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Good air quality in tomorrow’s forecast, rain by weekend

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneNeil Pawloski, of Medford, enjoys the better air quality while he rides his bike Monday at the BMX track at Bear Creek Park in Medford.

A rainstorm in Douglas County in this weekend’s forecast could have a major influence on the Medford area’s air quality for the remainder of fire season.

The National Weather Service is expecting rain across Southern Oregon potentially as soon as Friday, according to meteorologist Sven Nelaimischkies. Of interest in the forecast is the inch of rainfall expected to strike the wildfires eastern Douglas County between Friday morning and Sunday afternoon.

“Those are the ones that have been bringing the smoke into the valley,” Nelaimischkies said.

Until the rain falls, the Rogue Valley forecast calls for a reprieve from the smoke through Tuesday as winds are expected to push smoke east Monday afternoon, then blow smoke from California fires southwest overnight into Tuesday, according to Nelaimischkies.

Some smoke has already returned to the Medford area largely stemming from the Devil’s Knob Complex, the Rough Patch fire and the Jack fire, all burning in Douglas County, according to Nelaimischkies.

As of Monday afternoon, Medford’s air quality index was in the 80s — considered “moderate” — according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality monitor at the corner of Welch and West Jackson streets. Medford’s air quality was “good” for 17 hours between 6 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m. Monday.

Expect air quality to range Tuesday between “good” and “moderate,” according to the Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program’s smoke outlook for the South Oregon Cascades region.

The air quality is a marked improvement from the unhealthy status the Medford area last saw Friday, not to mention much of the month of August.

The Rogue Valley’s air could worsen later this week as the region starts to dry out, according to Nelaimischkies. Although it depends on fire conditions, the smoke is not currently expected to be as pervasive as last week.

By the weekend, however, meteorologists are watching a weather system that’s expected to bring rain and cooler temperatures across Southern Oregon.

“Right now it’s looking like Friday into Saturday,” Nelaimischkies said Monday afternoon, adding that they expect as much as half an inch of rain in Medford by Sunday afternoon.

Earlier that day, National Weather Service Medford tweeted that there was a 25 to 50% chance of rain in the Medford area this weekend. Nelaimischkies said that afternoon that meteorologists were growing more confident.

The rains are expected to reach coastal areas Friday morning, and the Medford area by Friday night, according to Nelaimischkies.

“We’re expecting much cooler temperatures as we get into the weekend as well,” he said.

Saturday’s high will drop to 73, and the temperature will drop to 68 by Sunday.

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