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A fire weather warning was in effect throughout the day and evening Wednesday, and there was very good reason for that.  Winds Wednesday afternoon were gusting to 52 miles per hour, just north of Weed, where crews are still battling the Boles Fire.  Although it will be breezy Thursday, wind speeds will pale in comparison to those of Wednesday, with gusts up to 25 miles per hour in northern California.  With all of the fires burning in the area, the showers we are expecting, and have already seen in some locations, will help a bit.

Measurable rainfall has been recorded near the Onion Mountain Fire, and in fact, some of the heaviest and steadiest rain Wednesday was seen in Josephine County.  As the rain slowly shifts eastward throughout the overnight hours into Thursday, the Happy Camp Complex and the Boles Fire will stand the chance at some much needed rain.

Fortunately, there haven’t been any lightning strikes in our area, although a few were recorded just south of Del Norte County.  There a chance of embedded rumbles of thunder east of the Cascades Thursday, but that’s about the extent of the lighting threat.  Showers taper off Thursday night and by Friday afternoon, temperatures will be back on the rise.  Middle 90′s are in the forecast for the Rogue Valley this weekend, but another cold front next Wednesday brings another shot at showers and cooler temperatures.

For more information, or to send me your weather pictures, head over to Facebook or Twitter.

Chief Meteorologist Kate McKenna

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“How much fast is lightning than sound?”

John from Mr. Ward’s 6th grade class, St. Mary’s School in Medford

The short answer is that lightning is MUCH faster than sound.  But the lightning bolt itself travels slower than the speed of light, which is the lightning bolt you see from a distance.  The speed of light is roughly over 670,000,000 miles per hour!  Sound travels at about 760 miles per hours, which is still fast, but compared to the speed of light, seems like a snail’s pace.  That why you see the lightning almost instantly, but it takes a while for you to hear the thunder.  As mentioned previously, the actual lightning bolt travels at about 1/3 the speed of light.

So, with that said, the speed of lightning is about 880,000 times faster than that of sound, or the thunder clap.  This comes in handy with the old rule for counting the miles between you and the lightning strike.  After you see the lightning, start counting until you head the thunder.  For every five seconds you count, that equals one mile of distance.  For example, if you count 25 seconds before the thunder, that means the lightning strike was about 5 miles away.

Great question, John!

Chief Meteorologist Kate McKenna

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WEED, Cal.– Fire Crews are assessing just how much damage was left behind from the Boles Fire. They are sifting through the rubble Wednesday, trying to find anything that may have been sparred. They are also working to make sure the area will be safe for others to enter. Downed power lines, hot spots, and possible blowing embers from gusty winds have fire crews concerned for people’s safety. Evacuation orders are still in place to the Angel Community and people living on Hoy Road. Some people are finding their way into to get a quick glance at what may be left behind. Fire officials said they realize this is hard because so many are not sure if their homes are still standing, but they ask the public to stay away for a little longer.


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NEAR GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Fire Crews are hesitating to let people back into the evacuated areas of the Boles Fire because they have not determined it to be safe just yet. Newswatch 12′s Kirstin O’Connor explains.

WEED ELEMENTARY PLAYGROUNDWEED, Ca. — At Weed Elementary, teachers said smoked filled the hallways and sparks began to fly just minutes after they realized there was a fire outside their doors. Administrators went back to the K-8 school Wednesday to assess the damage and see when they will be able to get kids back in classes.

Classrooms were damaged, and the playground was destroyed. They said when the Boles Fire began on Monday, teachers observed smoke and sparks in hallways and had to immediately make decisions to evacuate the school and get students to safety.

The superintendent, Kathy Emerson, visited Weed Elementary Wednesday and got a first-hand look at the damage.

“Of course we want to make sure it’s safe,” Superintendent Emerson said. “We want to have phones and water power, have roads open, make sure the fires are securely out. But we are hoping to get our students and staff back as soon as possible.”

Administrators also said the entire school will have to be inspected before classes begin. The high school only had minor smoke damage to the outside of the building.

Administrators said right now, a lot of the schedule is up in the air, but they hope to have staff back in the building as early as Monday and kids back in class on Tuesday.

smokeWEED, Ca. — Fire season has not been easy on Northern California this year. While the national attention has been focused on the Boles Fire, the region has been flooded with smoke from the very beginning. That has left people living for weeks in poor air quality conditions.

