Don't be fooled (again) by the 'February Thaw'

Sure, these record-setting temperatures are nice ... but winter hasn't departed yet

February has teased the Rogue Valley with thoughts of spring, but winter is set to reassert itself next week, weather officials said.

The recent swath of sunny, warm weather ushered in near-record temperatures over the past few days.

On Friday, the high of 69 degrees tied a record in Medford set in 1996, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Brett Lutz.

A record high might have been set in Ashland, but weather officials won't know until the official data is entered sometime today, Lutz said.

"Highs in Ashland were somewhere between 69 and 71," Lutz said. "The previous record set there was 69 in 1902."

February has often seen spring-like weather, Lutz said.

"When we look back on snow level records on Crater Lake going back 80 years, we see that it flatlines in February, which means there's a lull in winter that happens sometime in February," Lutz said.

No one knows what causes the pleasant February weather, Lutz said.

"I guess you could term it the February Thaw," Lutz said. "More often than not, we've seen a relative break in the weather in February."

What is known is that three of the past four years have seen wetter than normal springs. This could be because of a weather pattern that has formed over the Pacific Ocean in recent years, Lutz said.

Winter will begin creeping into the Rogue Valley on Monday, as a storm enters the area, bring a colder air mass that will linger through the week.

Snow levels could drop to 2,000 feet later in the week, which could bring accumulation close to the valley floor, Lutz said.

Highs could drop to the 40s next week, with a mix of rain and snow on Tuesday, according to the weather service website.

The skies most of next week should cloud up with only intermittent spots of sun. A chance of rain is predicted for each day next week, officials said.

"It won't be anything too unusual for the winter," Lutz said. "But compared to this warm spell it is going to be a wake-up call that it is indeed still winter."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

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