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Medford rainfall measured at a dry spot

I am puzzled. Where exactly is the rain in Jackson County measured? When I compare it to mine (I take measurements in two different areas of my yard), often it varies quite a bit. The most recent rainfall was so out of agreement with the figure in the back page of Section A, it caused me to wonder. If I remember correctly, the Tribune listed just over 0.2 inches, while I measured more than an inch. I live beyond the point where McAndrews and Hillcrest join.

— Carolyn, Medford

We love a good mystery, Carolyn. And we’re betting you love a good answer.

Lucky for you, we have one.

We started by tracking down exactly which edition of the paper you meant when you mentioned the 0.2 inches. It was Oct. 1, when 0.23 inches were recorded in Medford. Well, at the Medford airport anyway.

Yes, that’s the answer to your main question. Measurements are taken at an area on the Medford airport grounds. And believe us, the National Weather Service — whose data Accuweather utilizes for the daily weather sections in the paper — knows about discrepancies such as yours.

“Rainfall is one of those things that can vary greatly from location to location,” meteorologist Charles Smith said.

He added that the airport has a “dry bias,” in that the measurements taken there are consistently lower than many other places around the city.

“(It) reports dry compared to the surrounding areas,” Smith said. “Even to our office.”

Meteorologist Ryan Sandler added that rainfall amounts of “up to a half inch or more up in the hills” were being reported to their office from area residents. And all the while, the airport measurements remained at a fraction of that.

The reason? The Siskiyous. Winds off that mountain range cause a drying effect for some parts of the Rogue Valley, and for some reason, the Medford airport is the area most affected by that phenomenon. That also helps explain why an area immediately to the north near White City is called Agate Desert.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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