Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Colorations Of Autumn 2013

October 4, 2013
Water Elevation 3308 feet
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Gorgeous Autumn Colors Of Northern Slopes 
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Photographer Roddy Addington has been adding 
to the legacy of another autumn amid the ancient Appalachians with truly gorgeous color shots from mesic, northern slopes of the High Knob Massif.

Early color changes are common at higher elevations,
above 2700 feet, of the High Knob Massif each year.

Early Color Changes During Autumn 2012

As of October 8 the best color was found above 3000 feet in the massif with locations from Osborne Rock west to High Knob Lake and the Upper Norton Reservoir, southwest to Big Cherry Lake and Upper South Fork Gorge, showing the most vivid color in birches, maples, ashes, and other mesic species.

Although patches of nice color had emerged in yellow poplar and maple trees on the Wise-Sandy Ridge plateaus, and adjoining high ridges, most places remained muted and devoid of good or significant color ( some places in lower elevations, like the Kingsport, Tn., area, hardly had any color changes ).

Yellow Poplar Leaf-mining Weevils ( Odontopus calceatus ) continue to stress this species in lower elevations and may partly be the result of browning leaves and a lack of yellow colorations.

Along the Appalachians, in general, something bigger may be ongoing as its been years since a widespread display of brilliant colorations have been observed like seemingly used to be more the rule than exception ( i.e., from low to high elevations ).

Color Update - October 15, 2013
A significant increase in both quality and quantity of color changes had spread across all elevations as of October 15, with frosty nights and numerous sun filled days during the past week accelerating color changes.  Peak conditions were found above 2500-3000 feet in the High Knob Massif, especially along north slopes and across high valleys and crestlines where a blaze of color was on display ( a few places passing peak ).

Nice color was also observed in middle elevations across the
Wise Plateau and adjoining high ridges where peak was rapdily approaching.  The least color remained in lower elevations from near Big Stone Gap to Duffield and Kingsport, Tn., where frost had been lacking and morning fog prevalent.

October 4, 2013
High Dynamic Range Photograph
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.
Some leaves were on the water and blowing in air that felt unseasonably mild for early October, even in the high country of the Appalachians ( * ).

*That is expected to change by October 7-8 when significant temperature drops will occur behind a vigorous cold front.  Part of the same system responsible for a historic, early season blizzard in the Black Hills of South Dakota ( as will be highlighted later ).

Daylight hours of October 7 will introduce the chill as temperatures are likely to struggle to break out of the 40s at highest elevations in the High Knob Massif.  As drier air arrives, and gusty SW winds turn WNW-NW and weaken, this will set the stage for frost-freezing conditions into morning hours of October 8 ( especially in mountain valleys of mid-upper elevations ).

Mountain Empire View
A Birch Knob of Pine Mountain Perspective

September 29, 2013
View From Birch Knob of Pine Mountain
Good Visibility Above Morning Inversion
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Good visibility in late September allowed Roddy 
to capture a beautiful view of several notable mountains rising east of the High Knob Massif across the southwestern Virginia portion of this famed Mountain Empire.

September 29, 2013
Upper Tennessee & Ohio River Basins
Mountain Peaks Rising Above Southwestern Virginia
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

Note a correction on the above photograph has removed the labels for Mount Rogers-Whitetop Mountain which should be visible between Russell Beartown & Brumley from Birch Knob.

When I initially labeled Roddy's photograph I was thinking about how they appeared from the High Knob Lookout.  However, as pointed out by Richard Davis, upon measuring via Google Earth
or ArcGIS the line of sight from Birch Knob would not appear to match them appearing in the same position ( e.g., with respect to Brumley Mountain ) as they do from High Knob ( thanks much to Richard, and sorry for the labeling error! ).

The transition into October was 
tranquil during most of its first week.

October 6, 2013
Morning Trails In The Autumn Sky
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The pumpkin colored jet contrails brighten the morning sky and give a hint of the coming rain."

