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Record-threatening heat in Medford’s forecast

Triple digit temperatures are in Southern Oregon’s forecast for later this week that could match or surpass earlier records.

The National Weather Service issued a new Excessive Heat Watch for the Medford area that could bring “record-threatening” temperatures by the middle of the week as part of a heat wave that could last well into next weekend, according to meteorologist Tom Wright.

A high pressure system is bringing a new round of hot temperatures. Temperatures are expected to gradually rise, reaching about 102 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, and will keep rising as the week goes on.

“Wednesday through Saturday, we’re looking at 105 to 110,” Wright said. “We’re going to be threatening records, again.”

“Records in August are no fun to break,” Wright added.

Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be the hottest days. The current record for Aug. 11 is 109 degrees and according to Wright, “We’re going to be right there.”

The other reason for the heat advisory, which goes into effect Wednesday morning and lasts through the evening of Saturday, Aug. 14, is because overnight temperatures will stay warm with lows later this week forecast for the the upper 60s to mid 70s.

"Extremely hot days, warm overnight lows and the extended nature of this heat wave make it especially difficult to get any relief from the heat,“ the weather advisory states.

Although the excessive heat is hardly good news for a fire season marked by drought and earlier heat waves, Wright described the lack of winds in the forecast is “one silver lining.”

“Thankfully we’re not getting a lot of winds to fan these flames at the same time we’re baking them,” Wright said.

Five to 10 mph winds from the northwest are expected to blow southwest in “typical” short gusts throughout the week, according to Wright.

The Medford area saw air quality that reached “unhealthy” levels for hours at a time Saturday, but as of 3 p.m. air quality had improved one level to “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” according to officials with the U.S. Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program. They predict that the weather change will bring more smoke to Southern Oregon South Oregon Cascades region.

Contributing to the smoke is the Rough Patch Fire complex of fires burning in Douglas County, which grew by 387 acres Friday, reaching a combined 1,916 acres. The complex is 3% contained, and is marked by uphill runs, torching and spotting as crews work through challenges that include steep terrain and dry fuels.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest reported Friday evening that another four fires were declared “out,” and reported Saturday evening that a fifth wildfire had been extinguished. That brings the number of fires extinguished since last weekend’s lightning storm to 18. The storms sparked 46 fires in the region.

Resources including three 20-person crews, two 10-person suppression modules, 24 engines, two water tenders and a dozer are still mopping up some of the fires that are contained or controlled such as the 10-acre Maple Dell fire in the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District and the Bear Camp fire burning 4.5 acres in the Wild Rivers Ranger District.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.