Dear Tom,

I’ve been reading the 1930s Dust Bowl. Is that area more habitable now?

Phil & Susan Hagenah, Lake Geneva, Wis.

Dear Phil and Susan,

The Dust Bowl was the result of four droughts occurring in quick succession, with the worst conditions occurring in 1930, 1934 and 1936. A major contributing factor to the Dust Bowl was poor farming practices — namely, the destruction of native prairie grasses that exacerbated the effects of the prolonged dry weather. Without a protective vegetative cover, the soil was vulnerable to winds that raised massive dust storms. While intense heat and drought can still grip the area, irrigation and improved land management have helped sustain agriculture. Urbanization and increased evapotranspiration from crops have also provided some additional moisture to the air.