Peak Conditions

A cold rain's gonna fall on valley as new fronts move through
Snow on Mount McLoughlin may stay put longer this year as January is predicted to be the coldest but driest on record.

Acold front that had Medford residents scraping morning ice off windshields this week will ease its chilly grip today when a new front moves into Southern Oregon, bringing some rain and higher temperatures.

A weak system is forecast to move in from the Pacific Ocean and split its energy into two fronts that will veer north and south of Medford, where cool and light rain is forecast as early as this evening, according to the National Weather Service.

"It'll be a cold rain," says NWS meteorologist Jay Stockton. "The most will come (tonight) and Wednesday. Between then, it will be on and off rain, but light."

But that cold rain won't seem so cold after a week that saw morning lows in the 20s and a Thursday low of 20 degrees that set this winter's mark for the shortest stem of mercury in the thermometer.

Today's forecast high is 43 degrees, and it's not expected to drop below 35 degrees overnight, Stockton says. Monday's low is forecast to be a downright balmy 36 degrees, with chances of sprinkles in the mix.

The recent cold mornings have caused a lot of furnaces and woodstoves to run a little longer, but area plumbers report few problems with frozen or burst pipes.

"It's cold to us going outside, but it's not cold-cold for freezing pipes," Jacksonville plumber Dave Harter says. "Normally, people don't get into problems with pipes until you get temperatures in the teens for two or three days."

Owners of older homes built before tighter construction codes have the most reason to worry, and pipes that run within outside walls — typically kitchen sinks and the like — are the ones most likely to freeze. Harter says homeowners worried about their pipes can leave cabinet doors open so warm air can circulate there, or leave a cold faucet dripping slightly overnight.

Cold January temperatures require homeowners to find ways to keep comfortable without blowing the bank on heating costs.

Beth Bender, weatherization programs coordinator for Medford-based ACCESS Inc., suggests residents trim their heating costs by turning water heaters down to 120 degrees and setting thermostats to keep indoor temperatures at 66 to 68 degrees.

"That's about the most efficient and, hopefully, will still be comfortable," Bender says.

Stockton says low temperatures will drop back into the high 20s Thursday and Friday, triggering a period of cooler and drier weather throughout mid-January.

January's average high temperature in Medford is 46 degrees, with the average low at 31 degrees, Stockton says. The average precipitation for January is 2.75 inches.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or

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