Heat's here, and fire season will follow late next week

A string of warm, sunny days will continue through the weekend and prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry to declare that fire season will start in Jackson and Josephine counties on July 1.

The date matches the latest start for fire restrictions, records show. The fire season in 1998 also started July 1. In 2009, fire season started June 19.

Assistant district forester Greg Alexander said that a wet spring that brought lots of rain and even mountain snow in April and May helped delay this year's fire season.

Foresters start the fire season when vegetation becomes dry and fires become harder to control.

"It's still a lot of moisture at higher elevations, but in the valley, the grass is starting to cure out," he explained.

A persistent trough of low pressure that kept the weather cool here even as the calendar turned to summer will head east, clearing the way for a ridge of high pressure and the higher temperatures it brings to build over the West Coast, said Marc Spilde, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Medford office.

Temperatures in the Rogue Valley will near 90 on Saturday and edge into the low to mid 90s on Sunday. Sunday likely will be the warmest day, as another disturbance moves in early next week. A push of marine air will lower temperatures to around 80 Tuesday through Thursday, Spilde said.

Find fire season information at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/FIELD/SWO/SWOfire.shtml.

— Anita Burke

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