Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 2011 Begins With A GUSH

January 2, 2011
South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif
Gushing Whitewater Draining Big Cherry Basin
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform

A gush of gorgeous whitewater drained lofty 
Big Cherry Basin of the High Knob Massif via rainfall and ALOT of snow melt as the new year 
got started at the dawn of January 2011.

Rugged South Fork Gorge
Majesty of South Fork of the Powell River
Bill Harris Video - © All Rights Reserved.

[ Don't you just LOVE this sound! ].

Photographers Bill Harris & Roddy Addington 
were there to capture this awesome beauty as whitewater tumbled down through the jagged, boulder filled chasm that is extremely rugged 
South Fork Gorge of the High Knob Massif.

A tinge of yellow indicates some sediment transport, but
even in a mostly pristine watershed that tends to happen
when a gushing creek plunges 1433 vertical feet in 4 miles downstream of Big Cherry Dam ( an American Whitewater
Class V+ steep creek ).

January 9, 2011
Hanging Rock Recreation Area
Little Stony Creek of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Rod Addington Photography

Some 15 air miles east of the South Fork, on the Scott County side of the massif, plenty of water was also gushing out of Little Stony Gorge by beautiful Hanging Rock Recreation Area on January 9   ( despite another winter storm and bitter temps ).

High Knob Massif - January 9, 2010
Beautiful Water Of The Little Stony
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

As the snowpack builds once again in the High Knob highcountry, and across all elevations, whitewater is certain to gush much bigger on a future date to continue a 26 consecutive month stretch of general wetness ( broken only by relative September & October dryness in 2010 ).

Big Cherry Dam of High Knob Massif
Monthly Precipitation Totals
Observers: Gary Hampton & Staff
Elevation: 3120 feet

November:  4.36"
December: 8.49"

January: 9.23"
February: 4.36"
March: 5.51"
April: 5.40"
May: 7.07"
June: 5.44"
July: 8.42"
August: 7.08"
September: 9.09"
October: 4.36"
November: 3.88"
*December: 11.50"

*January: 6.25"
*February: 4.25"
*March: 4.50"
April: 3.78"
May: 6.99"
June: 9.53"
July: 4.27"
August: 8.91"
September: 2.88"
October: 2.84"
November: 4.05"
*December: 7.35"

12-Month Total: 65.60" ( M )

26-Month Total: 159.79" ( M )

26-Month Mean Monthly Precipitation: 6.15"

Mean Precipitation Per 12-Months: 73.80" ( M )  

( * ) - Indicates that total was estimated or partly estimated due to severe winter conditions.

( M ) - Denotes that total precipitation was greater than rain gauge total due to evaporation between hand-measurements ( the mean evaporative loss is estimated to have been 3.00" to 3.50" per year as partly based upon observed losses at Clintwood 1 W ).

[ All measurements courtesy of Superintendent Gary Hampton & Staff at the Big Stone Gap Water Plant in South Fork Gorge ].

The above precipitation totals do not take into account any wind induced rain gage undercatches, with the most recent December 2010 total being partly estimated based only upon physical gauge loss ( i.e., much more snow fell than the gage could hold ).

NOTE:  This website has viewers from Europe and many other countries where rain "gauge" is often used instead of rain "gage."
I will use both spelling forms on The High Knob Landform, with "gage" being merely a variant for "gauge". 

Winter Storm of January 7-8, 2011

January 9, 2010
High Knob Massif ( low elevations )
Hanging Rock Recreation Area
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The winter storm of January 7-8 dropped more significant snowfall upon the Wise, Scott, Lee county triad of the High Knob Landform and adjoining sections.

This event featured a WHITEOUT along an Arctic Cold Front followed by bands of intense snow squalls into morning hours of January 8.  Predawn clearing into the morning of January 9 generated sub-zero MINS, with 0 to -5 below readings common.

Lee County of the High Knob Landform
Wilderness Road State Park - January 7, 2011
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

My friend Harold Jerrell once again captured the beauty of snow falling as it might appeared 200 years ago upon wilderness homesteads of the Powell River Valley.

