Huge Dust Storm from the Great Plains Sweeps across Eastern States
May 11, 1934 saw the culmination of a two day dust storm which removed massive amounts of Great Plains topsoil and reached cities as far away as Cleveland, Boston, New York City, and Atlanta.
A day earlier the dust clouds deposited 12 million pounds of dust on Chicago.
Located on the High Plains, the Dust Bowl area is semiarid, receiving less than 20 inches of rain annually. The region is prone to extended drought, alternating with unusual wetness of equivalent duration. During wet years, the rich soil provides bountiful agricultural output, but crops fail during dry years.
An unusually wet period encouraged increased settlement and cultivation in the Great Plains, but ended in 1930, and an extended and severe drought began which caused crops to fail, leaving the plowed fields exposed to wind erosion. The fine soil of the Great Plains was easily eroded and carried east by strong continental winds.
The Dust Bowl
Ken Burns' The Dust Bowl
Surviving the Dust Bowl (American Experience/PBS)