Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 2012 - WARM & WET In The HKL

March 25, 2012
Early Green On Potter's Flats - Breaks Interstate Park
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

The High Knob Landform

[ Whitewater rapids visible on the Russell Fork River above are 33 air miles NNE of the summit level of the High Knob Massif, and more than 3400 feet lower in elevation, as the river bends around Potter's Flats in majestic Breaks Interstate Park straddling the rugged Virginia-Kentucky border ].

Breaks Interstate Park is always one of the first places in far southwestern Virginia to "green up" each spring but even here, where elevations drop toward 800 feet upon entering Kentucky, spring emergence is running several weeks ahead of schedule following record March warmth. 

March 25, 2012
Breaks Interstate Park ( Dickenson County )
White Trillium ( Trillium grandiflorum ) In Bloom 
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

With March temperatures being analogous to what would typically be observed during late April and early May, it is little wonder that vegetation began to wake up early from winter slumber ( * ).

*This refers to MEAN temperatures for the month of March with individual days having record warmth reaching summer levels.

Climate Statistics
For March 2012

( Lower elevations of Russell Fork Basin )
Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 68.4 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 37.4 degrees
MEAN: 52.9 degrees
Highest Temperature: 84 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 20 degrees
Total Precipitation: 4.54"
Total Snowfall: 1.8"

( Northern base of High Knob Massif )
City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
Average Daily MAX: 64.3 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 36.5 degrees
MEAN: 50.4 degrees
Highest Temperature: 80 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 17 degrees
Total Precipitation: 8.32"
Total Snowfall: 4.2"

( Long Ridge of Tennessee Valley Divide )
Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 62.8 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 43.0 degrees
MEAN: 52.9 degrees
Highest Temperature: 78 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 21 degrees
Total Precipitation: 6.19"
Total Snowfall: 3.0"

( Northern Edge of The Cedars )
Jonesville 3.1 WSW - Elevation 1422 feet
Average Daily MAX: 69.3 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 42.1 degrees
MEAN: 55.7 degrees
Total Precipitation: 7.80"
Total Snowfall: Trace

[ In the Russell Fork Basin note that Clintwood and Nora 4 SSE had the exact same MEAN temperature for March despite having radically different regimes, with much cooler days on Long Ridge and much cooler nights in Clintwood.  In fact, downsloping SW winds in the mean allowed Clintwood to have some of the warmest maximums in southwest Virginia during March with 6 days at or above 80 degrees ( followed by rapid nocturnal temp drops ) ].

In the High Knob highcountry, the average March temps varied from mid-upper 50s by day at highest elevations to low-mid 30s at night in colder mountain valleys ( northern exposed, lofty valleys above 2500 to 3000 feet elevation tending to be coldest in the mean ).

March was wet with a general 7.00" to 9.00" of total precipitation in the High Knob Massif area, including 3" to 5" of snow ( much below average snow ).

Breaks Interstate Park - March 25, 2012
Colors of Spring Come Early To Breaks Gorge
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Mean SSW-WSW winds during March generated significant lifting over the High Knob Massif to aid rainfall totals across and upstream of its sprawling highcountry, with orographic & convective modes operating together and at different times to keep the wet trend of the past 13-months going.

City of Norton
13-Month Precipitation Totals
Observers: Tommy Roberts & Staff of Norton WP
( March 2011 - March 2012 )

March: 8.38"
April: 8.66"
May: 5.13"
June: 6.40"
July: 8.43"
August: 5.55"
September: 9.21"
October: 5.04"
November: 8.08"
December: 5.63"

January: 4.11"
February: 5.77"
March: 7.87"

2012 Total: 17.75"

12-Month Total: 79.88"

13-Month Total: 88.26" ( * )

*The most precipitation observed within any city or town
in Virginia during this 13-Month period.

March 25, 2012
Virginia Pine ( Pinus virginiana ) - Breaks Interstate Park
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

March Ends With Beauty
Along The Tennessee Valley Divide
( Southern Dickenson County )

March 31, 2012 at 5:45 PM
Rainbow Thunderbolt Over Hazel Mountain
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner's Photograph Thoughts...
"Above the dark valley a rainbow appeared. It looks as if it is a thunderbolt jumping from a white cloud against a blue sky."

Truly unusual and magnificent!

March 31, 2012 at 5:46 PM
Close-Up View of Rainbow Thunderbolt
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

March 31, 2012 at 6:09 PM
Long Ridge of the Tennessee Valley Divide
My Mother's Cherry Tree - Majesty of Spring
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner's Photograph Thoughts...
"When we first built our house, my mother brought me a sprout from a cherry tree.  It has provided us well."

March 31, 2012 at 6:11 PM
Lowering Sun Cast's Shadow of House On Orchard
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

A highland orchard in early bloom at 2650 feet elevation.  With hopes and prayers may it produce a bounty, as all will be needed to help it survive more "mountain winters" ahead!

March 31, 2012 at 6:50 PM
Towering Cumulonimbus Near Sunset - Long Ridge
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

What a way to end the warmest
March on record!