Monday, July 10, 2017

Mid-Summer 2017 In The Appalachians


July 8, 2017
Jefferson National Forest
Rhododendrons ( Rhododendron maximum )
Bloom At High Knob Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A beautiful beginning to the second week of July featured reduced humidity and lower temperatures in the high country, with 40s to lower 50s in mountain valleys.

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High Knob Lake
June 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 3527 feet

Average Daily MAX: 69.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 52.2 degrees
MEAN: 60.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 75 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 44 degrees

The coldest nights during June occurred in high valleys of the Big Cherry Lake Basin where colder places had average minimums in the upper 40s.

Eagle Knob
June 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 4188 feet

Average Daily MAX: 66.2 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 55.7 degrees
MEAN: 61.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 72 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 47 degrees

Rather striking when considering that the typical night 
at the Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4 site was nearly the same as the coldest night observed up at the summit level of the massif on Eagle Knob.

Big Cherry Wetland 4
June 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 3174 feet

Average Daily MAX: 73.4 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 47.6 degrees
MEAN: 60.5 degrees
Highest Temperature: 80 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 38 degrees

*The average nightly low temperature in June observed at Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4 was 11.6 degrees colder than the average nightly low observed in the Tri-Cities, 16.1 degrees colder than in Knoxville, and a amazing 18.8 degrees colder than experienced in Chattanooga ( 66.4 degree average low ).

To no surprise, nights at Big Cherry Wetland 4 were the coldest found along the central-southern Appalachians during June for a valley site ( having a NWS calibrated sensor mounted at 6 feet above ground level inside 
of a solar radiation shield ).

Cold air drainage is a dominant feature of complex terrain throughout the year, with summer being no exception, as is being well documented by a University Of Virginia's College At Wise undergraduate field research project 
in the High Knob Massif.

Minimum temperature forecasts tend to poorly capture 
this microclimatological aspect, that over long-time periods establish conditions which enhance biological diversity.

Coolest mean conditions during June were within the head of the Big Cherry Wetland Valley, where days were cooler and nights somewhat milder inside the woods of the swamp forest ( versus 
open portions of the valley floor ).

Big Cherry Wetland 2
June 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 3248 feet

Average Daily MAX: 68.4 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 50.7 degrees
MEAN: 59.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 74 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 42 degrees

July 8, 2017
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Early Evening Beauty At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although days were warmer in the high valleys than on the crestlines, colder nights allowed mean June temperatures to be around or just under the 61.0 degree average observed on Eagle Knob at nearly 4200 feet above mean sea level.

Rosebay Rhododendron ( Rhododendron maximum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

While Rosebay Rhododendrons are a featured species currently in bloom, many others are blooming or poised to do so within the next few days within the high country.  A few notable ones include:

Tall Milkweed
( Asclepias exaltata )

Mountain Black Cohosh
( Actaea podocarpa )

Near Sunset ( July 2016 )
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Turk's-cap Lily Lilium superbum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Turk's-cap Lily
( Lilium superbum )

July 15, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Beautiful Turk's-cap Lily Lilium superbum )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Canada Lily
( Lilium canadense )

Large-leaved Phlox
( Phlox amplifolia )

Wood Nettles ( Laportea canadensis ) have now 
met or exceeded their maximum reported height, according to the Flora Of Virginia, and are growing in thick patches within rich, northern hardwoods at upper elevations.

Eagle Knob
July 1-15, 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 4188 feet

Average Daily MAX: 70.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 60.9 degrees
MEAN: 65.5 degrees
Highest Temperature: 74 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 58 degrees

July 15, 2017
Elevation 3900 feet
Camp Rock Meadow of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 15, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Chicken Mushroom ( Laetiphorus sulphureus )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A much cooler feel to the air was experienced during July 29, with lower-middle 60s in upper elevations of the High Knob Massif.  This set the stage for temperatures to drop into the chilly 40s within high valleys into morning hours of July 30.

July 29, 2017
High Knob Massif
Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Big Cherry Wetland 4
July 1-29 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 3174 feet

Average Daily MAX: 78.6 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 55.9 degrees
MEAN: 67.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 85 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 47 degrees

Low temperatures in the 40s had been experienced several times during July, with an average low of 55.9 degrees during July 1-29 at the Big Cherry Wetland 4 observation site.