January 7, 2011
Wilderness Road State Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

Winter Storm Blankets The Wilderness Road
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

January 7, 2011
The Fort - Wilderness Road State Park
Photograph by Harold Jerrell - © All Rights Reserved.

A mixture of cedars and deciduous trees spreading outward from the meandering banks of the majestic Powell adds to the surreal beauty of this landscape, still so evident today!

Storm Snowfall Totals
for January 7-8, 2011

Nora 4 SSE: 5.9"
Clintwood 1 W: 8.7"
City of Norton WP: 10.0"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 11.6"
*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 12.5"

*Variable ground depths with solid, old snow still remaining across upper north slopes of High Knob Lake Basin, Big Cherry Basin, Benges Basin, Clear Creek Basin, Lost Creek Basin
and other sections prior to the January 7-8 episode.

January 9, 2011
Hanging Rock Recreation Area of High Knob Massif
In The Wake Of A Bitter Morning
 Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The character of these first days of January 2011 were just full of variety, as so well highlighted and described by my friend Wayne Riner in the rugged highlands of southern Dickenson County.

January 5, 2011
Glorious Dawn - Before The Storm
 Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Three Bluebirds ( Sialia sialis ) watch a glorious dawn illuminate an array of wave clouds before the next winter storm spreads more snow across the highlands of the southern Appalachians.

January 8, 2011
Tennessee Valley Divide
Living On The High Ridges - Long Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"Waiting to be fed, Princess's calf called Baby Princess by the owners has weathered the morning snow and high wind.  The deep hollow is Wakenva, about a 600 foot drop just back of the cow.  A gas well road is in the next ridge over."

Snow Starts Again - January 8, 2011
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"While being outside during a brief period of sun, another wave of snow starts again.  Time to go in."

January 8, 2011
Winter Road To The Orchard
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"For a few minutes the snow and high winds stopped and revealed the snow drifts along the orchard road."

January 8, 2011
South Patio After The Storm
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The sun came out just enough to take a picture of the results of this first wave of ( January ) snow."

Winter Storm of January 10-13, 2011

 NASA Infrared Satellite at 11:31 PM
Lake Michigan Moisture ( Snow ) Plume

I simply love nights when all the weather people covering southwestern Virginia say "its winding down or ending" as snow falls furiously outside and the reality is very different from what is being predicted to occur!

It really should not be this way, amid this modern age, as the NASA IR Image above clearly shows for all the world to see a distinct and most important connection from Lake Michigan into southwestern Virginia ( a visible plume of moisture that was cranking out a fury of dendritic crystals in bitter air to show how "Lake Effect" impacts the High Knob Landform & Tennessee Valley Divide ).

Also distinct is the visible shadowing lee of the High Knob Landform, as the colorized clouds indicative of colder, taller tops vanish in an arch to its lee with sinking air into the Clinch, Holston, and collective Great Valley of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee ( clouds appear again as air is lifted once more to drop snow at higher elevations along the Tennessee-North Carolina border ).

For those sharp, they might catch on that under the "right" flow direction a strip of clouds and potential precipitable moisture can squeak by the eastern end of the High Knob Massif from the Wise Plateau and cross it in the Flatwoods-Guest River Gorge section to reach the Clinch River Valley and points to the southeast toward Bristol, Virginia.

Impacts of the above are most dramatic from the High Knob Massif northward, and along the spines of Black & Pine mountains, where air with the richest moisture is initially lifted ( and with good moisture it extends into the backbone of Clinch Mountain and to the windward side of the Mount Rogers-Whitetop Massif ).

The continuous fall of moderate to heavy snow amid plumes with well defined Great Lake connections, as this case is a classic example, is therefore unique to this portion of Virginia where nearly all of the remainder of the state lies leeward of the West Virginia highlands ( which extract moisture from plumes, reducing their vigor in all but unique settings ).

This being the most important point from a prediction or forecast perspective, as the heavy snow in this most impacted portion of southwest Virginia extends from the deepest hollows to the summits and is not just relegated to the higher, windward facing slopes as most forecasters only recognize ( i.e., this tends to be widespread in nature and not just concentrated into narrow bands such as observed with snowstreaks or training squalls ).

