Thursday, October 24, 2019

Autumn 2019 Peak_High Knob Massif

23 October 2019
Autumn 2019 Peak Color
Flag Rock Recreation Area of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

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Autumn color was in peak at elevations between 2800-3800 feet, as of 23 October, with an array of gorgeous color. 

The peak is yet to arrive at elevations below 2800 feet to contrast with past peak conditions above 3800 feet, along highest ridges, where many trees are bare or becoming bare.

23 October 2019
Gorgeous Pickem Mountain of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Autumn color is consistently good to great every year along mesic northern slopes of the High Knob Massif, with a featured corridor stretching from the City of Norton southwest along old U.S. 23 to the 
Big Stone Gap, where jagged cliffs break the forest canopy and add rugged beauty to autumnal scenes.  This outstanding color corridor extends onward to Keokee Lake in Lee County and to Cumberland 
Gap National Historical Park (especially its northern slopes)

The above is speaking generally, of course, with some high valleys above 3000 feet in the High Knob Massif also past peak where air temperatures have already been in the 20s prior to this week.

23 October 2019
Benges Branch Gorge of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Many northern species added to a mixed-mesophytic forest type enhances this color spectrum, with micro-climates embedded in complex, three-dimensional terrain being the foundation upon which this truly glorious autumn show is produced.

23 October 2019
Benges Branch Gorge of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

Given recent short-term drought conditions, there was some concern about how this autumn color season would behave.

Following a very wet year, September 2019 was the driest month ever observed at Big Cherry Lake Dam with only 0.63" of rain.

Ditto for the City of Norton with 0.65" of rainfall, and 
for the Town of Clintwood where just 0.24" of rain fell.

Monthly Total Precipitation
Big Cherry Lake Dam
(Elevation 3139 feet)

January
6.14"

February
12.50"

March
5.93"

April
6.64"

May
6.75"

June
10.68"

July
10.77"

August
4.15"

September
0.63"

October 1-27
4.04"

Summer 2019
(Jun 1-Aug 31)
25.60"

*2019 Total: 68.23" (M)
 (January 1 to October 27 Period)

(M): Some missing moisture in undercatch and frozen precipitation, with partial corrections applied for the 24.4 meter (80 feet) tall dam structure where rain gauges are located.

23 October 2019
Benges Branch Basin
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

The only missing ingredient at the Upper Reservoir this year was the high quality water reflections that come with a full lake, which has been drawn down for water usage as the main supply for the City of Norton.

23 October 2019
Benges Branch Basin
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

23 October 2019
Benges Branch Basin
Upper Norton Reservoir of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

23 October 2019
View From Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A dry, low dewpoint atmosphere, generated great visibility with the Black Mountains in western North Carolina, and Mount Mitchell, visible along the far 
(left) horizon beyond the Tennessee Valley.

23 October 2019
Looking Across High Knob Lake Basin
View From Eagle Knob Toward Mt. Mitchell
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

23 October 2019
Roan Mountain On Distant Horizon
Looking From High Knob Lookout Tower
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

23 October 2019
Looking Southeast Across High Knob Massif
Mount Rogers-Whitetop Mountain On Left Horizon
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

22 October 2019
Adam Childress Farm
Base of Pine Mountain Near Sunset
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

A setting sun made Pine Mountain appear to have 
more color than was actually present late on 22 October, however, this created picturesque scenes along Route 611 in northern Dickenson County of far southwestern Virginia (beneath crystal clear skies).

22 October 2019
Adam Childress Farm
Base of Pine Mountain Near Sunset
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved

22 October 2019
Adam Childress Farm
Base of Pine Mountain Near Sunset
Photograph by Wayne Browning - © All Rights Reserved