Summer 2017 Data

Summer 2017 Climate Data

Northern Hardwood Forest In Upper Elevations of High Knob Massif

The Meteorological Summer period of 2017 consists of the months of June-July-August.  The following data is courtesy of the High Knob Massif mesonet, part of the undergraduate research program of the University Of Virginia’s College At Wise ( UVA-Wise ).

Eagle Knob
Elevation 4188 feet

Average Daily MAX: 68.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 58.0 degrees
Summer MEAN: 63.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 77 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 46 degrees

Eagle Knob is part of three peaks ( locally called knobs ) that rise above 4,000 feet in the High Knob Massif, and a cluster of 15 peaks rising to 3,600 feet or higher in elevation within the 182 square mile ( nearly 120,000 acre ) massif area.
High Knob Lake of High Knob Massif – Peak of Rhododendron Bloom
High Knob Lake lies near the head of the 41.9 square mile watershed of Big Stony Creek of the Clinch River of the great Upper Tennessee River Basin.

High Knob Lake
Elevation 3527 feet

Average Daily Max: 70.7 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 55.7 degrees
Summer MEAN: 63.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 80 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 44 degrees

High Knob Lake is part of the High Knob Lake Recreation and Special Biological Area of the Clinch Ranger District of the Jefferson National Forest.
Turk’s-cap Lily ( Lilium superbum ) In High Knob Massif

Big Cherry Wetland Valley 2
Elevation 3248 feet

Average Daily MAX: 69.9 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 54.7 degrees
Summer MEAN: 62.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 78 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 42 degrees

Big Cherry Wetland Valley sites are situated in forest, forest edge, and open habitats to capture the range of conditions present along this important watershed area.

Big Cherry Wetland Valley 1
Elevation 3218 feet

Average Daily MAX: 72.6 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 53.8 degrees
Summer MEAN: 63.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 82 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 41 degrees

Big Cherry Wetland Valley is one of two upper elevation valleys forming the Big Cherry Lake basin and headwaters of the South Fork of Powell River ( a 40 square mile watershed of the Powell River of the Upper Tennessee River Basin ).

Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4
Elevation 3186 feet

Average Daily MAX: 75.3 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 51.9 degrees
Summer MEAN: 63.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 85 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 38 degrees

High Elevation Wetland In Big Cherry Lake Basin

Mean summer temperatures in both the High Knob Lake and Big Cherry Lake basins have run cooler than both notorious frost pockets of Canaan Valley ( in the eastern highlands of northern West Virginia ) and Burkes Garden ( in southwest Virginia ), with the nocturnal low temperatures of the open valley expanse in Big Cherry Lake basin running 1.4 degrees cooler than in Canaan Valley ( 53.3 degree average low ) and 1.1 degrees lower than Burkes Garden ( 53.0 degree average nightly temperature during summer ).

Although I knew this was possible from decades of past research, the development and collection of high resolution and very high quality temperature data is now documenting this striking trend with average low temperatures since January 1 in Big Cherry Lake basin averaging 1.5 degrees cooler than Burkes Garden and just 0.1 degree lower than the higher latitude Canaan Valley 2 station.
Any good student of Appalachian climatology understands that any place which can even hang close to Canaan Valley and Burkes Garden in mean valley temperature, and especially with nocturnal mean temperature, has to be considered climatically unique.  
Cove of Big Cherry Lake in High Knob Massif

Mean temperatures during Summer 2017 have run 10.0 to 12.0 degrees cooler, on average, than in the Tri-Cities of the Great Valley whose statistics are shown for comparison:

Tri-Cities NWS Station ( TRI )
Elevation 1519 feet

Average Daily MAX: 85.2 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 62.3 degrees
Summer MEAN: 73.8 degrees
Highest Temperature: 96 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 49 degrees

The average daily high temperature on Eagle Knob of the High Knob Massif was 17.1 degrees lower than observed at TRI ( 68.1 degrees versus 85.2 degrees ).  The highest temp recorded on Eagle Knob was 8 degrees lower than the mean daily high experienced in the Tri-Cities.

