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Medford's historic dry spell snapped

Until Thursday, the last time Medford had seen measurable rain was June 16, according to the National Weather Service. There were a couple “trace” amounts — rainfall of less than one-hundredth of an inch — during the 99-day interim, but nothing that counted. That changed just after midnight when rain started to fall, National Weather Service meteorologist Sven Nelaimischkies said.

At 1:59 a.m., the one-hundredth of an inch qualifying mark was hit at the Medford airport. By 7 a.m., three-hundredths of an inch had been measured at the Medford airport, according to the National Weather Service — not much, but enough to snap the streak before it advanced into triple-digit territory.

Ninety-nine days tied 1987 and 1949 for Medford’s fourth-longest run without measurable rain in the last 129 years. Those years ended their streaks on Halloween and Sept. 7, respectively. The longest streak, 112 days, came in 1929 and ended Oct. 5 that year.

The moisture is helpful for firefighters on Jackson County’s South Obenchain and Grizzly Creek fires, but not enough to reach the lauded 100% containment mark. The South Obenchain fire area received about one-fifth of an inch of rain, said Oregon Department of Forestry spokeswoman Natalie Weber.

“Really any amount helps in subtle ways,” she said. “But it wasn’t near close enough to put out the fire. We still have a lot of work to do.”

The South Obenchain fire, which started Sept. 8 near Eagle Point, was 85% contained Thursday. Mop up and repair work continues within the interior. Repairs include cleanup of dozer lines, fence repairs and installation of water bars, which impede the flow of rain water down trails. The 325-acre Grizzly Creek fire, which sparked Sept. 4 near Howard Prairie, remained at 90% containment Thursday.

Rain fell across much of Jackson County, ranging from Medford’s thimbleful to nearly six-tenths of inch in northern Jackson County.

But don’t go into sweater-and-soup mode just yet. Conditions are expected to warm right back up by early next week, Nelaimischkies said. There’s a chance for a bit more rain Friday in parts of the region, forecasters said, but highs in the mid-90s are expected Monday through at least Thursday.

“We go into October still feeling like summer,” Nelaimischkies said.

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

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