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Downpours make for a soggy September

Wednesday’s rainfall helped push Medford toward one of its wettest Septembers in more than a century.

September is a typically dry month in the Rogue Valley, said meteorologist Ryan Sandler, but 2019 has been different. About 1.32 inches of rain fell in Medford over the previous seven days. An Evans Creek monitoring station documented 2.15 inches for the period.

On Thursday, much of Jackson County showed rainfall totals between 300% and 600% of normal for that weeklong period.

“We’re already at the No. 15 wettest September out of 109 years,” Sandler said. “So we could easily move up. It’s not going to take much. If we get wet again, we could move up in the top 10.”

A Sunday storm helped to drop southwest Oregon’s fire danger level to low. Then from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, 0.64 inches fell on Medford. Most of that rain fell over the course of an hour, between 6 and 7 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Ashland saw nearly a half inch that day. Fish Lake saw 0.8 inches. Howard Prairie was at 0.73. Emigrant Lake got 0.9 inches.

Pea-sized hail also was reported in parts of the Rogue Valley, along with seven lightning strikes across Jackson County.

“That was the most violent rain I’ve seen,” said southeast Medford resident Larry Mori, who was at his home when the storm rolled in. “It rained hard enough that we couldn’t see across the street. We couldn’t see for about three minutes.”

Then it started to ease up. When Mori and his neighbors peeked outside, they saw a large tree had fallen on a neighbor’s house. No one was hurt, and an initial sweep didn’t reveal much damage. On Thursday, the structure was still covered by a medley of limbs and leaves.

“It was like a vase had just tipped over,” Mori said.

The National Weather Service conducted a post-storm survey and found a handful of additional downed trees.

“Most of the gusts we got were around 20 mph or less,” said meteorologist Sven Nelaimischkies.

Despite its intensity and effects, the storm didn’t meet the criteria for a “severe thunderstorm,” at least the way the Weather Service defines such a condition. The winds weren’t strong enough (they need to be at least 58 mph), the hail nowhere near large enough (they need to be at least an inch in diameter).

“It was very localized, but an intense enough storm cell where it was putting down a decent amount of rain and some small hail,” said meteorologist Mike Petrucelli.

Dry weather is expected Friday and Saturday, with a weak and quick wet front forecast to move into the area Sunday.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com.

A tree fell on a house Wednesday on Queen Anne Road in Medford when a storm passed through the Rogue Valley. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune