What caused the Great Plains Dust Bowl in the 1930s?

Dear Tom,
What caused the Great Plains Dust Bowl in the 1930s?


Thanks,
Kirk Light
Hanover Park

Dear Kirk,

The Dust Bowl was the result of four droughts occurring in quick succession, with the worst conditions occurring in 1930, 1934 and 1936. That’s the conclusion of a study by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska. While the exact cause of the droughts is unknown, poor farming practices—namely, the destruction of native prairie grasses—greatly exacerbated the effects of the intense and prolonged dry weather. Without protective vegetative cover, the soil was vulnerable to strong winds that raised massive dust storms. The mitigation center believes persistent jet stream patterns that steered rain away from the drought areas is a likely cause of the droughts, but why those patterns occurred is unknown.

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