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Medford could see better air next week

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Jon Ellerbrook of Portland hits a softball Friday at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park in Medford.
Forecast calls for brief respite in Southern Oregon’s hottest summer on record

The majority of the state will be under an air quality advisory through the weekend, but local meteorologists predict that some of the smoke that has been plaguing the Rogue Valley could potentially lift over the weekend.

A cool front is expected to bring a “potential improvement" in the air quality as well as a short reprieve from the heat possibly as soon as late Sunday, but more likely by Monday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Shad Keene.

Air quality improvements will depend on an area’s proximity to wildfire, according to Keene, who said Medford “should improve some” because there are no fires burning near the city.

“If you’re next to the fires, forget about it,” he said.

Medford’s air quality index hovered around the 170s Friday, which is considered “unhealthy,” according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

On Friday, the DEQ extended its air quality advisory for Southern Oregon into Monday. Smoke from fires in Oregon, Washington, California and Canada is mixing with ozone in Jackson County.

The Southern Oregon advisory extends to Josephine, Klamath, Douglas, Curry and Lake counties, and DEQ issued similar advisories for the Willamette Valley, Central Oregon, Eastern Oregon and southern portions of Washington.

Because of the smoke, a heat advisory issued last weekend never delivered on the record-threatening temperatures that meteorologists predicted.

“The smoke actually had some benefit,” Keene said, adding that the weather service still saw multiple days over 100 degrees earlier this week.

The forecast calls for temperatures in Southern Oregon to drop "closer to normal for this time of year“ next week, with the high in Medford expected to be 88 degrees Tuesday. By Thursday, Medford will be back in the upper 90s.

“Not a long period of respite,” Keene said.

Keene said Medford is still on track for its hottest summer on record by a full degree.

Averaging Medford’s high and low temperatures together for the 73 days since June 1, meteorologists recorded an average temperature of 77.7 degrees. The prior record holder was 76.7 degrees in 2015.

Rounding out the Rogue Valley’s top five hottest summers were 2017 in third place, 2014 in fourth place and 2013 in fifth place. Meteorologists have been tracking records since 1911.

“The past 10 years have been hot,” Keene said.

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