'Hot air from California' spurs high temperatures

Medford clobbered a 33-year high temperature record Wednesday and almost exceeded the high for Thursday, the National Weather Service says.

Rogue Valley residents sweltered under 92-degree heat Wednesday, the hottest it's been on April 30 since Medford weather data started being kept in 1911. The previous record high for that day was 86 degrees, set in 1981.

Meteorologist Brian Nieuwenhuis said the agency knew early on the record was on its way to being broken. The temperature passed 80 degrees at 11 a.m. and just kept climbing.

"We were sitting there going, 'Well, let's see how warm it's going to get,'" Nieuwenhuis said.

About two hours later, the heat surpassed the 86-degree mark. It peaked at 92 at 4:48 p.m., Nieuwenhuis said.

A mass of warm air under high pressure that shifted from the nearby south into parts of Jackson County brought the change.

"It was sort of sitting over us, but just to our west," Nieuwenhuis said. "Basically, hot air from California spread up north."

The change also brought 25 mph winds, which came into the Rogue Valley and caused the temperatures to heat up further as the air tumbled down from the nearby mountains and compressed.

Nieuwenhuis said there would have been numerous red-flag fire watch warnings if such hot, windswept conditions had happened in July, when vegetation is much drier.

The heat prompted the city of Ashland to encourage its residents to start conserving water now, saying if the drought continues, water curtailment measures will begin within the next few weeks, according to a Thursday press release.

To the north, Roseburg also beat its old April 30 high temperature record, hitting 92 degrees to beat 2004's 86. In Montague, Calif., the high reached 86, just surpassing the previous April 30 record — 85 degrees — also set in 1981.

Nieuwenhuis said the mass of air has since shifted to the east. The heat almost broke another record Thursday, scratching 90 degrees. The city's May 1 record — 92 — hasn't been broken since 1946.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

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