This striking difference was also exemplified by low temps, with the lowest summer reading of 49 degrees at TRI being above the average nightly low of 47.6 degrees recorded at the Big Cherry Wetland Valley 4 site during June.

Lower-Middle Elevations of Dickenson County, Virginia
Some other data for comparison from the lower-middle elevations in the surrounding region:

Clintwood 1 W NWS
Elevation 1560 feet

Average Daily MAX: 79.8 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 57.5 degrees
Summer MEAN: 68.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 91 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 44 degrees

Middle elevation ridges in Dickenson County were much milder at night, and cooler by day, than lower elevations.

Nora 4 SSE NWS
Elevation 2650 feet

Average Daily MAX: 77.9 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 62.2 degrees
Summer MEAN: 70.0 degrees
Highest Temperature: 88 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 49 degrees

Temperatures on the Wise Plateau, along the Tennessee Valley Divide, are similar to Nora 4 SSE ( also located near the Tennessee Valley Divide ) by day but tend to run cooler by night ( especially in places near drainages where cool air settles / the UVA-Wise recording site is along a S slope ).

Elevation 2520 feet

Average Daily MAX: 79.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 59.5 degrees
Summer MEAN: 69.3 degrees
Highest Temperature: 89 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 46 degrees

With the above official data noted, I ask all forecasters WHY would they ever predict the same ( or even cooler ) temps by day in Grundy versus the Norton-Wise and Nora 4 SSE sites outside of an highly anomalous weather situation?

Grundy NWS
Elevation 1170 feet

Average Daily MAX: 82.4 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 60.1 degrees
Summer MEAN: 71.2 degrees
Highest Temperature: 94 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 46 degrees
( 9 days at or above 90 degrees )

No days officially reached 90 degrees at UVA-Wise or at Nora 4 SSE during Summer 2017, while 9 days reached 90 degrees or higher in Grundy.  Any one living or working within this area already knows the above, and also knows any forecast showing the same or cooler daytime MAXS in Grundy versus Norton-Wise is wrong nearly all the time.  This also includes the Town of Clintwood, since days also tend to be cooler than in the lower elevation Levisa Fork Valley of the Town of Grundy.


Summer 2017 Rainfall Totals

Rainfall totals during summer were near average to below average, with a trend of below average June-July rainfall and above average August rain amounts.

Whitewater Gushes In South Fork Gorge of High Knob Massif

Whitesburg 2 NW Mesonet: 10.69″
UVA-Wise NWS: 12.77″
Grundy NWS: 12.98″
Clintwood 1 W NWS: 13.71″
Nora 4 SSE NWS: 16.29″
City of Norton Water Plant: 16.39″
Big Cherry Lake Dam: 16.87″
Flatwoods Mountain Mesonet: 16.98″
Coeburn Water Treatment Plant: 17.56″
*Eagle Knob of High Knob Massif: 18.40″
Black Mountain Mesonet: 19.77″

*Approximate total.  Wetter places within the High Knob Massif-Black Mountain corridor had 18.00″ to 20.00″ of summer rainfall.  Rain at Big Cherry Lake Dam was around 2.00″ below the average of the previous 9 summer seasons.

Actual totals varied across the area, as typical during the often chaotic convective season, with large differences over even short distances in many cases.

Nice Light Upon Whitewater Along The South Fork – High Knob Massif

Lake levels on all the water supply lakes from the Upper Norton Reservoirs to Appalachia Lake and Big Cherry Lake had dropped well below spillway marks by the beginning of August before a shift into a very wet pattern boosted most to overflow.  The summer trend is shown graphically by the stream gauge on Big Stony Creek of the High Knob Massif.

Outside of local downpours, stream levels had been in general decline during June-July before widespread wetness cranked up the whitewater to ROARING levels in August.
Big Stony Creek of High Knob Massif

August rainfall totals of 7.74″ at the City of Norton Water Plant, on the northern base of the High Knob Massif, and as much as 8.00″ to 9.00″+ in the high country, saved Summer 2017 from being much below average in terms of rainfall.