Friday, October 7, 2022

Mid-Autumn Peak 2022_High Knob Massif

 
05 October 2022
High Knob Massif
Color Peaking In Upper Elevations
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

An array of gorgeous color is developing across upper elevations in the High Knob Massif, above 3000 feet, where this weekend through next week and weekend is expected to offer the best color.
 
An acceleration of color changes is also expected at lower 
to middle elevations as frost and sub-freezing conditions develop during upcoming nights.

The potential exists for a grand climax to occur by next weekend with a large vertical elevation range in various stages of peak conditions (*).

*Past peak to peak at upper elevations (above 3000 feet) 
to approaching peak or peak at lower-middle elevations 
(below 3000 feet).

05 October 2022
High Knob Massif
Majestic Autumn Colorations
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

What day will the climax be is always in the eye of the beholder, but some trees are already becoming bare at highest elevations such that now is the time to enjoy color in upper elevations.

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05 October 2022
Pickem Mountain of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

A few places had actually already reached peak 
as of October 5, especially in high valleys near and upstream of Big Cherry Lake and within settings where cooling nocturnal air drains along slopes into basins and upper portions of gorges (*).

*Numerous nights near and below freezing have occurred in Big Cherry Lake basin which helped trigger significant mid-late September to early October color changes.

05 October 2022
Elevation 3200 feet
Flag Rock Recreation Area
Northern Slopes of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

Beautiful color is also developing in Flag Rock Recreation Area, and gradually spreading down the northern slopes to the City of Norton and the U.S. 23 corridor (Country Music Highway).

Autumn 2022 has to date been significantly cooler and drier than average, and this trend is currently expected to continue into at least mid-October when the potential exists for an unseasonably cold period to develop.

Precipitation Update

High Knob Massif
(Upper Elevations)

(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"
(10.48" to Midnight 31st)

August
8.12"

Summer 2020
(1 Jun-31 Aug)
25.32"

September
6.21"

October 
7.06"

November 
1.96"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 0.5")

Autumn 2020
(1 Sep-31 Oct)
15.23"

December 
6.22"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 34.0")

2020 Total: 96.80" (M)
 (January 1 to December 31 Period)


2021

January
6.35"
***(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 34.0")

February
7.42"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 19.5")

Winter 2020-21
(1 Dec to 28 Feb)
19.99"
(21.70" on Eagle Knob)

March
10.82"
(11.14" to Midnight 31st)

April
2.53"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 2.5")

May
4.54"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: Trace)

Spring 2021
(1 Mar-31 May)
17.89"

June
4.79"

July
5.55"

August
10.39"

Summer 2021
(1 June-31 August)
20.73"

September
5.82"

October
3.80"

November
2.23"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 1.5")
3 days with 1" or more depth

Autumn 2021
(1 Sep-30 Nov)
11.85"

December
4.63"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 1.0")
Several days with Trace depths

2021 Total: 68.87"
 (January 1 to December 31 Period)


2022

January
8.74"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 40.0")
29 days with 1" or more depth

February
10.32"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 3.5")
14 days with 1" or more depth

Winter 2021-22
(1 Dec to 28 Feb)
23.69"

March
4.23"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 13.5")
8 days with 1" or more depth

April
3.28"
(Eagle Knob Snowfall: 9.0")
5 days with 1" or more depth

May
7.98"

Spring 2022
(1 Mar to 31 May)
15.49"

June
2.18"

July
9.80"
(11.06" through Midnight)

August
7.97"

Summer 2022
(1 Jun to 31 Aug)
19.95"

September
2.47"

1-5 October
1.30"

2022 Total: 58.27"
 (January 1 to October 5 Period)

November 2019-October 2020: 102.34"

Autumn 2018 to Summer 2019: 91.21"

Autumn 2019 to Summer 2020: 94.44"

Autumn 2020 to Summer 2021: 73.84"

Autumn 2021 to Summer 2022: 70.98"

48-Month Annual Average: 82.62''
(Autumn 2018-Summer 2022)

(M): Some missing moisture in undercatch and frozen precipitation, with 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).

Water levels in the City of Norton dual reservoir system have been dropping with daily withdrawal being greater than recharge during recent weeks.

05 October 2022
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Upper Norton Reservoir (City of Norton)
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

Lake levels in general are doing fine and are expected to rise to overflow once the orographic forcing season kicks in during the November-December period as winter arrives.

05 October 2022
Benges Basin of High Knob Massif
Upper Norton Reservoir (City of Norton)
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

A variety of abundant maples add to the beauty of autumn in the high country, with specific species including:

Sugar Maple
(Acer saccharum)

Red Maple
(Acer rubrum)

Mountain Maple
(Acer spicatum)

Striped Maple
(Acer pensylvanicum)

05 October 2022
An Abundance of High Country Maples
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

Additional maples mainly restricted to lower elevations include:

Black Maple
(Acer nigrum)

Silver Maple
(Acer saccharinum)

Eastern Boxelder Maple
(Acer negundo)

05 October 2022
Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif
Mixed-Mesophytic and Northern Woods
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

Northern hardwoods intermixed in general 
mixed-mesophytic forests generate a truly rich color palette.  This adds greatly to the majesty 
of this special season in the High Knob Massif. 

05 October 2022
Majesty of Autumn
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

Both of these forest types (Northern Hardwoods and Mixed-mesophytic) are of global significance.

05 October 2022
Pickem Mountain of High Knob Massif
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

I always find it interesting to note how green 
wanes in many trees before they fully begin to display their "true" colors as photosynthetic carbon fixation is being shut-down.  This allows one with experience, at least, to see how many trees will be quickly developing color in coming days.

05 October 2022
Conifereous Trees Along Cliffs
Slope of Benges Branch Gorge
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

05 October 2022
High Knob Massif
Majestic Pickem Mountain
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved


Along Pine Mountain

10 October 2022
Northern Dickenson County
Changing Colors of Pine Mountain
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

It will likely be this weekend into next week (15-22 October) before color peaks along Pine Mountain which is mainly in the lower-middle elevation zone.

10 October 2022
Northern Dickenson County
Approaching A Peaceful Sunset
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

It was a peaceful late afternoon on the old Adam Childress farm where the final cutting of hay for 2022 was being turned for additional drying.

10 October 2022
Northern Dickenson County
Looking Toward Birch Knob
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

10 October 2022
Northern Dickenson County
Approaching A Peaceful Sunset
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved


Bark Camp Lake
(October 15-16, 2022)

Bark Camp Lake looked majestic for all the incredible Ultra Marathon runners of the Cloudsplitter race this year (as is typical).

15 October 2022
Water Elevation 2749 feet
Majestic Bark Camp Lake
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

Cloudsplitter 100

15 October 2022
Water Elevation 2749 feet
Majestic Bark Camp Lake
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

With calm winds prior to sunset the lake surface became like a fine glass, very reflective.  This was in contrast to winds so strong at the summit-level that the High Knob Aid Station tents had to be secured from blowing down.

15 October 2022
Water Elevation 2749 feet
Majestic Bark Camp Lake
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

The boundary layer generally decoupled, with a few intervals of recoupling and gusts along the ridges, around the Bark Camp Lake Aid Station for Cloudsplitter runners.

15 October 2022
Water Elevation 2749 feet
Majestic Bark Camp Lake
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

Many maple trees had already lost leaves around the lake, but it remained beautiful with trees along the drive into the lake basin being at peak color to contrast again with past peak conditions at higher elevations in the massif.

This made for a chilly evening and night, but increasing clouds checked the temperature drop and kept it significantly milder than it would 
have been under clear skies.

15 October 2022
Water Elevation 2749 feet
Majestic Bark Camp Lake
Wayne Browning Photograph © All Rights Reserved

As of Monday (17 October) forecast models were suggesting that the first snow showers and flurries would fall on Tuesday.  Not abnormal for here (at least above 3000 feet).


First Snow & Rime of Season
(October 18, 2022)

Elevation 4196 feet
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
First Snow And Rime of the 2022-23 Season
Cody Blankenbecler Image © All Rights Reserved

The first snow and riming of the 2022-23 Winter Season was observed in the High Knob Massif during 18 October, with sleet pellets down to 
at least 1560 feet in Clintwood.

Elevation 4196 feet
Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif
First Snow And Rime of the 2022-23 Season
Cody Blankenbecler Image © All Rights Reserved

Tree and leaves turned white along 
the crest and upper north slopes.

Just image if this had struck 2-3 days earlier runners of the Cloudsplitter race, all aids and EMS personnel, would have had to endure temperatures in the low-mid 20s with wind chills of 0 to 10 degrees (F) in gusts along the crest.

18 October 2022
Looking Across High Knob Lake Basin
Wally Smith Photograph © All Rights Reserved

My friend Wally Smith posted a beautiful photograph on his Twitter feed, with remarks about conditions he experienced while on the mountain.  Note color remains pretty but is 
well past peak at these upper elevations.

Elevation 2560 feet
Looking Toward High Knob Massif
First Snowflakes of Season in Wise
Courtesy of Computer Science-Mathematics Department

The first snowflakes of this season 
were also observed in Norton-Wise.


High Mountain Basin Update

Before looking at September-October, I want 
to briefly recap Summer 2022 where the mean temperature on the floor of Big Cherry Lake 
basin ended up being 64.8 degrees.

Summer nights cooled to a temperature 
of 53.6 degrees on average (*).

*A summer mean of 66.9 degrees was observed in 
Burkes Garden where nights cooled to 55.9 degrees
on average.

Big Cherry Lake Basin
Meteorological Summer

The Great Valley is used for comparison, with a mean summer temperature of 75.8 degrees in the Tri-Cities and nights that cooled to 64.5 degrees 
on average (11.0 degrees milder than Big Cherry).

Tri-Cities in Great Valley
Meteorological Summer

Early-Mid Autumn 2022

Moving forward, autumn arrived in earnest during mid-late September with the first frost and freeze in Big Cherry where the temperature dipped to 
27.9 degrees at this observation site (**).

Big Cherry Lake Basin
01 September to 28 October 2022

**A colder location in the basin that can get 1-2 degrees colder on good radiational nights did not have a sensor recording during this time period.  This implied that lowest temperatures could have been around 26-27 degrees in September and 16-17 degrees in October.

There was a large vertical temperature 
spread in the basin, especially at night,
throughout early-mid Autumn.

01 September to 28 October
Vertical Temp Differences and Decoupling

Nocturnal inversion formation forced the basin floor to become decoupled and different from the overlying atmosphere during 58.8% of total 
time during September.

Big Cherry Lake Basin
Decoupled Time on Basin Floor

The low temperature near 3450 feet elevation along the mid-slope above the basin floor dipped to only 38.0 degrees, more than 10 degrees warmer than coldest sites in the wetland valleys.

Big Cherry Lake Basin
Month of September 2022

Using the Tri-Cities again as a comparison, the mean September temperature was 67.5 degrees 
and the average night-time low was 55.6 degrees.  These readings were 11 to 12 degrees milder than the Big Cherry wetland valleys.

Tri-Cities in Great Valley
Month of September 2022

Mean 10 to 12 degree differences are huge
when applying to daily average temperatures.

Big Cherry Lake Basin
1-28 October 2022 Time Period

Best cooling nights generated 20-30 degree vertical temperature differences within the basin between colder floors and milder mid-slopes and rims.

Big Cherry Lake Basin
Vertical Temperature Differences

The mean temperature of 42.9 degrees on the basin floor of Big Cherry is in comparison to a mean of 53.8 degrees on the floor of the Great Valley in 
the Tri-Cities during 1-28 October.

Tri-Cities in Great Valley
1-28 October 2022 Period

This section is under construction.  Please check back.