The Soggy Ring of Fire

January 29, 2016
Tropical Storm Bill
Browning Media

And it rains, rains, rains, That ring of fire, that ring of fire.” 

If you love country music, the Ring of Fire is the burning love of Johnny Cash. If you are into weather, it’s the type of weather that hit the US in the middle of June, when Tropical Storm Bill brought showers from Texas all the way to the Corn Belt and the East Coast. 

Bill finished the four-year drought in Texas and Oklahoma and brought welcome rainfall to the Corn Belt. 

Looking back, how did it all happen?

The soggy Ring of Fire around the High Pressure area of the South.

In the middle of June, Tropical Storm Bill developed off the coast of Texas. 

  • Thanks, to El Niño, the winds were too unfavorable to grow into a hurricane.
  • Indeed, the tropical thunderstorm had wandered through the hot waters of the Caribbean Sea, crossed Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and crossed half the Gulf of Mexico growing stronger, wetter, but unable to spin. 
  • Finally, close to Texas, it was out of the unfavorable winds that the El Niño was blowing into the Atlantic and it began to spin. It had barely had time to become a tropical storm before it bumped into Texas. 

All of that tropical heat and moisture rained out and Texas was flooded!

Tropical Storm Bill fell down, down, down, into a Ring of Fire. Source: Browning Media ©

Except for “Wild Bill”, the tropical storm, this type of pattern is not unusual for a late spring/early summer El Niño. 

  • Typically, hot air flows inland from the extremely warm Atlantic. 
  • As the heat builds up in the South, a High Pressure builds up in the South, blocking moisture and spinning it north.
  • Add to this the El Niño’s lift of the wet Pacific jet stream and the typical monsoon type late spring rains from the Gulf of Mexico into Texas, the dry South gets circled by a ring of storms as the Gulf moisture flows around it.
  • This time T.S. Bill got sucked into the monsoon and rode the merry-go-round.

Typical late spring/early summer El Niño weather Source: Browning Media©

Bill finished the four-year drought in Texas and Oklahoma and brought welcome rainfall to the Corn Belt. There were some floods, but when beef prices fall and you eat hamburgers this summer—thank the Ring of Fire.


About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.