The Cumberlands
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 13, 2017
First Trout Lilies Bloom In Lower Elevations
Yellow Trout Lily ( Erythronium americanum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 14, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Icicle Grows In Cold March Air
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Snow Covers High Country
March 13-15, 2017

A winter storm transformed the high country of the High Knob Massif into a wonderland during March 13-15, with wet snow followed by dry snow & rime.

March 15, 2017
Elevation 4196 feet
Mean Snow Depth 8-10"
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
Sunshine Illuminates Snow & Rime
Cody Blankenbecler Image - © All Rights Reserved

Snow depths of 6" to 12"+ were common across upper elevations of the massif above 3000 feet, with the deepest snow at highest elevations where all precipitation fell in the form of snow.

March 13, 2017
High Knob Massif Webcam
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Just Before Precipitation Development

The wet snow phase into morning hours of March 14 was highly elevation biased, with the following totals observed by elevation:

High Knob Massif Summit Level: 5" at 4200 feet
High Chaparral Community: 2" at 3300 feet
Norton-Wise: 0.5" at 2300-2600 feet
Clintwood: 0" at 1600 feet

March 14, 2017
High Knob Massif Webcam
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Break Between Wet Snow & Much Drier Snow

An additional 2" to 5" of new, low density 
snow fell into morning hours of March 15.

March 15, 2017
High Knob Massif Webcam
University Of Virginia's College At Wise
Bitter Cold Air In Wake Of NW Flow Snow

March 13-15 Winter Storm
( Mean Ground Depth AM March 15 )

Clintwood 1 W – Elevation 1560 feet
2.0″ Snowfall ( 1″ ground depth )

Nora 4 SSE – Elevation 2650 feet
3.1″ Snowfall ( 2″ ground depth )

City of Norton WP – Elevation 2342 feet
3.3″ Snowfall ( 2″ ground depth )

UVA-Wise – Elevation 2550 feet
4.0″ Snowfall ( 3″ ground depth )

3300 feet
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif
7.0″ Snowfall ( 6″ ground depth )

4196 feet
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
10.0″ Snowfall ( 6-12″+ depths )

March 15, 2017
High Knob Massif - Elevation 3300 feet
Deep Snow In High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

Darlene Fields captured beautiful scenes of the deep snow in the High Chaparral community, 4 air miles east of the peak of High Knob and the main crest zone containing a total of 15 peaks that rise to 3600 feet or higher in elevation.

March 15, 2017
Upper Tennessee River Basin
Deep Snow In High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

The High Chaparral community rests at the top of a divide separating the watersheds of Burns Creek, Big Stony Creek, and Little Stony Creek of the Clinch River of the great Upper Tennessee River Basin, with an array of homes generally between 3200 and 3400 feet above sea level.

March 15, 2017
Remnant Massif of High Knob Landform
Deep Snow In High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

Spring snow is common in the high country, with this week marking the 24 year anniversary of the great Superstorm of March 1993 when 46.0" of snow was measured in High Chaparral by 
Joe & Darlene Fields.*

*A snow depth of 58.0" was observed at the summit level of the massif.

March 15, 2017
Ground Depth In High Chaparral Community
Photograph by Darlene Fields - © All Rights Reserved

The Winter Season of 2016-17 has been highly anomalous, with this marking only the third snowfall to generate depths of at least 6" or more.  In fact, this event either tied ( in High Chaparral ) or became the deepest observed so far this puny snowfall season that has only produced 
around 42" atop the massif.**

**In general it was very close to the January 27-30, 2017 snow event that produced 7.0" in High Chaparral
and 9.0" on Eagle Knob.

A check of the past 10 winter seasons in the high country of the High Knob Massif reveals that this current season has produced the least drifting of the past decade, and the least total snowfall.  Even the 2006-07 season produced more snow than this one despite max mean depths that barely topped half a foot.

