Tuesday's soaring temperatures triggered a heat advisory for Jackson and Josephine counties that is expected to remain in effect until 10 tonight.
Temperatures from Medford to Grants Pass are expected to stay in the triple digits through today. The heat should moderate a bit as the week progresses but remain at least in the 90s into the weekend.
Medford hit a high temperature of 104 degrees Tuesday, torching the average of 91 degrees but not threatening the record high of 107 set in 1917. Forecasters had initially predicted highs of 106 to 108 but dropped the expected high to 104 Tuesday morning because of cloud cover.
"High clouds in California spread a little farther north than we thought they would make it," said Ryan Sandler, a meteorologist for Medford's National Weather Service office. "That's enough to keep us a couple degrees cooler."
The scorching heat brings with it an increased risk of heat-related illnesses, especially for anyone spending time outdoors. Everyone is encouraged to stay hydrated, to stay in shaded or air conditioned spaces out of the sun if possible and to check up on elderly neighbors.
Residents facing the sizzling temperatures without air conditioning can seek relief at The Salvation Army store at 922 N. Central Ave.
The store set up a couple chairs and tables in the books department of the store as a cooling station. Anyone is welcome to stop by, take a break from the sun and read, said Jackie Agee, the development director for The Salvation Army in Medford. About 25-30 people a day are using the cooling station this week.
Salvation Army employees are also handing out free water bottles and fans.
"We give whoever asks, which is all types of people, a free water bottle," said Capt. Martin Cooper, leader of The Salvation Army in Medford. "We like to treat human beings like human beings."
While in past years the Salvation Army has sponsored a drive for donated fans, Agee said a $7,500 donation specifically for fans has helped them stay on top of the need.
So far this week, 91 fans have been picked up. Last summer, the Salvation Army gave away 270 fans, and Cooper expects that number to rise to 300 to 400 this summer.
Cooper said many of the people they help during extreme temperatures are seniors.
"Sometimes seniors can't get out as much and are sitting at home all day in the heat," Cooper said. "We do what we can do."
Southern Oregon Salvation Army is accepting donations of water bottles, fans or money. Donors can specify if they want cash donations to go toward providing heat relief.
While the soaring temperatures can be a drag, Cooper is quick to put things in perspective.
"Some places don't have air conditioning anywhere," Cooper said. "We're spoiled in America. We can go sit in a Burger King for an hour."
Reach Mail Tribune reporting intern Kelsey Thomas at 541-776-4368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.