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MailTribune.com
  • Forecasters warn of lightning 'outbreak'

    Eastern parts of Rogue Valley, Cascades, Siskiyous at risk today for 'many fire starts in a short period of time'
  • Parts of the Rogue Valley, Southern Cascades and Siskiyou Mountains could see numerous lightning strikes and some rain today.
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  • Parts of the Rogue Valley, Southern Cascades and Siskiyou Mountains could see numerous lightning strikes and some rain today.
    The National Weather Service reported a red flag warning will be in effect from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today.
    A message from the Weather Service calls for "abundant" lightning with possible fire starts in the affected area, specifically eastern portions of the Rogue Valley, the Siskiyous, Southern Cascades and the Umpqua National Forest. Winds of up to 30 mph are also possible during the time frame.
    "It could be a pretty good outbreak," said meteorologist Mike Petrucelli. "The ingredients that we would need for a bigger outbreak of thunderstorms are going to be there."
    Officials said a low pressure front moving over the Pacific Northwest will combine with monsoonal moisture from the south, creating the conditions.
    "Scattered thunderstorms combined with existing very dry fuels will result in many fire starts in a short period of time," the Weather Service message reads. "Significant rainfall is expected with some of the thunderstorms, but fire spread is likely in areas that do not receive wetting rain and as drying occurs in the days that follow."
    The rainfall is expected to vary, with some areas not seeing a drop, others seeing as little as .01 of an inch, and others getting up to a quarter-inch of rain.
    The Weather Service initially issued a fire weather watch Monday because of the dry conditions, but upgraded the forecast severity to a red flag warning later in the day.
    Last week, the Oregon Department of Forestry upgraded the fire danger in Jackson and Josephine counties to "extreme." That means all power equipment use — such as chainsaws — is restricted on the 1.8 million acres of state, county, private and Bureau of Land Management land in southwest Oregon. Public restrictions on debris burning, campfires, power tools and smoking on ODF lands, instituted June 16, also remain in effect.
    Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.
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