In 1930s, the Dust Bowl occurred and greatly devastated the Midwest. There were four waves of drought that hit North America, spanning from 1930 to 19940. The drought effects were worsened by poor farming methods. Crops were destroyed and soils were left bare. When winds blew, huge clouds of dust were raised, and mounds of dirt covered everything, including houses. The dust caused suffocation in animals and pneumonia in children. This was not all as the storm worsened and the dust was blown to Washington D.C. It worsened the Great Depression and affected land productivity in the United States.
Weather patterns of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans changed 1930. The changes in weather caused the Atlantic to grow warmer and the Pacific became cooler. As a result, the air current that carries moisture towards the Great Plains from the Gulf of Mexico changed and the jet stream was weakened and its direction changed. Reaching the Rockies, the current dumped the rains, leading to the creation of tornadoes. The rain failed to reach the Great Plains when the jet stream moved south causing the drought.
Besides the change in weather, farmers also contributed to the occurrence of the drought. They cleared the tall prairie grass that covered 5.2 million acres in the Midwest, which used to protect the top soil. Since the land was bare, the remaining top soil was blown away by the strong winds. Parts of Midwest have not yet recovered from the ordeal.
The drought was worsened by the growing dust, which caused the sunlight to be reflected back into space before it could reach the earth. This caused the land to cool since the temperatures dropped. At the end of it all, the less moisture was not enough for the clouds to create enough rains.
The 1988-1989 drought affected 45% of the United States. It became one of the worst droughts that ever occurred in North America. In some areas, the biting drought was felt up to 1990. The blowing dust covered almost everything, causing some schools to be closed down, especially in South Dakota. When spring came, many weather stations recorded very low monthly data on rainfall.
Various devastating effects were felt by both people and animals. Starting with the forest fires, they consumed 793,880 acres of Yellowstone National park. The park was closed for the first time in history. To top it all, 4800-17,000 people succumbed to death as a result of the heat waves of the drought. The scorching effects of the drought were felt in the North West, the Northern Great Plains and the West Coast as revealed by NCDC. Besides that, the drought cost the U.S government an estimated $39 billion, according to NCDC. It was therefore ranked as the most costly in the history of the United States, despite the fact that it covered a relatively smaller area, compared to the Dust Bowl, which affected 70 percent of the country.
During the winter of 2011-2112, North America experienced one of the worst natural calamities of the modern era. Strong positive Atlantic and Arctic oscillation pushed winter storms from away from the United States in what would result in the drought. When spring came, there was less snow so the ground did not get enough moisture. Less evaporation occurred leading to low rainfall. Dry conditions were noticed within a short time since there was very little snow that melted. To worsen the situation even more, weak tornadoes were experienced and were later followed by stronger ones in the month of March 2012. Drought conditions increased as rainfall decreased.
In Summer, things moved from the frying pan into the fire. This was because the strong heat waves in North America increased the evaporation rates of water sources, meaning that that the soil was left with no water. With no moisture, enough rain could not form, and when June 2012 came, strong storms caused only little rainfall. Any rain water that would have saved the situation ran off quickly since the soils had been hardened by the droughts. In the long run, numerous death were reported and properties of an unknown value were destroyed. This was a big tragedy indeed.
For seven years, Texas experienced the worst droughts ever, which lasted from 1950-1957. Its effects were massive compared to when the Dust Bowl: occurred. The agricultural sector collapsed leading to huge losses. Furthermore, water supply planning in the state became ineffective and failed since there was no water to be supplied to homes.
As years passed, Texas people stared at the clouds hoping to see any signs of rain but none was there for seven years. Cracks were evident on the ground as the soil dried. The long dry spell forced farmers to sell their animals and move to urban centers hoping for a better life.
The Drought Effects
Some sources claim that the drought started in 1947. This is the year when the amount of rain received in Central Texas was greatly low. Those who owned cattle relocated to North Kansas to evade the harsh effects of the drought, in the 1952 summer. Unfortunately, the devastating drought quickly spread to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and the amount of rainfall received was 75% below normal. More than half of Texas received significantly little rainfall. The drought was felt all over, from the Great Plains to the south of New Mexico to Deep South. The Midwest was not spared either. By 1954, a total of 10 states had been affected by the biting drought.
Lack of water was not the only problem, as environment was also severely affected by juniper and mesquite. The overgrazed land was left bare and farmers lacked food for their animals. Besides that, the weak top soils had been eroded away by wind storms that occurred during the Dust Bowl period. Thus, this drought was one of the worst in the American history.
The United States is not new to drought. The country has been one of the most hit in history. The drought that occurred in the United States in 1983 was one of the country’s worst natural calamities. Accompanied by heat waves, the US Drought of 1983 affected various parts of the country, especially the Great Plains and the Midwest. The drought started hitting the country in late spring. Starting from June 1983, the states in the affected regions experienced intense heat, which lasted for months. The temperatures rose well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because of the dangerous and prolonged heat spells, the drought was declared a disaster in some of the affected states, such as Illinois and Indiana. In Kentucky, the drought was only second to the 20th century’s worst. Uncountable shrubs and trees hibernated into dormancy, and you the vegetation was nowhere to be seen. Hundreds of deaths were reported in various parts of Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri as a result of severe heat. The effects of the drought were also felt in Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic areas, such as the New York City. Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska also became victims.