From a climatological or long-term perspective, this is one of the most important aspects making the High Knob Massif and locales to its NW-N the snowiest in all of Virginia for their respective elevations ( i.e., atypically high average annual snowfall at low-moderate elevations of less than 4300 feet ).

Over the long-term only higher elevations within the Mount Rogers-Whitetop area, which also do not lie leeward of West Virginia, could be snowier than the High Knob Massif in Virginia ( any given location in the state can be the snowiest place during a particular event ).

The High Knob Massif does appear to contain the wettest locations in all of Virginia, as previous assumptions that Mount Rogers is the wettest due to it being the highest summit in the state are flawed given that long-term annual wetness is influenced by much more than just elevation ( while more study is needed, ALL data available points to this being true ).

Storm Snowfall Totals
for January 10-13, 2011

Nora 4 SSE: 7.7"
Clintwood 1 W: 8.5"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 9.6"
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 13.7"

Snow depths during the morning of January 13 varied from 10" to 12" at the Norton Water Plant, on northern slopes at the base of the High Knob Massif, to around 21" at a snow marker on Eagle Knob ( with more than 2 feet on upper north slopes where some old snow lingers from December / not including drifts ). 

Clintwood 1 W gained 4.5" of new snow from sunset January 12 to sunrise on January 13, amid the Great Lake plume, to generate 6" to 10" depths at its 1560 foot elevation ( low mountain hollow ).

Major settlement occurred on the snowpack during the January 14-15 period, with some well exposed locations having a 6-10"+ drop in total depth ( via the low density, fluffy nature of this latest fall ).  By contrast, snow remained significantly deeper ( as it typically does ) on shady, northern exposed slopes.

January 14, 2011
Tennessee Valley Divide
The Snowy Garden - Long Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The sun came out this week to find our garden place covered with snow. The aparagus, now brown, was salvaged from wild plants discovered along the road. Covered by snow is a hand cut sandstone rock. I have enjoyed sitting there watching the garden grow and being close to bluebirds feeding their young."

Seasonal Snowfall Tallies
( November 1, 2010 to January 13, 2011 )

Clintwood 1 W: 53.2" at 1560 feet
Nora 4 SSE on Long Ridge: 61.5" at 2650 feet
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 80.8" at 3300 feet
*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 99.5" at 4178 feet

*Only approximate total as greater and lesser amounts have likely occurred within the main crest zone of the massif between Bowman Mountain, Camp Rock, and Thunderstruck Knob where 15 peaks ( locally called knobs ) reach 3600 feet or higher in elevation above mean sea level.

A general 80" to 100" of snow have now fell this season across upper elevations ( above 3200 feet ) in the High Knob Massif, as 2010-11 gets off to a fast start in the southern Appalachians.

Comparison With 2009-10 Season
( October 17, 2009 to January 12, 2010 )

Clintwood 1 W: 37.8" at 1560 feet
Nora 4 SSE on Long Ridge: 43.7" at 2650 feet
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 59.0" at 3300 feet
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 81.0" at 4178 feet 

Compared with this point in last winter a general 60" to 80" of snow had accumulated across upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, with around 40" in lower-middle elevations to its north.

The 2009-10 winter season was characterized by a prolonged, deep snowpack in the High Knob highcountry with a notable lack of harsh coldness ( i.e., sub-zero temps ) despite all the snow.  

The big-ticket storm of last winter, of course, was the December 18-19, 2009 Mega-Disaster event which crippled the area for weeks courtesy of a Miller A Storm packing high density snowfall from the Gulf of Mexico.

The 2009-10 winter generated a significant amount of NW Flow snowfall but, compared to this point in time, not as much as the current winter ( the major difference between the two seasons to date ).  Nearly every system during the 2010-11 season has so far found a way to generate intervals of Great Lake enhanced NW flow snowfall into the southern Appalachians.  A very notable trend, as some winters may pass with very few Great Lake connected flows into the southern Appalachians which do not benefit from such flows as often as central portions of the mountain chain.

The high occurrence of NW-N flow snows so far during this winter season has held the official National Weather Service Cooperative Station near TRI ( Tri-City Airport ) to just 13.1", with even less reported at the NWS Coop in Kingsport, Tn., up through January 13, as such air flows must first pass across the High Knob Landform ( HKL ).