Climate Statistics
For September 2013

( Lower Elevations of Russell Fork Basin )
Clintwood 1 W - Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 73.7 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 52.9 degrees
MEAN: 63.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 82 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 42 degrees
Rainfall: 3.08"
2013 Precipitation: 40.15"

( Northern Base of High Knob Massif )
City of Norton - Elevation 2141 feet
*Average Daily MAX: 72.9 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 49.7 degrees
MEAN: 61.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 81 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 39 degrees
Rainfall: 3.15"
2013 Precipitation: 49.28"

( Along the Tennessee Valley Divide )
Nora 4 SSE - Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 72.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 55.5 degrees
MEAN: 63.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 81 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 43 degrees
Rainfall: 4.80"
2013 Precipitation: 47.69"

*The Average Daily MAX for September was 69.6 degrees
at the Norton Water Plant.

While September featured near average temps, rainfall amounts varied from below to above average ( depending upon location ).

September 9, 2013
Above The Highlands
Majestic Beauty of Late Evening Thunderhead
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

The continued dominance of the rainfall pattern by convection during September was a major reason for varied rain amounts across the highlands.

September 9, 2013
Heavenly Light Illuminates A Giant In The Sky
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

It was early September when the first blushes of autumn color began to appear in the highlands, with an array of cool nights being observed amid mid-upper elevations, above 2000 feet, over top a persistently foggy layer at lower elevations.

September 2013 Weather Highlights
Chilly Nights Featured At Mid-Upper Elevations

September 8, 2013
Long Ridge of Tennessee Valley Divide
Rainbow Beauty Accentuated By Autumn Blush
Photograph by Wayne Riner - © All Rights Reserved.

Wayne Riner Photograph Thoughts...
"The light evening rain provided a colorful end to the day. A maple at the edge of the pasture joins in with color of its own."

September 29, 2013
Elevation 3149 feet In Northwest Dickenson County
Morning View From Birch Knob of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

September Rainfall Totals
( Upper Tennessee & Ohio River Basins )

Richlands: 2.22"

Burkes Garden: 2.67"

Grundy: 3.05"

Clintwood 1 W: 3.08"

( Northern Base of High Knob Massif )
City of Norton WP: 3.15"

( South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif )
Big Stone Gap WP: 3.39"

( Toms Creek of Guest River )
Coeburn Filter Plant: 3.46"

( High Knob Massif )
Big Cherry Dam: 3.91"

( VDOT Station - NW Flank Massif )
Little Stone Mountain: 4.29"

( 6.2 air miles NNE Gate City )
Fort Blackmore 4 SE: 4.32"

( High Knob Massif )
Robinson Knob: 4.45"

( Long Ridge of Sandy Ridge )
Nora 4 SSE: 4.80"

Lebanon: 5.51"

September 29, 2013
Early Morning Perspective from 3149 feet
Autumn Color Capping Birch Knob of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

September 29, 2013
Looking South-Southwest Across Cumberland Block
Brightening View From Birch Knob of Pine Mountain
Photograph by Roddy Addington - © All Rights Reserved.

High Knob Massif capping horizon
along center & right side of view.

From Blizzard To Tornadoes
Powerhouse Storm Opens October

One year ago the big ticket storm was a lady named Sandy which struck near the end of October.

Superstorm Sandy
Historic Winter Storm Of October 2012

Although October 2013 has a LONG way to go, a big ticket storm wasted little time in leaving its mark on a large region from the Rockies and Black Hills into Tornado Alley of the Nation's Heartland.

Vertical Cross Section ( 47N 108W 39N 89W )
NAM Model Analysis At 00z October 5, 2013
From Thundersnow To Tornadic Thunderstorms

These vertical cross-sections are not meant to focus upon any given point, but rather to illustrate the changing nature of the atmosphere between Montana & Illinois during the early evening of October 4 ( after the EF-4 tornado struck Wayne, Nebraska ).

Vertical Cross Section ( 47N 108W 39N 89W )
NAM Model Analysis At 00z October 5, 2013

It was a different animal by the time this former monster storm system reached the Mountain Empire late on October 6.

Although the Storm Prediction Center thought about a
possible Severe Thunderstorm Watch for eastern Kentucky,
they decided not to issue.

