When it comes to Medford's hottest summer, 2013's average temperature finished in almost a dead heat with one from 46 years earlier, National Weather Service officials reported.
For the 72 days stretching from June 21 to Aug. 31, NWS officials said the average temperature, which includes daytime highs and nighttime lows, averaged 75.8 degrees, four-tenths of a degree less than 1967's record of 76.2 degrees.
"It's taking into account how warm the nights have been as well," said meteorologist Misty Duncan.
This makes this past summer one of the hottest on record since official record-keeping started in 1911. The summer of 2003 gets the bronze, when the average reached 73.7 degrees.
A loitering high-pressure system over the Great Basin that did not move for weeks was the main culprit. The system extended west from the Four Corners area near Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, covering most of the West Coast in a sweltering blanket.
"Lots of sun, lots of warm temperatures," Duncan said. "The high pressure system was basically the responsible party."
The heat peaked in July with two weeks of high temperatures that reached 95 degrees or more. The three major forest fire complexes that torched tens of thousands of acres in the region likely did not add to the temperature spike. In fact, forecasters said they may have had the opposite effect, as the smoke may have helped to absorb some of the sun's rays.
"The fires might have helped to moderate the temperature a little bit," Duncan said.
This year is also on track to be the second driest 12 months on record in Medford, with only 4.55 inches recorded since Jan. 1. Late August rainfall pushed the total past 1955's 4.28 inches.
"The little bit of rain we got a few days ago helped us drop down to second," Duncan said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.