Thunderstorms could clear the air later this week

Medford's air quality remained moderate today, but the smoky haze that has choked Southern Oregon skies could lift a little later this week, weather forecasters say.

The National Weather Service office in Medford issued a special weather statement this morning predicting wet, slow-moving thunderstorms Wednesday through Friday across the region.

The statement said models show "a classic pattern for thunderstorms" with a drifting low pressure system and a flow of moist air headed for Southern Oregon and Northern California starting Tuesday. While it is too soon to say exactly where the storms might hit, periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected and wet weather will expand to cover most of the region by the week's end.

The moist, unstable air that spawns thunderstorms also should clear the air each afternoon, the statement said.

The expected rainfall should limit the risk of new fires caused by this string of storms, forecasters said in the statement. Rain could help the fires now burning across Southern Oregon, but the weather service cautioned that heavy downpours could cause flash flooding in recently burned areas, so firefighters will have to watch for that new hazard.

— Anita Burke


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