( 8:00 PM Local Time )
NAM Model Analysis At 00z October 7, 2013
300 K Isentropic Surface With Isobars & Wind Streamlines

Observe how the 300 K surface plunges down from a high dome north-northwest of the Ohio River to much lower heights over eastern Kentucky & Tennessee, associated with synoptic-scale subsidence ( sinking ) and drying of air behind the cold front.

Mesoscale features included a 100+ mb change in the 300 K surface between northern Georgia ( where it was higher ) and eastern Tennessee-far southwestern Virginia where it was much lower.  The greatest implied rise being from the Atlantic Coast and Piedmont into southwestern North Carolina and northern Georgia where a batch of heavy rain was falling.

Note that streamlines do NOT indicate the magnitude of winds on an isentropic surface.  Also note that streamline convergence implies destabilization, while streamline divergence implies stabilization, of air on this 3-dimensional surface.

Synoptic-scale sinking of air dominated the western side of the Appalachians into evening hours of October 6, as illustrated nicely by this chart of the 300 K Isentropic Surface ( above ).

By 2:00 AM, October 7, small synoptic-scale 
rising had replaced the subsidence across far southwestern Virginia and much of eastern Tennessee where rain amounts of 0.25" to 0.50" ended up being well below model projections.

The greatest 1.00" to 2.20"+ rain amounts falling along the Blue Ridge into the New River and Roanoke valleys where a previously ascending atmosphere allowed for more rain ( both synoptic-scale and orographic subsidence preconditioning the atmosphere along the western slopes to receive less rainfall ).

( 2:00 AM Local Time )
NAM Model Analysis At 06z October 7, 2013
300 K Isentropic Surface With Isobars & Wind Streamlines

Historic Hurricane Graphics
For Lego-Robotics Team
( University of Virginia's College In Wise )

The Theory Of Hurricanes - Kerry Emanuel

NASA Enhanced Image - 1844z September 21, 1989
Hurricane Hugo Approaching South Carolina Coast
GOES Hot Stuff - Enhanced NASA Images

Hurricane Hugo was a monster that devastated 
the South Carolina coast, and many locations far inland, during the September 21-22 period of 1989.

Hurricane Hugo
NASA Visible Image At 2101z - September 21, 1989

*Note that NARR wind speeds were too low on the reanalysis and
a multiplier has been added to adjust speeds closer to reality on the following graphics ( although, MAX gust speeds were still well above these sustained MPH speeds ).

The MAX Flight-level wind gust in Hugo was recorded
above Bulls Bay, Sc., at 160 mph ( 71.5 m/s ).

( Surface Wind Distribution )
The Landfall of Hurricane Hugo In The Carolinas

Wind Speeds In MPH ( Red )
Vertical Cross-Section Through Eyewall
Hurricane Hugo At 00z September 22, 1989
( Just Over 3-hours Prior to Landfall )

Notable changes in storm structure can be observed in Hugo upon comparing cross-sections through the eyewall region before and after landfall along the South Carolina coast.

Wind Speeds In MPH ( Red )
Equivalent Potential Temperature ( Green )
Vertical Cross-Section Through Eyewall
Hurricane Hugo At 06z September 22, 1989
( Just Over 2-hours After Landfall )

Question 1
If 1x10^8 ( 100 Million ) Joules per meter squared of energy is required to bring the troposphere into thermodynamic equilibrium with the ocean, how many homes could be supplied energy for 1 year from the Atlantic Ocean ( 106,460,000 square kilometers ) if each household used the reported average of 14,000 kilowatt hours per year?

Question 2
If that much energy is potentially available for tropical cyclone formation, why are there not more hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin?

Super Typhoon Haiyan
Amazing NASA Images

NASA High Resolution DAY Image

NASA High Resolution NIGHT Image

NASA Colorized IR - 110713 at 1930 UTC

NASA Colorized IR - 110713 at 2030 UTC

NASA Colorized IR - 110713 at 2130 UTC

NASA Colorized IR - 110713 at 2230 UTC

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