Print this ArticlePrint this Article Email this ArticleEmail this Article
Text Size: A | A | A

Fire season is over in southwestern Oregon

 Posted: 12:10 PM October 16, 2012

Fire season ends today for Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands following significant rain that fell in the region Monday and overnight.

The storm, which dropped more than an inch of rainfall on certain areas of Jackson County, prompted fire officials to drop the fire level from "high" to "low" this morning.

"This was one of those (situations) where more water fell than we anticipated," said Brian Ballou, ODF fire prevention specialist.

National Weather Service meteorologists had originally predicted anywhere from one-fifth to one-half an inch of rainfall, which would vary countywide. As of 4:30 a.m. today, areas of the county saw anywhere from seven-tenths of an inch to nearly 11/4 inches over a 24-hour period.

"This is going to be a pretty significant wetting for the forestlands," Ballou said. "This'll really help to severely staunch the fire danger in the forests."

It also meant for a shorter-than-normal fire season. The average length is 142 days, and 2012's ended in 127 days.

All public-use restrictions, including time restraints on gas-powered, brush-clearing equipment, use of motorized vehicles on trails and barrel burns, have been lifted.

National Weather Service officials said the significant rainfall happened because of a phenomenon called an atmospheric river. During such an event, a sizable amount of moisture is pushed from the Pacific Ocean to land at a rapid rate instead of dissipating gradually.

"That's what this event kind of was attributed to, especially some of those higher amounts," said Mike Ottenweller, meteorologist in the Medford office. "It's all pushed into our area very quickly."

Ottenweller added this was an unusually rich rainfall for the first of the season. Medford's monthly rainfall average is about 1.13 inches. Last night, it saw nearly eight-tenths of an inch.

"That's almost as much as we should expect for the entire month," Ottenweller said.

Meteorologists also said to expect a drier next few days, with high temperatures reaching the mid-70s. A second, weaker system will be in the area late Friday, but most of the inland rainfall will be confined to Coos and Douglas counties, forecasters said.

— Ryan Pfeil

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.