July 29, 2017
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif
Cool Winds Blow Across Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 29, 2017
Big Cherry Wetland Valley of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Coolest conditions during July 1-29 were again found in the woods near the head of the Big Cherry Wetland Valley, with consistently cooler days than within open expanses of the valley.

Big Cherry Wetland 2
July 1-29 2017 Temperatures
Elevation 3248 feet

Average Daily MAX: 73.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 58.3 degrees
MEAN: 65.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 78 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 51 degrees

July 29, 2017
High Knob Massif
Big Cherry Wetland Valley
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 29, 2017
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Chicken Mushroom ( Laetiphorus sulphureus )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 29, 2017
Little Mountain of High Knob Massif
Large Mushroom In Upper Elevations
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved



Mount Rogers National 
Recreation Area

2017 July 19 At 1707 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Philip C. Shelton, professor emeritus, and I recently surveyed birds in the high country 
of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

2017 July 19 At 1709 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The two day hike and survey began in 
beautiful Grayson Highlands State Park,
and continued through the high country
into Lewis Fork Wilderness Area.

2017 July 19 At 1832 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Conditions were unseasonably warm on the hike upward to Cabin Ridge, even amid this highest terrain in Virginia, with the weather station in Grayson Highlands State Park recording a MAX temperature of 79.1 degrees ( 26.2 Celsius ) 
at 1820 hours on July 19.

2017 July 19 At 1833 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The air was unsaturated, such that if the temperature dropped at the standard dry adiabatic lapse rate of 9.8 degrees Celsius per kilometer the maximum at the summit of Mount Rogers would have been 69.8 degrees ( based upon the 79.1 degree Grayson Highlands SP maximum ).

2017 July 19 At 1839 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

It was a little cooler; however, 
than that within the coniferous forest
at the 1746 metre ( 5729 feet ) summit
level of Virginia's highest mountain.

2017 July 19 On Cabin Ridge
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Conditions were also unusually dry for the heart 
of summer, following a very wet April-May period, with vegetation showing some stress from recent dryness experienced since June 1.

2017 July 19 At 1836 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Evaporation rates are high during summer, especially within the open meadows of the 
high country.

2017 July 19 At 1841 Hours
Crepuscular Rays of Drying Insolation
Cabin Ridge of Mount Rogers NRA
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Phil has likely spent more time on Mount Rogers than anyone alive today, during hundreds of trips made into this wilderness in the past 47 years. 

2017 July 19 At 1842 Hours
Phil Shelton In Cabin Ridge Meadow
Mount Rogers NRA High Country
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Although he would never state it, or even think 
it, Phil is a brilliant ecologist-naturalist and has impacted thousands of students in a very positive manner during his extraordinary teaching career 
at UVA-Wise.  His many friends know him as a world-class naturalist and human being!

It is always a great privilege to be 
out in the natural world with Phil.

2017 July 20 At 0644 Hours
Sunrise Near The Summit Of Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

While total biodiversity is notably less within the spruce-fir forest at highest elevations on Mount Rogers, this is a unique habitat in Virginia and possesses an assemblage of bird species which might be surprising to many given its latitude.

A few notable species include:

 Hermit Thrush
( Catharus guttatus )

Swainson's Thrush
( Catharus ustulatus )

Myrtle Warbler
( Setophaga coronata )

Magnolia Warbler
( Setophaga magnolia )

Dark-eyed Junco
( Junco hyemalis )

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Regulus satrapa )

Red-breasted Nuthatch 
( Sitta canadensis )

Winter Wren
Troglodytes hiemalis )

American Robin 
( Turdus migratorius )

*An American Robin might seem out of place amid all these northern bird species; however, robins breed north to the shores of James Bay and Hudson Bay in Canada and into northern portions of Alaska.

2017 July 20 At 0645 Hours
Lewis Fork Wilderness Area
Sunrise Near The Summit Of Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A morning temperature of 15 degrees Celsius 
( 59 degrees Fahrenheit ) greeted the dawn of 
July 20 near the summit level of Mount Rogers.