Max Observed Snow Depths
( Drifts Reported or Estimated )

2006-07 Winter Season
6-7"+
( 3 feet drifts )

2007-08 Winter Season
6-12"
( 3 to 4 feet drifts )

2008-09 Winter Season
11-13"+ 
( 4 to 5+ feet drifts

2009-10 Winter Season
24-36"
( 4 to 5+ feet drifts )

2010-11 Winter Season
14-24"+
( 4+ feet drifts )

2011-12 Winter Season
12-24"
( 3+ feet drifts )

2012-13 Winter Season
30"
( 4 to 8 feet drifts )

2013-14 Winter Season
16-24"+
( 4 to 8 feet drifts )

2014-15 Winter Season
36-50"
( Larger Drifts )

2015-16 Winter Season
18-24"+
( 3 to 4+ feet drifts )

The previous 7 winter seasons prior to this one produced mean depths that reached at least 2 feet or more at highest elevations, with the massive snowpack of Winter 2014-15 standing out with 
its 3 to 4+ feet of mean snow depth at elevations 
above 3000 feet.


Majestic Sunbeams Of March 18

Following rain, thunderstorms, and snow melt a return to cold air late on March 18 generated some beautiful sunbeams ( crepuscular rays ) as viewed from Flag Rock Recreation Area, above the City of Norton, on northern slopes of the massif.

March 18, 2017
City of Norton Park In Cold N Winds
Flag Rock Recreation Area - High Knob Massif
Majestic Sunbeams From Flag Rock Overlook
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Probably the most amazing aspect were 
the changes which occurred as time passed.

March 18, 2017
Flag Rock Recreation Area - City of Norton
Majestic Sunbeams From Flag Rock Overlook
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Dr. Walter ( Wally ) Smith, of UVA-Wise, has discovered the greatest Green Salamander biomass per unit area currently known on the planet amid rugged cliffs of the Flag Rock area.


March 18, 2017
City of Norton Park
Green Salamander ( Aneides aeneus ) Sancutary
Majestic Sunbeams From Flag Rock Overlook
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The City of Norton has officially designated 
this area as a Green Salamander Sanctuary.

March 18, 2017
Looking Toward Town Of Wise
Approaching Sunset Flag Rock Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 18, 2017
Majestic Sunbeams From Flag Rock Overlook
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 18, 2017
Northern Slope Of High Knob Massif
Approaching Sunset Amid Icy North Winds
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 21, 2017
( Russell Fork Basin of Dickenson County )
Approaching Peak Bloom In Lower Elevations
Yellow Trout Lily ( Erythronium americanum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 21, 2017
Lower Elevations of Russell Fork Basin
Early Spring Phlox ( Phlox spp. ) Blooms
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Frigid Conditions 
In High Country

March 22, 2017
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Chilly Spring Afternoon In Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Gusty north winds made the afternoon of March 22 feel chilly in the high country, with low-mid 40s air temps and colder wind chills.

Nothing compared to the 0 degree minimum observed in this area of the Big Cherry Lake Wetland Valley during morning hours of March 16.  The coldest valley low temperature observed in the region, continuing a trend observed throughout the Winter Season of 2016-17.

March 22, 2017
Valley Floor Elevation 3150-3200 Feet
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Chilly Spring Afternoon In Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The minimum observed in High Knob Lake Basin dipped to 4 degrees above zero during morning hours of March 16 ( 5 degrees was recorded in Burkes Garden ).

March 22, 2017
Valley Floor Elevation 3527 Feet
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Chilly Spring Afternoon At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 22, 2017
Extended Time Exposure Of High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 22, 2017
Valley Floor Elevation 3527 Feet
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Chilly Spring Afternoon At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 22, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
March Storm Damage At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Early Spring Wildflowers

March 27, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 27, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 27, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Ramps ( Allium tricoccum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 27, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Yellow Trout Lily ( Erythronium americanum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 27, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Rue-anemone ( Thalictrum thalictroides )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 29, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Grapevine Epimenis Moth ( Psychomorpha epimenis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 29, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
First Bloodroot ( Sanguinaria canadensis )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 29, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Rue-anemone ( Thalictrum thalictroides )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

March 29, 2017
Cumberland Mountains
Common Dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved