Original National Weather Service Data Forms submitted by Roy L. Wells, Jr., for the official station of Wise 1 SE located on the campus of University of Virginia’s College At Wise.
The 1977-78 Winter Season
This was the second of back-to-back harsh winters in the mountains, and across most of the eastern United States, with even more snowfall and prolonged snow depth than observed during the 1976-77 Winter ( especially in upper elevations, above 3000 feet, of the High Knob Massif ).
The first big snowfall event of this winter was a SW Upslope Flow episode featuring 16″ of reported snow depth in Big Stone Gap and 11″ ( at 5 PM observation time ) in Wise on November 27. This event started a LONG snow cover season in the High Knob Massif.
Although snow had already been covering upper elevations in the High Knob Massif for a long time ( since November 26 in places ), snowfall on January 9 marked the beginning of another long and harsh wintry period that featured 1″ or more of snow depth at my observing station in Clintwood ( elevation just 1560 feet ) during the entire interval from January 9 to March 11.
A deep snowpack developed amid upper elevations of the High Knob Massif, with Otis & Nancy Ward measuring a mean depth of 42″ at their home in the Robinson Knob community of the massif ( elevation 3240 feet ).
*This contrasted with mean snow depths that reached 14″ at my observing station in Clintwood ( elevation 1560 feet ) where around 19 days during the winter featured double digit depths.
Steve Blankenbecler reported depths of more than 4 feet along northern slopes heading into Eagle Knob, where he said it was like “driving through a tunnel” to reach the site for Virginia-Kentucky Communications near the summit.
A general 73″ to 82″ of snowfall was observed in the Wise and Clintwood area during the 1977-78 Winter Season.
It is not known how much snow fell in upper elevations of the High Knob Massif during this 1977-78 season; however, given snow amounts during the past 25 years have tended to be double or more than observed in Wise and Clintwood it was a significant amount.
The 1977-78 Winter produced an official snowfall total of 26.2″ in the Tri-Cities of the Great Valley of northeastern Tennessee, with 21.1″ in Knoxville.