Triple digits, moderate smoke in Medford forecast

·3 min read

Sep. 6—Temperatures in excess of 100 degrees are expected to last into the weekend, but local meteorologists say they see cooler temperatures on the horizon.

The Medford airport was expected to see a high of 105 degrees Tuesday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Smith, which would surpass a daily record set Sept. 6, 1923, by one degree.

Because of strong winds with gusts in excess of 20 mph during the triple-digit temperatures, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the Medford area Tuesday.

Other portions of Southern Oregon and Northern California were issued similar red flag warnings, including the area where the Mountain Fire is burning near Gazelle, California, in Siskiyou County.

Portions of Northern California, including Modoc County, have red flag warnings through Wednesday, but Smith said "the primary threat" will be from lightning.

There's a low chance — roughly 15% — of thunderstorms northeast of the Cascades and in Northern California. Although chances are low, if lightning strikes it'll be paired with excessive heat and tinder-dry conditions, according to Smith.

Gusty winds aren't in the forecast beyond "generally breezy" wind conditions Wednesday and Thursday, Smith said.

East winds are in the forecast for Friday, which could test containment lines on the Rum Creek Fire burning in Merlin, according to the smoke outlook for Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Medford's smoke forecast for Wednesday showed a slight increase in smoke, with conditions at "moderate" in the morning and afternoon, and "unhealthy for sensitive groups" in the evening and through the night.

Winds are expected to carry heavy "drainage smoke" to Josephine County communities nearer to the fire such as Galice, western Merlin and portions of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River corridor.

Smith said the winds contributed to the improved air quality in the Rogue Valley over the past couple of days.

"It's a double-edged sword with the wind," Smith said, adding that it can carry away pollutants or disperse them.

"They can help and hurt at the same time."

The larger reason for air quality hovering between "moderate" and "good" Monday and Tuesday was because the Rum Creek Fire isn't burning as much.

The heat wave will persist through the week but is expected to subside by the middle of next week.

A heat advisory is expected to last through Wednesday in the Medford area. Wednesday's forecast calls for a high of 100 degrees, three degrees below the record of 103 set in 1981.

The high will dip to 94 degrees Thursday, but the triple-digit temperatures will return Friday and Saturday, which Smith described as "very close to tying the old records."

Other portions of Southern Oregon and Northern California have record-breaking temperatures in the forecast, as well. Mount Shasta, California, set a new record Monday, according to Smith. The high of 101 beat a record set in 1955 by four degrees.

Mount Shasta's forecast for Tuesday was 100, which would break a record set last year by six degrees, and Klamath Falls' Tuesday forecast of 98 was slated to surpass a record set in 2020 by three degrees.

Relief is in the extended forecast, according to Smith.

"We're actually expecting some cooler weather next week," Smith said.

Possibly as soon as Sunday, if not by the middle of the week, the region will see "near normal" temperatures if not "cooler than normal."

"Normal" temperatures for the Medford area in early to mid September are in the upper 80s, Smith said.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.