While much above average for this point in a winter season, these TRI snowfall totals would be much greater if large amounts of moisture were not first being extracted from air flowing across the wide High Knob Massif and Tennessee Valley Divide.

Note in almost all historic cases, and events this winter, greater snow amounts occur in Kingsport and at TRI when air flows do NOT have to first pass across the High Knob Massif.

An incredible NW to SE gradient in snowfall develops between the High Knob Massif and Kingsport-TRI, with 67" to 96" ( 5.6 to 8 FEET ) more so far this winter amid these higher elevations located a mere 23 to 36 air miles to the NW-N of Kingsport-TRI.

A truly dramatic and classic example of snow shadowing which was never fully recognized prior to my climatic research.

Square Pants Survives Another Storm!
  Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

That is one TOUGH little DUDE!    

Special Feature:
Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
Pine Mountain of the Cumberland Overthrust Block

January 15, 2011
Pine Mountain - Letcher County, Ky
Icy Wonder of Bad Branch Waterfall
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Just northwest of the High Knob Landform is a rugged, pristine section of Pine Mountain that is a favorite local destination during all seasons of the year ( along the Pine Mountain Anticline ).

January 15, 2011
Isaiah Addington Capturing The Wonders
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Part of the extensive system of natural areas of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission & The Nature Conservancy, Bad Branch Waterfall is only one of the gems found amid this rugged section of Pine Mountain.

Recall The Cumberland Overthrust Block 
consists of these major geological features:

1 ).  The Powell Valley Anticline 
of the High Knob Landform

2 ).  The Middlesboro Syncline

3 ).  The Pine Mountain Anticline

The Powell Valley Anticline is the structural framework of the great High Knob Landform, the most dominant feature of the 3125 square mile Cumberland Block.

Bad Branch SNP - January 15, 2011
Flowing Water & Frozen Water
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Winter is a special time to visit any of our many waterfalls, as all forms and phases of water are typically on wondrous display!

January 15, 2011
Rugged Sandstone Cliffs In Bad Branch SNP
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Pristine blue skies made the perfect backdrop for these rugged sandstone cliffs, decorated by a myriad of LONG icicles!

January 15, 2011
Colorful ICE Display of Bad Branch Falls
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The morning did not begin so clear, but beauty was not diminished as all sorts of colors were created by the magical interplay between light, rock, and water frozen in time!

January 15, 2011
Bad Branch Gorge In Winter
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

More than 30 species of plants & animals rare to Kentucky are found amid this rugged mountain landscape of boulder filled gorges, as the climate changes more distinctly here with W & NW air flowing across the foothills getting its first big lift upward into the Cumberland Overthrust Block.

Bad Branch SNP is also near the northeastern end of an extended corridor which acts to generate maximum downsloping on SE winds as air flows across the High Knob Massif, northeast end of the Black Mountains, and this portion of Pine Mountain.

Locations to the northwest of these mountains often record anomalously low precipitation amounts during individual storm events, and more rarely during months or even years, when SE air flows dominate ( the greatest SE flow precip amounts, by contrast, occur along windward sides of the sprawling High Knob Massif ). 

January 15, 2011
Letcher County, Kentucky
Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
ICE Cave - Winter Product of Ice & Rock
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Roddy captured a winter product of ice and rock that looked like an ice cave, at least a Mini-Me version!

January 15, 2011
Remote Majesty of Bad Branch of the Cumberland
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Bad Branch is literally at the very head of the extensive 688 mile long Cumberland River system, and has been designated a Kentucky Wild River of the Bluegrass State.

January 15, 2011
Letcher County, Kentucky
Pristine Water of Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Pristine water of Bad Branch is matched in Kentucky only by a few other creeks, such as those tumbling out of the rugged northwestern arm of the High Knob Landform ( geological Powell Valley Anticline ) in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park ( the Cumberland & Stone mountain arm of the HKL often being called a geological mirror image of Pine Mountain, or visa versa, by geologists ).

Beautiful Mix of Water Phases & Light - Bad Branch
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Unique settings complete with all forms of water phases and light were captured by Roddy along the rocky course of Bad Branch.

