If you like heat, the weekend forecast will make you smile. The rest of us may head for the coast or a cool, dark cavern.

If you like heat, the weekend forecast will make you smile. The rest of us may head for the coast or a cool, dark cavern.

Forecasters are expecting the hottest temperatures so far this summer to settle over Southern Oregon during the weekend and continue into next week, with near-record highs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Wednesday's brief respite from the heat, when the high was a mere 95 degrees, will be a fading memory by Saturday, when forecasters expect a high near 105. Sunday may bring temps as high as 109, and Monday's high could reach 107.

Mike Petrucelli, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Medford, said the culprit is a strong ridge of high-pressure air that's stalled over the region, collecting heat as it sinks and compresses.

It's a condition that usually develops at least once every summer, and it can last for a week or longer.

That may well be the case this time. Petrucelli said the triple-digit heat could persist through Tuesday or Wednesday before marine air brings some relief.

Petrucelli said extreme heat can be dangerous for people who aren't prepared, and he encouraged anyone who plans to be outside, including folks headed to the Jackson County Fair, to make sure they drink plenty of water. Wearing a big floppy hat to keep the sun off your head will help, along with choosing light- colored, loose-fitting clothes that help ventilate the skin.

Record high temperatures for late July range from 105 to 109 on any given day.

July 27, which is Monday, is the hottest day of the year — at least by the law of averages. July 27 has an average high temperature of 93 degrees. It's also the day when triple-digit heat has occurred most frequently. There have been at least 20 occasions when July 27 has seen a temperature of at least 100 degrees since the National Weather Service began keeping records locally back before World War I.

Even temperatures in the 105-degree range fall well short of Medford's all time hottest days: 115 degrees on July 20, 1946, and 114 on Aug. 8, 1981.

That searing day in August 1981 came in the middle of a memorable four-day heat wave, when the temperature reached 111 on Aug. 7, 114 on Aug. 8, 111 on Aug. 9, and 110 on Aug. 10.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail:bkettler@mailtribune.com