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Wildfire season just five and a half weeks away as droughts continue

According to Natalie Weber, the public information officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest, Southern Oregon is about five and a half weeks away from the start of its typical wildfire season. This comes though as droughts across the southern part of the state continue to increase the chances of a wildfire.

Posted: Apr 22, 2021 5:30 PM
Updated: Apr 22, 2021 5:33 PM

MEDFORD, Ore-- According to Natalie Weber, the public information officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest, Southern Oregon is about five and a half weeks away from the start of its typical wildfire season. This comes though as droughts across the southern part of the state continue to increase the chances of a wildfire.

"When we start off a season this dry, it typically isn't a good sign," said Weber. "But condition can change very easily here in southern Oregon. For example, we could get some rain here in the next few weeks and that could change everything for us."

According to the National Weather Service in Medford, multiple counties across Southern Oregon including, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Douglas and Curry counties, are experiencing some sort of drought. This ranges from abnormally dry all the way to an exceptional drought.

In Medford, the National Weather Service says that the area is 2.91 inches of rain below what it typically experiences in a year, but is a little over nine inches under when it comes to a two-year model.

In Klamath Falls, that number increases to about a 12 inch deficit of rain in the last two years, which is why most of Klamath County is right now in either a severe, extreme or exceptional drought.

"This looks like a trend," said Ryan Sandler, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Medford. "If you look back at the last 25 to 30 years you would certainly see that this is a trend towards dryness."

For the upcoming wildfire season, Weber says that this means that more fuels will be available for the flames to consume if a wildfire starts.

"When it comes to a drought we rely on that moisture in the fuels to keep a fire from burning as quickly," said Weber. "So when you don't have that moisture and you get into that drought, that's when things can take off a lot faster." 

And when it comes to the long-term effects of the drought, Sandler says that we could expect to see longer and more severe wildfire seasons in the future.

"The start of the fire season will start earlier and the end will be later," said Sandler. "So that allows for a greater chance of having more fires and a worse fire season."

According to Sandler, from 2000-2012, there were only a few years of unhealthy smoke in the Rogue Valley. But since 2013, in six out of the last eight years, the Rogue Valley has experienced unhealthy smoke during the summer time.

"That's an indicator that fires are becoming more frequent, larger and are burning nearby," said Sandler.

Although Sandler understands that the drought does have an impact on future wildfires, he also mentioned that lightning strikes have also played an important role in wildfires starting, especially during the summer months.

According to forecasts on Thursday, wetter weather is on its way to Southern Oregon and will provide some much needed rain. But future models also show that dryer conditions could be returning to the area very soon. 

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 189162

Reported Deaths: 2514
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah37544577
Washington25097229
Marion21585304
Clackamas16908209
Lane12676145
Jackson10649132
Deschutes846573
Umatilla812184
Linn473067
Yamhill436875
Klamath421861
Polk367852
Malheur349061
Josephine329068
Douglas320570
Benton300019
Jefferson215033
Coos204232
Columbia168526
Union143923
Lincoln136720
Wasco136428
Hood River117430
Morrow109815
Crook104520
Clatsop9668
Baker93814
Curry6409
Tillamook6323
Grant5014
Lake4437
Harney3338
Wallowa1805
Sherman581
Gilliam571
Wheeler261
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3753173

Reported Deaths: 62154
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123474623977
Riverside2988724576
San Bernardino2963244677
San Diego2773233716
Orange2705694992
Santa Clara1186982084
Kern1088871367
Sacramento1040581670
Fresno1014911680
Alameda874071541
Ventura808121011
San Joaquin727841384
Contra Costa68279803
Stanislaus617761053
Tulare49514837
Monterey43506381
San Mateo41755567
San Francisco36577543
Santa Barbara34261453
Solano32698249
Merced31701454
Sonoma29951318
Imperial28295720
Kings22933246
Placer22532290
San Luis Obispo21243260
Madera16423242
Santa Cruz16062207
Marin14009228
Yolo13846209
Shasta12042226
Butte11907198
El Dorado10073111
Napa983381
Sutter9398111
Yuba621344
San Benito604663
Lassen569624
Tehama554558
Nevada467175
Tuolumne411564
Mendocino405948
Humboldt391539
Amador365047
Lake345843
Glenn238025
Colusa222416
Siskiyou215122
Calaveras211153
Inyo142538
Del Norte13637
Mono12794
Plumas7046
Modoc4944
Mariposa4457
Trinity3995
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned450
Medford
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 61° Lo: 40°
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Brookings
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Crater Lake
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Grants Pass
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