Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Early Summer 2019_High Knob Massif


June 6, 2019
High Knob Lake
High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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A cool and wet pattern has dominated early 
Summer 2019 with the highest temperatures observed through June 12 having reached only 
68 degrees on Eagle Knob and 70 degrees 
at High Knob Lake.

Highest temperatures observed so far in 2019 have reached 75 degrees on Eagle Knob, 76 degrees at High Knob Lake and 78 degrees on the southeast facing slope of High Knob.

*It is interesting to note that these highest readings observed on High Knob and Eagle Knob occurred at the beginning of May while trees were still bare (allowing more incoming solar radiation to heat the ground).

June 6, 2019
High Knob Lake Wetland
Clinch Ranger District_Jefferson National Forest
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Temperatures dropped into low-mid 40s, with wind chills in the 30s, during morning hours of June 11 and these were not the lowest observed so far nor will they be as chilly as those yet to come.

*Temperatures in high mountain valleys dropped into the upper 30s to lower 40s on June 4, marking the coldest temps observed since May 15 when readings fell into the upper 20s to middle 30s.

June 6, 2019
High Knob Lake Wetland of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Birds were active in the 60s of June 6,
with a few of the observed species including:

Cedar Waxwing
(Bombycilla cedrorum)

**Canada Warbler
(Cardellina canadensis)

*Veery Thrush
(Catharus fuscescens)

*Least Flycatcher
(Empidonax virescens)

Dark-eyed Junco
(Junco hyemalis)

*Black-and-White Warbler
(Mniotilta varia)

*Louisiana Waterthrush
(Parkesia motacilla)

*Scarlet Tanager
(Piranga olivacea)

Northern Parula
(Setophaga americana)

**Black-throated Blue Warbler
(Setophaga caerulescens)

*Hooded Warbler
(Setophaga citrina)

*Blackburnian Warbler
(Setophaga fusca)

*Magnolia Warbler
(Setophaga magnolia)

*American Redstart
(Setophaga ruticilla)

*Black-throated Green Warbler
(Setophaga virens)

*Red-breasted Nuthatch
(Sitta canadensis)

*Audubon Climate Threatened Species

** Audubon Climate Threatened 
Priority Bird Species

June 6, 2019
High Knob Lake Cove_Elevation 3500 feet
High Knob Lake Special Biological Area
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A significant aspect of the High Knob Massif is 
that it provides habitat for many species of birds, or avifauna, which are designated as being threatened by changing climate.  Many of these species are more common in Canada and northern portions of the eastern USA.

These are birds whose large-scale habitats, either 
in their summer breeding grounds, winter resident locations, or both, are threatened by the changing conditions due to global climate change as well as habitat destruction related to human activities 
(in many cases).

June 6, 2019
High Knob Lake
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A general 11.00" to 12.00"+ of rain from May 1 to June 10 have pushed 2019 precipitation totals into the 40.00"to 45.00" range in the high country, with 35.00" to 40.00" at middle elevations along northern flanks of the massif.

June 6, 2019
Beautiful Cove At High Knob Lake
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

This recent pattern has generated days of capping orographic clouds at highest elevations, featuring wind driven fogs, with standing wave clouds and occasional breaks on the leeside (with respect to 
SE flow) over Powell Valley in Wise County.

June 9, 2019
Looking South Toward High Knob
Orographic Clouds Capping High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise CAM

The weather research CAM at UVA-Wise has captured many extraordinary views during 
this wet June pattern.

June 10, 2019
Looking South Toward High Knob
Orographic Clouds Capping High Knob Massif
University Of Virginia's College At Wise CAM

June 10, 2019
Looking South Toward High Knob
Wind Shift To The NW-N With Cold Front
University Of Virginia's College At Wise CAM

June 11, 2019
Looking South Toward High Knob
Dry Air Advection Temporarily Breaks Wetness
University Of Virginia's College At Wise CAM

Dr. Phil Shelton and I did the annual 50-stop 
High Knob Breeding Survey Route between 0540 and 1140 hours on June 12, amid unseasonably chilly conditions, ending up at Bear Rock Heath Barren overlooking the gorge of Little Stony Creek.

June 12, 2019
Bear Rock Heath Barren
Little Stony Creek Gorge of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A couple of notable features this year were noise generated by gusty SE-S winds at upper elevations and by water in mountain valleys and gorges (we barely finished before rain showers began to redevelop yet again).

Daytime temps did not rise above the low-mid 50s at highest elevations, so despite wearing a short-sleeved shirt covered by a thermal, long-sleeved shirt and a UVA-Wise pullover hoodie I had chills and was actually shivering with 3-layers in June!

June 12, 2019
Bear Rock Heath Barren
Turbulent Clouds With Developing Showers
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Bear Rock Heath Barren features sheer drops along 
both sides of a vertical cliff line, capped by many interesting species of flora, as well as birds, and a nearly 360 degree view of the mountain landscape.

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