January would be the last month Oregonians might expect a wildfire warning, but the National Weather Service just posted one for the southwestern corner of the state.
An air inversion is filling the valleys of the Medford area with fog. But the warnings are for the sunny slopes above the fog and below the snow line.
California has already seen wildfires and 27 of its counties have declared droughts.
Kathy Dellow is a climatologist at Oregon State University. She told OPB’s Think Out Loud that farmers, skiers and firefighters here are keeping a close eye on the situation, “We’re not doing much better than California,” she said.
“We have some of the same issues. We have an abysmally low snow pack, it was our fourth driest year on record and we’re seeing low stream flows.”
Dellow says Oregon’s snow pack is a quarter of normal. But a few big storms or a wet month could turn the situation around, as happened in 2005.
Otherwise, the threat of a summer drought looms large.