Tyler Copeland of Medford crosses East Jackson Street at Hawthorne after heavy rain flooded the intersection.

Wet July is rare in these parts

Watch out for pigs with wings — it's raining in Southern Oregon in July.

Half an inch of rain fell in Medford between late Tuesday and Wednesday morning, a rarity to be sure, but no records were broken because the rain fell over the span of two calendar days.

A band of thunderstorms swept through the valley late Wednesday afternoon, bringing even more rain to some areas.

Daily records for rain in July vary from next to nothing to more than an inch because summer precipitation usually comes from thunderstorms, which are notoriously spotty, said Chuck Glaser of the National Weather Service office in Medford.

Every once in a while, though, a weather system develops that brings the kind of steady rain that fell late Tuesday and early Wednesday, Glaser said.

The same thing happened in July 1987, Glaser said, when rain and cool days settled over Southern Oregon for a five-day stretch at mid-month. That summer, unfortunately, is better remembered for a Labor Day weekend lightning storm that ignited fires from Roseburg to Redding. Some of those fires burned into November.

The weather system that produced steady rain here also helped firefighters in Eastern Oregon and Northern California. Happy Camp, Calif., for example, had .83 inch of rain by 8 a.m. Wednesday. Firefighters appreciated the moisture, but they were concerned that the fire could flare up again when warm, dry weather returns, which could be as early as Friday.

The fire had burned through about 8,200 acres and was still just 15 percent contained Wednesday, said Scott Swanson, fire information officer.

"We still have a lot of work to be done," Swanson said.

Forecasters were expecting the Rogue Valley's respite from summer heat to be nothing more than a pleasant memory by the weekend, when temperatures are expected to return to the 90s.

Clouds should be scarce as soon as Friday, which happens to be the driest day of the year in Southern Oregon. No measurable rain has fallen on that date from 1912, when the National Weather Service began collecting data in Southern Oregon, until 1999, when a shower dumped all of .03 inch in the airport rain gauge — the most rain for a July 20 in Southern Oregon in 95 years.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail

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