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Storms bring lightning to Cascades

Just when firefighters seem to have things under control, a new system is delivering lightning strikes in the Cascades.

Aided by moister air, firefighters battled to gain the upper hand against a collection of stubborn fires in recent days from the California border to the Upper Rogue.

But storms brewing in California have mounted a new attack. A cell spewing lightning around Mount McLoughlin Sunday delivered 15 strikes, including six that were firestarters in the Lake of the Woods and Willow Lake areas.

 "The fire initiation efficiency is really high right now because there is a lot of fuel and the storms are not putting out a lot of rain," said Tom Wright, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford. "That's not just true of the Cascades right now — that's everywhere."

A storm raked Siskiyou County Sunday night and another round is expected for Northern California, where a red flag warning is posted, and the Oregon Cascades on Monday.

 "What we're watching for is the potential of some of those storms to drift out over the valley," Wright said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see some storms here, at least within sight."

The storms will hit from the southeast, he said.

"The stuff pops up in the afternoon and goes through the evening and dies out," Wright said. "What we have right now shouldn't make for too much excitement, but it will be picking up again Monday afternoon."

After a week in which Medford saw two days of rain, bringing relief from smokey skies, Sunday produced a high of 97 degrees, or six degrees above normal. The expected high for Monday is 93 degrees, with 92 to anticipated to end the run into the 90s on Tuesday. By midweek, temperatures should slip into the 80s.

"There is a different pattern headed this way, bringing cooler ocean air out of the Northwest," Wright said."It won't bring much precipitation, but the humidity will be a little higher."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.