Monday, June 1, 2020

Early Summer 2020_High Knob Massif


Dawn Of Meteorological Summer 2020
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Observe earlier spring conditions lingering where cold air collects on 
the basin floor, along lower portions of above view, and surrounding 
High Knob Lake in photographs below.  Note that some locations also
have brown or devoid leaves lingering from May freeze damage. 

Clear skies, light winds and low dewpoint air 
(large 850 MB dewpoint depression) generated 
a crisp chill into morning hours of 1 June 2020.

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So chilly, in fact, that frost developed within coldest locations from the High Knob Massif to Burkes Garden and Canaan Valley (where a freeze occurred).

High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Dawn Of Meteorological Summer 2020
High Knob Lake of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

High Knob Lake Recreation Area remains closed, but it is possible to hike down there either along the trail from High Knob Lookout or along Forest Service Route 239.

High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Dawn Of Meteorological Summer 2020
High Knob Lake of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Dawn Of Meteorological Summer 2020
High Knob Lake of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Dawn Of Meteorological Summer 2020
High Knob Lake of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Immature Leaves On Basin Floor
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

High Knob Lake Recreation Area
Dawn Of Meteorological Summer 2020
High Knob Lake of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

(Totals Listed By AM Measurement Format)
Monthly Total Precipitation
Big Cherry Lake Dam
(Elevation 3139 feet)

2019

January
6.14"

February
12.50"

Winter 2018-19
(1 Dec-29 Feb)
26.56"

March
5.93"

April
6.64"

May
6.75"

Spring 2019
(1 Mar-31 May)
19.32"

June
10.68"

July
10.77"

August
4.15"

Summer 2019
(1 Jun-31 Aug)
25.60"

September
0.63"

October
5.01"
( 5.89" to Midnight 31st )

November
5.20"
( 7.04" to Midnight 30th )

Autumn 2019
(1 Sep-31 Oct)
10.84"

December
8.52"

2019 Total: 82.92" (M)
 (January 1 to December 31 Period)

2020

*January
7.15"

**February
13.01"

Winter 2019-20
(1 Dec-29 Feb)
28.68"

March
9.55"
( 10.77" to Midnight 31st )

April
11.59"

May
8.73"
(6.90" on Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif)

Spring 2020
(1 Mar-31 May)
29.87"

June
7.48"

July
9.72"

Total Since January 1: 67.23"
[61.41"(M) on Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif]

Total Since December 1: 75.75"

1 June 2019 to 31 July 2020: 112.19" (M)

(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.  Corrections are based upon 86-months of direct comparisons between NWS and IFLOWS at Big Cherry Dam (including occasional snow core-water content data).

*General 7.00" to 8.00" at upper elevations (above 3000 feet) with 5.96" at the City of Norton Water Plant (official NWS rain gauge located at approximately 2342 feet elevation).

**Third consecutive February to reach double-digit precipitation totals within upper elevations of the 
High Knob Massif.

September 2019
Devil Fork Creek
Big Stony Creek Basin of High Knob Massif
Devil Bathtub During Driest Month On Record
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

The rescue of 20 hikers stranded by flash flooding, which made National Headlines, on Devil Fork during May is one of four recent peaks in stream flow (latest occurring 10-11 June 2020) in which the actual stream gauge on Big Stony Creek did not indicate a flash flood (but did exceed the RED alert level).  If you were along this trail, however, water level rises would have become dangerous to impassible as happened quickly during 
24 May 2020.

This most recent 10-11 June peak (not shown below) being associated with strong-severe thunderstorm development during afternoon hours of 10 June 2020, with up to 2.18" of rainfall being observed in this area.


Observed Stream Levels Since 1 May 2020

Elevated stream levels have been a consistent feature since December 2019, with more than 60.00" (63.98" at Big Cherry Dam) of observed precipitation in just over 6-months, 100.00"+ in just over 12-months (much more if also including days documented with fog drip and rime drop from trees that typical rain gauges do not capture, but that add to the annual water budget).


