Since You Asked

Growing up in Medford, one summer I remember the temperature got to 114 degrees. I think it was 1945 or '46. We had one tiny fan. I've lived here for 71 years, and I'm asking, is that still the hottest day on record for Medford. I adore this column.

— Jeannie P., via e-mail

And we love you, too, Jeannie. There's nothing like a question about the weather to set our meteorological sleuths off on a quest for truth.

Medford has seen some torrid summer days, and the one etched so deeply in your mind is July 20, 1946 — the day Medford felt closest to Hades. It was 115 degrees that day on the thermometer at the National Weather Service office, and that's the hottest temperature recorded here since the National Weather Service began collecting data around 1912.

The good news this summer is that we got nowhere near 115, and the likelihood that we'll see that kind of heat in 2008 is shrinking daily, as the sun heads south for the winter.

The majority of our 100-degree days occur in the 30-day period between July 15 and Aug. 14. That's fully a month after the longest days of the year, but it takes a while for the heat to build up in the soil. By late August, the days are getting appreciably shorter, so there's less solar gain. Even so, we've had triple- digit heat as late as Sept. 27 (2003) and as early as May 6 (1987).

The "hottest" day of the year is July 27. That's the day when the temperature has most often exceeded 100 degrees (20 times since 1912). It's also the day with the hottest average temperature (about 93.7 degrees). Our hottest summer, in terms of most 100-degree days, came in 1990, when we had 23 scorchers.

Everybody likes to talk about the hot weather once it's gone, and we're no exception. One of the worst hot spells we remember came in 1981. Between Aug. 7 and Aug. 10, the mercury soared to at least 110 every day. It was 111 on Aug. 7, 114 on Aug. 8, 111 on Aug. 9 and 110 on Aug. 10. Now that's heat!

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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