Weekend saw near-record low temperatures

If it felt face-pummelingly cold in Ashland over the weekend, there's a good reason: The temperature fell to minus 3 degrees overnight Sunday and Monday, the second coldest temperature ever recorded there.

The record was minus 4 degrees, set on Dec. 9, 1972.

In Medford, the National Weather Service recorded a low of 4 degrees at the airport as Monday began, far above the minus-6-degree record set there on that Dec. 9 in 1972.

The cold, wet storm meant good news for Mount Ashland, which recorded 17 inches of new snow over the weekend. Marketing Director Rick Saul said the snow was on the dry side — only about 3 to 5 percent water content — which, when packed down, will create a base of 9 to 12 inches.

The ski area needs anywhere from 18 inches to perhaps as much as 40 inches to groom the runs for opening, depending upon the type of snow and wind conditions.

The low temperatures were expected to rise into the teens Monday night and into the mid-20s Tuesday and Wednesday. High temperatures are expected to creep up into the mid 40s by Wednesday.

But the cold, stagnant air is expected to linger through Thursday, prompting meteorologists to issue an air stagnation advisory.

"With the extreme cold air in the area creating some inversions, it's setting up the table for pollutants to get trapped here in the valley for the next few days," said meteorologist Mike Petrucelli. "It looks like it'll continue through the middle part of the week."

Air quality was listed as "moderate" in Medford and Grants Pass Monday afternoon.

Rain is expected to hit the region Thursday. Whether it will have an impact on diluting the lingering air mass is unknown.

"It looks fairly weak. Difficult to say whether it will do anything to that or not," Petrucelli said. "We'll just have to see how things play out the next day or two."

Officials at Jackson County Environmental Public Health said burning in non-certified woodstoves was not allowed Monday, with no visible smoke allowed from certified woodstoves. Department officials said they couldn't offer an extended forecast.

"We still kind of take it day by day," said Chad Petersen, program manager for Environmental Public Health. "We'll see what the next few days bring."

Inversions are expected to be the strongest during the night, though overnight low temperatures are expected to see a mild increase. Those with sensitive respiratory conditions such as asthma should avoid exertion outside.

"This is something we go through pretty much every year," said Oregon Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Byron Peterson. "It's just something to be aware of."

The icy conditions closed school districts, food pantries, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission office and other agencies Monday, delayed buses by 20 minutes or longer and forced Rogue Disposal to delay picking up garbage until conditions improved in the afternoon.

The Oregon Department of Transportation reported spots of ice and packed snow Monday morning on Highway 66, Interstate 5, the Siskiyou Summit and Highway 140. Drivers should slow down, allow for extra distance between vehicles, and allow for extra time to reach their destination, ODOT officials said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

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