Many Dangerous Rises Since December 2019

Dawn Of Summer 2020
Forest Leaves Continue Developing
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Dawn Of Summer 2020
Forest Leaves Continue Developing
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Dawn Of Summer 2020
Forest Leaves Continue Developing
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Dawn Of Summer 2020
Forest Leaves Continue Developing
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Dawn Of Meteorological Summer 2020
Looking To Mount Mitchell & Black Mountains
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved


Big Cherry Lake Basin
Abundant Water Fuels Life 

Water was flowing in abundance out of the upper basin of Big Cherry Lake on 12 June, and little wonder, with just over 100" of total precipitation since the beginning of June 2019 (not including, as I always point out, the many days with fog drip and rime drop from trees 
across the basin).

12 June 2020
Big Cherry Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Chicken-of-the-Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

From fungi to ferns, life is trying to 
catch up to this bounty of moisture.

12 June 2020
Big Cherry Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Fertile Interrupted Fern (Osmuda claytoniana)
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Sunlight was shining just right through trees to highlight this fertile frond (middle frond above with brown, spore producing section in place of pinnae) in a cluster of tall Interrupted Ferns. 

A dozen or more other species were 
growing nearby, some just emerging,
such as Lygodium palmatum and 
Onoclea sensibilis.

12 June 2020
Big Cherry Basin of High Knob Massif

Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

A morning low of 42 degrees on 12 June gave way to gorgeous afternoon conditions with air temperatures in the 60s to lower 70s, setting the stage for even chillier temperatures into the morning hours of 13 June.

12 June 2020
Looking Toward Bell Rock Ridge
Wetland Valley Floor of Big Cherry Lake Basin
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Frosty low-mid 30s opened June on the basin floor, with an average nightly minimum of around 48.0 degrees for the first half of this first month of Summer 2020.

12 June 2020
Southwest Constriction Of Upper Basin
Nocturnal Cold Air Pooling Corridor
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Average nightly minimums of 31 degrees in April 
and 41 degrees in May combined to hold back spring regeneration, with leaves on many trees still growing and not completely mature.

12 June 2020
Looking Northeast Along Wetland Valley

Nocturnal Cold Air Pooling Corridor Of Basin
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved


Breeding Bird Survey_2020

24 June 2020
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Visible bare trees above are likely Ash (Fraxinus spp.), killed by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer since it arrived in the High Knob Massif 
area during 2016.

Although the Veery Thrush (Catharus fuscescens) remained abundant, the 2020 Breeding Bird Survey from the High Knob Peak past High Knob Lake and along Mountain Fork of Big Stony Creek featured an unusual abundance of Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) at elevations above 3300 feet.

Whether or not this is a trend, or merely a single season aberration, remains to be seen.  Wood Thrush is the most common breeding thrush across the eastern USA, especially at lower elevations.

24 June 2020
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Hermit Thrush's (Catharus guttatuswere 
again found after the official survey period.

24 June 2020
High Knob Lake Basin of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

A downward movement of the Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) has been a trend during the past decade, with numerous birds now documented during the breeding season around and below the elevation of High Knob Lake.

Least Flycatchers have also moved downward to breed around the 
Reservoirs of the City of Norton, in adjacent Benges Branch Basin.

24 June 2020
Eagle Knob Peak of High Knob Massif
Looking Into The Great Valley of Eastern TN
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) and Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis), both high-priority species, were abundant along this summer's breeding bird route.

Paying Homage To The Moon

3 July 2020
Moon Rise Above Cumberland Mountains
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

The Moon has a stabilizing impact on Earth's climate, specifically, by helping keep the obliquity (axial tilt) within a tolerable range.

Stabilization of Earth's Obliquity By The Moon

3 July 2020
Moon & Stars
Paying Homage To A Climate Stabilizer
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

5 July 2020
Full Buck Moon & Star Trails
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

Extreme variations in obliquity, without a moon, would force extreme seasonal contrasts to develop across mid-high latitudes.  Although the Earth would spin faster (without a moon) to possibly mitigate at least some 
of this effect, day-length would change and Earth's 
climate would be different without our Moon.

5 July 2020
Short-time Lapse
Looking Into The Milky Way
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

5 July 2020
Full Buck Moon & Star Trails
Wayne Browning Photograph - © All Rights Reserved

This section is under construction.  Please check back.

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