Hot fun in the summertime? ... Not this year

For only the fifth time since 1911 when the National Weather Service started keeping records in Medford, a Rogue Valley summer has passed without temperatures topping 100.

Friday's autumnal equinox closed the book on a season that didn't hit the triple digits, joining the years 1947, 1954, 1957 and 1989, records show.

This summer got off to a cool start, with both June and July recording cooler than normal temperatures, weather service meteorologist Jay Stockton explained.

In June, the average daily high temperature was 78.2, or 3 degrees below the 30-year average, which is considered normal. July's average daily high was 86, or 4.2 degrees below normal.

August warmed up with the average daily high hitting 91.3, which was 1.2 degrees warmer than normal. September brought in the hottest temperatures of the year, with a prolonged late-summer heat wave Sept. 3-11.

Throughout that stretch, highs hovered at 98 or 99 each day except for Sept. 5, when the top temperature was just 96.

With his eye on the record book, Stockton thought this year might match a record for the latest arrival of triple-digit temperatures.

But 1963, when the first 100-degree day arrived Sept. 8, held onto that title.

Hot on the heels of the equinox, which happened at 2:04 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service office in Medford released a special weather statement warning of a change in the weather.

Fall's first cold front will slide across the region on Sunday. The front will bring cooler temperatures and some rain. High temperatures will drop into the 70s and around a 10th of an inch of rain could fall west of the Cascades, the statement said.

Citing cooling temperatures, the Oregon Department of Forestry will drop the fire danger to "high" in Jackson and Josephine counties beginning Sunday.

Dropping fire danger from its current "extreme" status means reduced restrictions.

However, open burning of debris, including in burn barrels, is still prohibited.

Other rules are relaxed, but remain in effect.

Activities that risk starting fires, including mowing dry grass, using chain saws, and cutting, grinding or welding metal, are restricted between 1 and 8 p.m.

Campfires are allowed only in designated campgrounds. Portable stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels will be allowed in other locations. Barbecue and fire rings in Lithia Park may be used starting Sunday, Ashland Fire & Rescue officials said in a news release Friday.

Motorized vehicles are allowed only on improved roads, and smoking is allowed only inside vehicles.

More information about fire season restrictions on ODF-protected lands is available online at www.swofire.oregon.gov or by calling the agency office in Central Point at 541-664-3328 or in Merlin at 541-474-3152.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

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