Big Stony Creek, as highlighted later, drains from these high crestlines and High Knob Lake ( denoted by white, ice covered surface near photo center ) in between lofty ridges visible as it downcuts through the main-stem gorge and travels for more than 13 miles ( dropping some 2300 vertical feet ).
( Lower Elevations of Russell Fork Basin )
Clintwood 1 W – Elevation 1560 feet
Average Daily MAX: 54.1 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 28.9 degrees
March MEAN: 41.5 degrees
Highest Temperature: 76 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 3 degrees
Total Precipitation: 6.72″
Total Snowfall: 5.5″
Deepest Snow Depth: 12″
Days With 1″ or More Depth: 12
2015 Precipitation Total: 13.36″
( Northern Base of High Knob Massif )
City of Norton – Elevation 2141 feet
Average Daily MAX: 52.0 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 27.2 degrees
March MEAN: 39.6 degrees
Highest Temperature: 71 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 4 degrees
Total Precipitation: 8.43″
Total Snowfall: 6.0″
2015 Precipitation: 17.22″
( Along the Tennessee Valley Divide )
Nora 4 SSE – Elevation 2650 feet
Average Daily MAX: 52.8 degrees
Average Daily MIN: 33.0 degrees
March MEAN: 42.9 degrees
Highest Temperature: 72 degrees
Lowest Temperature: 6 degrees
Total Precipitation: 6.28″
Total Snowfall: 7.3″
2015 Precipitation: 12.17″
March began with a deep snowpack ( general 2 to 4 feet ) across the High Knob Massif that was solid enough to walk on top of ahead of heavy rains that brought significant flooding.
Although one life was lost in the flooding when a car was swept into the Russell Fork River, it could have been much worse if all the snowpack had melted away. Especially in Wise, Scott, Lee counties where a general 10″ to 15″ of snow depth remained in wake of heavy rainfall amounts in the High Knob Massif.
Snow depth variations from 6″ to 30″ were measured on March 9 in the High Knob Massif following 4.00″ to 5.00″ of rainfall. This was a high water content pack of snow with snow cores finding a total of 5.20″ of water in 11″ of snow depth ( 4.73″ to 7.09″ amid 10-15″ with locally much more in deepest areas ).
Days of ROARING water on steep creeks draining the massif were observed as more rain followed during the March 9 to 14 period.
This secondary surge of high water found homes again surrounded in the Tacoma area of Wise County, and other places, as a gush of water rolled downward from the high country ( thankfully, this snowpack was tenacious and very slow to melt away ).
Much of March 2015 had stream levels above the Yellow Alert Stage, with a large portion of the month above Red Alert Levels due to snowpack melt down with rainfall. Impressive given part of this creek has water held back by High Knob Lake & extensive wetlands in high valleys of The Glades.
*When whitewater levels reach around and above the Yellow Alert stage these steep creeks are a pounding ROAR, and become even more impressive when levels reach Red Alert or higher.
Snow cover of 1″ or more for 19 days during March pushed the seasonal tally to 94 days ( 13.4 weeks ) with 1″ or more of depth in High Knob Lake Basin of the High Knob Massif ( and adjoining northern slope basins ).
A general 8″ to 12″ of March snow above 3000 feet in the High Knob Massif pushed the seasonal snowfall tally into the 90″ to 130″ range above 3300 feet to nearly match observed totals during the 2012-13 Winter Season.
*Superstorm Sandy was the featured event during the 2012-13 Season with 30″ of snow depth measured on High Knob ( deepest of the winter ). The Fast & Furious Thundersnow Event in January 2013 was the other main event that deposited 10″ to 15″ of snow depth in just a few hours.
A precipitation update from Big Cherry Dam finds that March was the second consecutive month with 8.00″ or more of total water equivalent precipitation.
Big Cherry Lake Dam
Orographic Forcing Season Monthly Precipitation Totals
Observers: Gary Hampton & Staff Elevation 3120 feet
January-March Total: 19.07″
October-March Total: 38.03″
Average Per Month: 6.34″
*The February 2015 total was based mostly upon snow cores and measured snowfall, with the rain gauge busting amid extreme cold at the Dam and having to be replaced.
Big Cherry Dam has missing data due to evaporation between hand-measurements, which average one per week, and rain gauge moisture losses in falls of snow too deep for the gauge to physically contain.
The greatest precipitation totals in the High Knob Massif during March 2015 were between 9.00″ and 10.00″ across northern slopes south of the City of Norton, near heads of basins holding the Norton Reservoirs, High Knob Lake and Big Cherry Lake ( between 3000 & 4000 feet in elevation ).
*January-March precipitation totals of up to 21.00″ are figured for the area centered upon basin heads of Big Cherry Lake, High Knob Lake, and the Norton Reservoirs ( gauge total at Big Cherry Dam is greater than shown due to moisture losses; although, snow cores helped to make the February 2015 total better than those based upon raw gauge catch due to losses of snow in strong winds ).