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Rain and lightning hit Southern Oregon

Medford was greeted Tuesday by its first rainfall since June 11.

In spite of the pleasant surprise, the less than a tenth of an inch of precipitation is unlikely to have a major impact on the extreme fire conditions and drought the region is experiencing, according to Brad Schaaf of the National Weather Service in Medford.

“It'll help firefighters in the short term,” he explained. “But as far as long-term trends, we would need to see a lot more rain, and in general we would want to see a very healthy snowpack in order for it to have any effect on the long-term implications of this drought.”

Moreover, the benefit of the rain may be offset by fires started from lightning.

As of Tuesday morning, there had been 52 lightning strikes in Southern Oregon and Northern California, Schaff said.

Schaff said that thunderstorms could continue into the weekend, but are most likely Thursday and Friday when the temperature is forecast to reach triple digits.

“It’s an unusual pattern,” Schaff said. “Normally we see either the heat with a thermal trough or the thunderstorms with the southerly flow, but in this case we're seeing both together.”

The stormy weather is being pushed up from monsoon moisture in the American Southwest.

Schaff advises people to stay inside if it is thundering.

“If you hear thunder you are at risk of being struck by lightning,” Schaff said. “We always like to say, ‘When thunder roars, go indoors.’”

Reach Mail Tribune news intern William Seekamp at wseekamp@rosebudmedia.com.