January 15, 2011
Ice Crystals Over Rippling Water - Bad Branch SNP
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

January 15, 2011
Ice Formations Along Bad Branch of the Cumberland
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Bad Branch SNP is only a short distance from gorgeous North Fork of Pound Lake, in northern Wise County, Va., at the head of the Russell Fork Basin of the Ohio River. 

January 15, 2011
Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
Isaiah Addington Making Memories
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

There is nothing like having a good buddy on a long hike, with a father & son combo being the best!  Isaiah is making memories that will last a life time in the wild lands with dear Ole Dad.

January 15, 2011
Sponge Bob Rides Again - Bad Branch SNP
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Its always great to have an extra friend too!   

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Holiday Snowstorm ( Dec 25-27 )

High Knob Massif
December 27, 2010
In Wake of Christmas Holiday Storm
Massive Drifting & Deep Snow In Crest Zone
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform

The Christmas Holiday snowstorm of 2010 was the event which created history by making this already snowy December the snowiest on record since at least the 1970s.

Here is a brief, daily recap of conditions
leading up through this Holiday winter storm.

December 20
My friend Steve Blankenbecler reported a 14" depth at a snow marker on Eagle Knob with Steve saying, "but you can walk and still find plenty of 2 feet to 30" depths laying around."

December 21
Light to moderate overnight snow developed with weak isentropic upglide along a warm front, with a general 0.5" to 1" of new snow accumulation from the High Knob Massif north to Clintwood.

This marked the start of a mini pre-Christmas thaw, with 30s to near 40 degrees widespread at all elevations behind the warm front.

December 22
Drizzle & low clouds dominated the overnight period into sunrise with near freezing conditions in colder mountain valleys.

Another day of widespread 30s contributed to significant snow melt ( especially on above ground objects ), with 0.96" of melt water released from a automated rain gauge on the Eagle Knob of the High Knob Massif ( ground depths, however, did not diminish as much as suggested by this large melt water release ).

December 23
Lowering cloud bases accompanied by sleet to light snow amid valleys, and light snow across the higher elevations, developed from evening hours of December 22 into the following day.

High Knob Massif
December 23, 2010
New Snow & Rime Formation
 Photograph by Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

Morning temperatures in the low 10s atop the High Knob Massif, with colder wind chills, were accompanied by new rime formation at the higher elevations.

[ Many standing lee wave clouds were observed during the day as northwesterly winds blew vigorously across Pine Mountain, Black Mountain, and the High Knob Landform toward northeast Tennessee ].

Christmas EVE ( December 24 )
AM snow depths varied from a foot or more across upper north slopes and crestlines of the High Knob Massif to 1" or less at some well exposed lower to middle elevation sites with southern exposures.

Cloudy, cold conditions ruled Christmas Eve day with maximums in the 20s to around 30 degrees from Norton-Wise north to Clintwood as mid to high altitude cloudiness lowered and thickened in advance of the next winter storm.

Doppler indicated virga ( precipitation falling aloft ) began reaching the summit level of the High Knob Massif during evening hours of Christmas Eve, as the atmosphere saturated from the top downward!

Christmas 2010 ( December 25 )
The Second Consecutive White Christmas

High Knob Massif
Winter Beauty of December 2010
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Light to occasionally moderate snow, with embedded heavier bursts, dominated the overnight to sunrise period of Christmas Morn to generate an idyllic 2" to 3" of fresh snow ( moderately wet in nature compared to the FLUFFY snowfall to follow ).

[ Christmas morning snow depths varied from around 5" ( 3" to 7" ) in Clintwood and Norton to as much as 15" amid higher elevations in the High Knob Massif ( deeper in drifts and on upper N slopes ) ].

Snow densities decreased ( snow to water ratios increased ) as colder air poured into the mountains during Christmas afternoon and evening.

[ Reference this section of the website for a recap of the past 30 Christmas Holidays:

A Snowy December Continues ].

December 26
Steady light snow through the overnight period became showery and heavier in nature by the PM of December 26, with large dendritic flakes and other crystal forms arising as strong & gusty winds increased upsloping amid the bitter air.

This was part of the period that generated massive drifting along high crestlines and gaps.

Afternoon temps in the 10s from Norton-Wise into the High Knob Massif fell into the single digits on Eagle Knob by 7 PM as snowfall turned heavy ( the heaviest and most intense snow of this event fell from PM hours of Dec 26 into the morning of Dec 27, with 9.0" of new snowfall being measured in High Chaparral by Joe & Darlene Fields ).

December 27
Christmas Holiday Storm Wanes

High Knob Massif
Eagle Knob Communications Area ( PM )
Blazing RIME In Wake of Christmas Storm
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Morning snow gave way to enough afternoon clearing to create a magnificent blaze of whiteness over top of the general 1 to 3 feet of snow depth across the massif ( with locally larger drifts ).

High Knob Massif
Massive Drift Line Along NW Slope
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Christmas Holiday Storm Snowfall Totals
Clintwood 1 W: 12.2"
City of Norton WP: 12.6"
Nora 4 SSE on Long Ridge: 15.0"
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 18.5"
*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 23.0"

( * ) - Approximate storm snowfall total ( local amounts may have been greater or less within the main crest zone ).  A general 4" to 5" of total settlement was observed during this event given the low density of the fluffy snowfall from Dec 25 PM to Dec 27 AM.

Mean snow depths reached around 10" in both Clintwood and Norton, varying from 7" to 13", with 14" or more of mean depth on Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge and within upper elevations of the High Knob Massif ( where snow depths were generally knee to waist deep, or higher, as documented by these photographs ).

December 27, 2010
Deep Snow & Drifting
Remnant Highcountry Mass of High Knob Landform
Eagle Knob Communications Area at 12:52 PM
Image Courtesy of Steve Blankenbecler - © All Rights Reserved.

The Snowiest December
On Record

December 2010 Snowfall Totals
Clintwood 1 W: 36.2" at 1560 feet
Nora 4 SSE: 46.3" at 2650 feet on Long Ridge
High Chaparral of High Knob Massif: 55.0" at 3300 feet
*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 67.0" at 4178 feet

*Approximate tally ( with greater and lesser amounts likely
within the main crest zone of the massif between Bowman
Mountain and Thunderstruck Knob of Powell Mountain ).

The 55.0" of snowfall in High Chaparral of the High Knob Massif pushed the seasonal tally to nearly 5 feet ( 59.5" ), as of Dec 31, and was further verified by 6.20" of total precipitation measured by Otis & Nancy Ward in the nearby Robinson Knob community.

[ The above being especially true since a significant amount of precipitation was lost during December by the 4"-diameter NWS rain gauge which could not hold all of the deep snowfalls.  The actual December tally is figured to have been more than 6.50", much more, with well over 4.00" of it in snow water content ].

December 2010
What A Month Of Snow In The High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The 65" to 70" December snowfall amid the main crest zone of the High Knob Massif pushed the seasonal total to approximately 6 feet ( 73.0" ) on Eagle Knob ( 4189 feet at summit ).

These huge snowfall numbers were further verified by my friend Gary Hampton who measured 6.53" in the 4"-diameter NWS gauge at Big Cherry Dam for the month of December into early January.

[ Although conditions got so bad that Gary & Staff could not reach Big Cherry Dam during December, the 6.53" total was very significant given that the rain gauge was overflowed by snow during the first big Dec 4-8 event.  While it is not possible to know the true total, a very conservative estimate of snowfall loss by the rain gauge ( based upon observed snow densities and the physical storage capacity of the gage ) yields 7.35" for a December 2010 total ( in reality, there is no way the rain gauge caught 80-89% of the precip which fell during this period, such that the estimated 7.35" total has to be too low based upon the 6.53" measured amount ).

The only major rain included in December 2010 was for the 24-hours ending on December 1, and it was much less than rain tallies reported on high mountains toward the southeast ( along the TN-NC border ).  Otherwise, except for a period of icing, all December precipitation fell as snow ].

The bottom line of the above being that an impressive amount of precipitation fell across the High Knob Massif during December, and that it was not possible for the smaller 4"-diameter NWS style rain gauges to collect what fell ( it would have required constant monitoring and emptying of the gauges for them to have even been reasonably close to what actually fell as snow ).