Three complexes, including the Happy Camp, July and Beaver Complexes have been active this summer. That is along with fires like Little Deer, that took off just east of Weed off Highway 97. The smoke from these fires and the dry conditions have left smoke in the area.

“We’ve had an unprecedented year of extreme drought and so because of the increased fire hazard, we’ve had more days of poor air quality than I can remember in the last thirteen years,” said Eric Olson, an Air Pollution Specialist in Weed, Ca. “As we stand here now in Weed, the wind blowing the dust and the ash from the fire adds to that, so it’s a weather related phenomenon.”

There are ten air quality monitors operating as a response to the wildfires. Air pollution specialists said the monitors will stay in place in Weed until the Boles Fire is in mop up stages.

9-16 bone marrow transplantPORTLAND, Ore. — A Eugene baby is one step closer to coming home after receiving a bone marrow transplant in Portland.

Monday night, 4-month-old Kai Knight, received a bone marrow transplant at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and Tuesday morning, just hours later, he was all smiles.

Kai has an immunodeficiency syndrome called SCID, so he needed the transplant to fight off infections.

His mom says he underwent 10 days of chemo before the transplant and has been in isolation at Doernbecher for seven weeks.

His parents say they found out about Kai’s condition because of a new requirement in Oregon to screen babies for this rare syndrome that went into effect just weeks before he was born.

“We’re really, really thankful that he was caught on the newborn screening because he was the first baby in Oregon actually to be caught on the newborn screening, and basically that just gives you a much smoother ride through the transplant if you can come in not ill,” said Kai’s mother Nyccolle.

She says Kai will be in isolation for another six weeks as his new immune system forms.

After that, they’ll live at the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital before they come home to Eugene.

Money-2SALEM, Ore. — Thousands of Oregonians will be getting a boost in their paycheck starting next year.

Labor officials announced Wednesday they’re raising the state’s minimum wage to $9.25, up from $9.10, starting January 1. Minimum wage employees working 30 hours a week will get $234 more next year.

Officials say it will help workers keep up with a rising cost of goods.

onion mountain sunsetNEAR GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Another evacuation advisory was added to the area of the Onion Mountain Fire, Wednesday. The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office said all people of Limpy Creek Road system from Riverbanks Road to the west should be prepared to evacuate. This is in addition to the ones that have been in place for a couple days now. All the advisories are a level one. There are no level two orders.

These all include:

1. The entire Pickett Creek area, including Picket Creek Rd., West Picket Creek Rd. and all roads off of those. Everything North of the Robertson Bridge on the West side of the Rogue River.

2. All of the Shan Creek Rd. system from Riverbanks Rd to the West.

3. Riverbanks Rd. from Limpy Creek Rd. to the Robertson Bridge.

4. All of Limpy Creek Rd. system from Riverbanks Rd. to the West (added Wednesday).

5. All of Taylor Creek Rd. (FS25 Rd.) road system from Galice Rd., including connection the to 2509 Road that enters HWY 199 at the top of Hayes Hill.

6. Galice Creed Rd. from Galice Rd. to Soldier Camp.

A community meeting will be held tomorrow night at the Fleming Middle School at 6:30p.m.

On Wednesday that fire is now up to more than 3,700 acres with 5 percent containment. Fire officials said this was about a 600 acre growth in the last day.

Smoke is limiting crews from being able to get up into the air for some parts of the fire. Officials said this may ground some aircraft.

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WEED, Ca. — The Red Cross shelters have relocated. There is only one shelter right now and it is at the Mt. Shasta Armory.

Red Cross supervisors said that between the two previous shelters at Yreka and Mt. Shasta High Schools they had over 100 people, but today at the Armory they are only expecting twenty people, as many community members have found friends or family to stay with.

Fire crews are doing damage assessments today, which will help Red Cross workers get more people back to their homes.

“As soon as we can get in and do damage assessments and verify what houses have burned, we will then start working with the clients, client casework, we’ll also be referring them to other agencies,” said Red Cross officials. “Letting them know what their choice are, what they can do and how they can get on the road to recovery.”

The Red Cross said the shelter will stay open as long as it needs to, whether that is days or weeks.

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