Mount Mitchell

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Mount Mitchell
Mount-mitchell-south-nc1.jpg
Mount Mitchell, viewed from Mount Craig
Elevation 6,684 ft (2,037 m)[1]
Prominence 6,089 ft (1,856 m)[1]
Listing Ultra
U.S. state high point
Location
Mount Mitchell is located in North Carolina
Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell
North Carolina, U.S.
Location Yancey County, North Carolina, United States
Range Appalachian Mountains
Coordinates 35°45′53″N 82°15′54″W / 35.764839°N 82.2651221°W / 35.764839; -82.2651221Coordinates: 35°45′53″N 82°15′54″W / 35.764839°N 82.2651221°W / 35.764839; -82.2651221[2]
Topo map USGS Mount Mitchell
Climbing
Easiest route Hike

Mount Mitchell is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak in the eastern United States. It was the highest point in any state of the United States until Texas joined the union in 1845. The nearest higher point is Lone Butte in Colorado, 1189 miles (1913 km) west. Mount Mitchell is located near Burnsville in Yancey County, North Carolina, in the Black Mountain subrange of the Appalachians, and about 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Asheville. It is protected by Mount Mitchell State Park and surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest.

History[edit]

The mountain was named after Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who determined its height in 1835, and fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, having returned to verify his earlier measurements.

The ascent of Mount Mitchell is now rather easy, since a 4.6 miles (7.4 km) road (NC 128) off the historic and scenic Blue Ridge Parkway runs nearby, and a 980-foot (300 m) trail leads through a conifer forest to the summit. The 40-foot (12 m) stone observation tower on the summit was torn down in late 2006. A new observation deck was constructed and opened to visitors in January 2009.[3] Also on the summit is the tomb of Dr. Mitchell.

Environment[edit]

Mount Mitchell
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
6.5
 
33
17
 
 
5.9
 
35
18
 
 
7.1
 
41
24
 
 
5.7
 
49
31
 
 
5.3
 
57
41
 
 
5.7
 
63
49
 
 
5.8
 
66
52
 
 
7.2
 
65
52
 
 
7.5
 
60
46
 
 
5.1
 
53
37
 
 
6.7
 
45
28
 
 
6.2
 
36
21
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: NOAA [4]

The mountain's summit is coated in a dense stand of Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest, which consists primarily of two evergreen species— the red spruce and the Fraser fir. Most of the mature Fraser firs, however, were killed off by the non-native Balsam woolly adelgid in the latter half of the 20th century. The high elevations also expose plant life to high levels of pollution, including acid precipitation in the form of rain, snow, and fog. These acids damage the red spruce trees in part by releasing natural metals from the soil like aluminum, and by leaching important minerals. To what extent this pollution harms the high-altitude ecosystem is debatable.[5]

While the mountain is still mostly lush and green in the summer, many dead Fraser fir trunks can be seen due to these serious problems. Repairing the damage is a difficult issue, as the pollutants are often carried in from long distances. Sources can be local or hundreds of miles or kilometers away, requiring cooperation from as far away as the Midwest.

Wildflowers are abundant all summer long. Young fir and spruce trees do well in the subalpine climate, and their pine cones feed the birds along with wild blueberry and blackberry shrubs.

The second highest point in eastern North America, Mount Craig at 6,647 feet (2,026 m), is roughly a mile to the north of Mount Mitchell.

Climate[edit]

Mount Mitchell. Highest peak east of Mississippi River. Elevation 6684 ft.
Sign atop Mt. Mitchell

The summit area of Mount Mitchell is marked by a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), with mild summers and long, moderately cold winters, being more similar to southeastern Canada than the southeastern U.S.. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 25.2 °F (−3.8 °C) in January to 59.1 °F (15.1 °C) in July. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the state occurred there on January 21, 1985 when it fell to −34 °F (−37 °C), during a severe cold spell that brought freezing temperatures as far south as Miami. It is also the coldest average reporting station in the state at 43.8 °F (6.6 °C) (based on data collected from 1971 to 2000) which is well below any other station.[6] Unlike the lower elevations in the surrounding regions, heavy snows often fall from December to March, with 50 inches (127 cm) accumulating in the Great Blizzard of 1993.[6] Snow flurries have been reported on the summit even in the summer months of June, July, and August. Due to the high elevation, precipitation is heavy and reliable year-round, averaging 74.7 inches (1,900 mm) for the year, with no month receiving less than 5 in (127 mm) of average precipitation. The summit is often windy, with gusts that can blow up to 178 mph (286 km/h).[7]

 

Climate data for Mount Mitchell (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 33.4
(0.8)
35.3
(1.8)
40.7
(4.8)
49.0
(9.4)
57.0
(13.9)
63.1
(17.3)
65.9
(18.8)
65.1
(18.4)
60.4
(15.8)
53.1
(11.7)
45.0
(7.2)
36.4
(2.4)
50.4
(10.2)
Average low °F (°C) 17.0
(−8.3)
18.2
(−7.7)
23.7
(−4.6)
31.3
(−0.4)
41.2
(5.1)
49.0
(9.4)
52.3
(11.3)
51.7
(10.9)
46.0
(7.8)
36.7
(2.6)
28.3
(−2.1)
20.6
(−6.3)
34.7
(1.5)
Precipitation inches (mm) 6.54
(166.1)
5.86
(148.8)
7.05
(179.1)
5.70
(144.8)
5.32
(135.1)
5.74
(145.8)
5.81
(147.6)
7.16
(181.9)
7.49
(190.2)
5.09
(129.3)
6.68
(169.7)
6.23
(158.2)
74.66
(1,896.4)
Snowfall inches (cm) 21.5
(54.6)
22.3
(56.6)
15.5
(39.4)
10.4
(26.4)
1.2
(3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.0
(2.5)
3.7
(9.4)
15.1
(38.4)
90.8
(230.6)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 13.4 11.9 13.5 12.1 13.9 14.9 16.0 15.4 11.4 10.1 10.7 12.8 156.0
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 6.6 6.2 4.1 3.1 0.3 0 0 0 0 0.4 2.0 4.9 27.5
Source: NOAA[4]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mount Mitchell, North Carolina". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  2. ^ "Mount Mitchell". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  3. ^ "Mount Mitchell State Park". North Carolina State Parks. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  4. ^ a b "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ Steve Nash, Blue Ridge 2020: An Owner's Manual (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), pp. 25-28, 61-63.
  6. ^ a b "Extreme Weather Records". State Climate Office of North Carolina. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  7. ^ "Mount Mitchell Webcam Activated" (PDF). The Steward. North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. August 2003. p. 3. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 

External links[edit]