[ Due to wind induced rain gauge undercatches, which can become extreme in snowfall, the only way to have obtained a true measurement would have been by taking snow cores to melt for water contents.

Reference the following section of my website to learn more about wind induced rain gauge undercatches:

Wetness Rules The High Knob Massif ].

Climate Statistics For
December 2010

Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 32.8 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 19.0 degrees
MEAN: 25.9 degrees
Total Precipitation: 5.15"
2010 Precipitation: 44.99" ( -1.21" below 1971-2000 mean )

City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Daily MAX: 31.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 15.1 degrees
MEAN: 23.0 degrees
Total Precipitation: 6.00"
2010 Precipitation: 55.64" ( -1.90" below 1983-2004 mean )*

Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 29.3 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 17.3 degrees
MEAN: 23.3 degrees
Total Precipitation: 5.74"
2010 Precipitation: 47.85"

*Long-term mean is actually higher due to physical rain gauge losses in winter falls of snow during the 1983-1998 period ( prior to installation of a large 8"-diameter NWS gauge ).

In the High Knob highcountry, December temp means varied from low-mid 20s at the higher elevations by day to low-mid 10s in colder basins by night ( near to below zero MINS occurring numerous times ).

[ The coldest places likely having an average ( mean ) monthly minimum as low as 10 degrees given enhanced cooling from a deep and persistent snowpack ].

Northern slopes at the higher elevations had 1" or more of snow depth during every December day, with the majority of the month having a foot or more of depth across north slopes amid the main crest zone ( e.g., High Knob Lake Basin and upper basins of    Big Cherry Lake, Norton Reservoirs, Lost Creek, Clear Creek ).

Despite mean temperatures far below freezing, Big Cherry Lake overflowed its spillway during every December day ( overflow started on November 27 ). 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ICY Majesty In High Knob Massif

December 19, 2010
Bark Camp Lake of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform

Bark Camp Lake is a jewel during any time of year, but always seems to possess an extra special character when winter settles into the 
High Knob highcountry.

[ The Lake elevation of 2734 feet above sea level is 1489 vertical feet lower than the summit level of the High Knob Massif and 1434 vertical feet higher than the Clinch River at Dungannon ].

Cloud bases lowered to the level of Wise, or locally lower, during the afternoon and evening hours of December 17 as icy, cold air returned to freeze the snowpack solid!

[ Photographers Roddy Addington and Bill Harris took a trip up into the Maple Gap section of the High Knob Massif during afternoon hours of December 18, amid icy trees, but had to turn around due to large amounts of wind blown snow across the roadway ( 2 feet deep ) ].

High Knob Massif
December 19, 2010
ICE Lingers For Days Amid Cold
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

Ice on trees within the Bark Camp Lake to Little Stony Gorge corridor lingered for days in wake of icing on December 16, with additional intervals of drizzle and riming into higher elevations as cloud bases lowered on cold, upsloping northerly winds.

[ AM MINS were widespread in the 10s amid low, icy clouds into morning hours of December 19, with local temperatures dropping to around 10 degrees into evening hours of December 19 ].

December 19, 2010
Jefferson National Forest
Water Drops Frozen In Time - High Knob Massif
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

The trained eye of photographer Bill Harris found something unique in these water drops frozen in time, as he zooms in for all to see!

High Knob Massif
Amazing Wonders Of Nature!
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

The always wondrous Little Stony Gorge was also extra special on this day, as whitewater spray added to this wonderland in ice!

High Knob Massif
Icy Wonder In Little Stony Creek Gorge
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

Although harsh, the beauty of this season
can simply not be denied!

December 19, 2010
Little Stony Gorge of High Knob Massif
Water In Different Stages of Motion & Form
Photograph by Bill Harris - © All Rights Reserved.

Taking all these photos under such conditions is not all play, it can be work just getting there and situated for the shot!

High Knob Massif
Bill Harris At Work & Play
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Rod Addington Photography

Thanks to all my friends for their hard work in documenting the wondrous beauty of The High Knob Landform!