Ring of Fire
For many of you who live in the Midwest and Corn Belt you are probably familiar with what is known as the “Ring of Fire.” While the “Ring of Fire” is sometimes used to describe the ring of volcanoes in the Pacific Basin, in this case we are talking about the ring of thunderstorms that sometimes forms in midsummer that can be critical to mid to late season crop development in the nation’s midsection.
The same pattern that we describe as the summertime “monsoon” season on the Desert Southwest and Rockies is also the same pattern that is responsible for the “Ring of Fire.” As the Desert Southwest builds up heat in May and June, a natural area of low pressure forms in the Desert Southwest. The area of low pressure over the hot deserts, helps to draw high humidity air into the USA which in turn brings thunderstorm activity.
The satellite image below highlights this very nicely. Notice the stream of moisture (white) moving northward in the Desert Southwest and Rockies and then arching northeastward into the plains and northern Corn Belt. This arch is also known as the “Ring of Fire.”
The development of the “Ring of Fire” is critical bringing July and August rains to many key growing areas of the nation. However, sometimes the “Ring of Fire” can be too much of a good thing can cause flooding in the Midwest. Some of the bigger Midwestern floods in the early 1990s is a good example.