|A RING AROUND THE SUN OR MOON
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
WEATHER FOLKLORE: "A ring around the sun or moon, means rain or snow coming soon"
APPLICABILITY: This lore most commonly works in the cool season and in the mid-latitudes. Mid-latitude
storm systems and fronts are more common in the cool season. It is also applicable to tropical storms
and hurricanes since there are thin high clouds around the periphery of the storm system.
ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION: As an upper level disturbance approaches or warm front approaches the clouds
tend to start off as high clouds. Over time the clouds gradually lower and thicken. Near the source of the
greatest synoptic lifting is where precipitation and thick clouds are most likely. The sun or moon will
no longer be visible once the clouds thicken too much.
The ring around the sun or moon is caused by ice crystals within thin cirrus clouds. The refraction causes
light to shine into a ring. Cirrus clouds are generally the first layer of clouds that are seen as a storm
PITFALLS: a. Cirrus clouds not associated with a storm system will produce the ring also. In these cases precipitation
may not occur.