2017 July 20 At 0734 Hours
Sunrise On The Summit Of Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 0742 Hours
Dryopteris campyloptera In Spruce-Fir Forest
Early Morning On Summit Of Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

An abundance of Mountain Wood Fern 
( Dryopteris campyloptera ) grows on 
Mount Rogers.

*Dryopteris campyloptera is a tetraploid ( 4n ) fern with
diploid parents Dryopteris intermedia and Dryopteris expansa.

2017 July 20 At 0747 Hours
Summit Level Of Mount Rogers
Sunlight Penetrates Spruce-Fir Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 0847 Hours
Rare Open View From Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1006 Hours
Looking Toward Whitetop Mountain
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1007 Hours
High Country Of Mount Rogers NRA
Looking At Crest Line Of Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1007 Hours
High Country Of Mount Rogers NRA
Looking At Crest Line Of Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The amount of standing dead spruce-fir is rather striking upon looking upward at the lofty crest line of Mount Rogers.  The good news, as observed in previous photographs, being that many young 
trees are currently growing well.

2017 July 20 At 1008 Hours
High Country Of Mount Rogers NRA
Looking At Crest Line Of Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1009 Hours
High Country Of Mount Roger NRA
Looking At Crest Line Of Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1012 Hours
High Country Of Mount Rogers NRA
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1023 Hours
High Country Of Mount Rogers NRA
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A large, sprawling Table-mountain Pine 
( Pinus pungens ) might seem out of place in this high country setting dominated by spruce-fir and northern hardwoods.  Upon closer inspection; however, a dry, rocky setting that is occasionally burned fits it's habitat description. 

2017 July 20 At 1024 Hours
Table-mountain Pine ( Pinus pungens )
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1030 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1035 Hours
Looking Toward Whitetop Mountain
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

*The summit of Whitetop Mountain is the second highest in Virginia at an elevation of 1682 metres 
( 5520 feet above mean sea level ).

*This is true when including highest points on
Pine Mountain-Wilburn Ridge as part of the
Mount Rogers Massif.

2017 July 20 At 1037 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1040 Hours
Classic ( Often Photographed ) Vista
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1041 Hours
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1050 Hours
Looking Toward Crest Line Of Mount Rogers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Heating prior to mid-day was again notable, 
with the weather station in Grayson Highlands State Park recording a MAX temperature of 
80.8 degrees at 1842 hours on July 20.

*The highest observed temperature during this period 
of heat reached 81.1 degrees at 1810 hours on 22 July.

Other high mountain maximums reported 
during this July 19-23 period included:

Mount LeConte
79 degrees

Snowshoe Mountain
77 degrees

Beech Mountain
77 degrees

*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
77 degrees

**Grandfather Mountain
76 degrees

Mount Mitchell
74 degrees

*Other July maximums in the High Knob Massif included:

( Head of Valley In Forest )
Big Cherry Wetland Valley 2
78 degrees

High Knob Lake
80 degrees

Little Mountain of High Knob Massif
81 degrees

( Forest Edge )
Big Cherry Wetland Valley 1
82 degrees

( Open Expanse In Valley )
Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4
85 degrees

**Experimental Station on the
mile high swinging bridge.

2017 July 20 At 1100 Hours
Puffy Cumulus Build Along High Country
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1100 Hours
Puffy Cumulus Build Along High Country
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1102 Hours
Puffy Cumulus Build Along High Country
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

2017 July 20 At 1102 Hours
Puffy Cumulus Build Along High Country
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Independence Day Fireworks
Town Of Clintwood

Despite rain showers, the fireworks show in Clintwood turned out well following an afternoon maximum of 79 degrees ( 67 degrees on Eagle Knob & 69 degrees at High Knob Lake, by comparison ).

July 4, 2017
Independence Day Fireworks
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 4, 2017
Independence Day Fireworks
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 4, 2017
Independence Day Fireworks
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 4, 2017
Independence Day Fireworks
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 4, 2017
Independence Day Fireworks
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 4, 2017
Independence Day Fireworks
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 4, 2017
Independence Day Fireworks
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 4, 2017
Independence Day Fireworks
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved


Cultivated Summer Flowers

July 16, 2017
Lemon-Yellow Lily Hybrid
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 16, 2017
Xenia With A Friend
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 16, 2017
Xenia With Friends
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

July 16, 2017
Xenia Garden
John & America Mae Mullins Gardens
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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