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Medford heat records threatened this weekend

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Sue Ponder, of Gold Hill, plays tennis Thursday at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park in Medford.
Rain expected Monday would break monthlong dry spell

With Medford setting a new heat record Thursday, and temperatures potentially reaching the low 70s this weekend, local meteorologists are thumbing through their almanacs checking for the possibility of high-temperature records.

The National Weather Service is predicting a high of 70 degrees Friday and Saturday at the Medford airport weather station, which would reach or exceed 1996 records of 69 degrees for the date of Feb. 11 and 70 degrees for Feb. 12, according to senior forecaster Jay Stockton with the National Weather Service.

“Currently we’re forecast to break the record tomorrow and we’d tie it for Saturday,” Stockton said.

On Thursday afternoon, Medford set a new record for the date, according to the National Weather Service.

“At 4:19 p.m., the temperature reached 70 degrees at Medford-Rogue Valley International Airport. This broke the record for February 10 set back in 2006,” the agency said.

Other portions of Southern Oregon and Northern California saw new records Wednesday.

Klamath Falls saw a high of 63 degrees Wednesday, breaking a 1951 record by one degree. Montague, California, saw 72 degrees Wednesday, breaking the 1951 record by five degrees.

Part of the reason behind the record-setting temperatures is the same high-pressure weather system that’s caused clear skies and cold mornings since early January.

The larger culprit, according to Stockton, is a lack of moisture in the air.

“The air mass is very dry,” Stockton said. “It’s very easy to heat and cool air that doesn’t have moisture.”

Medford last saw a trace of precipitation Jan. 19, but there’s been no measurable precipitation since Jan. 7.

On Monday, a reprieve from Southern Oregon’s dry spell is in the forecast; however, it’ll be a short one.

"We’re not expecting much rain, but there is a weak system coming in on Monday,“ Stockton said.

A “weak storm” is expected to draw less than a 10th of an inch of rain Monday afternoon and evening.

Afterward, Stockton said, “it’ll be dry again. It’ll be dry Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.”

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