Dust Bowl

Dust Bowl
1. the region in the S central U.S. that suffered from dust storms in the 1930s.
2. (l.c.) any similar dry region elsewhere.
[1935-40, Amer.]

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Section of the U.S. Great Plains that extended over southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and northeastern New Mexico.

The term originated after World War I, when the area's grasslands were converted to agricultural fields. In the naturally dry climate, overcultivation added to the effect of a severe drought in the early 1930s, when heavy winds blew the loose topsoil in "black blizzards" that blocked out the sun and piled dirt in drifts. Many farmers and ranchers left the region for California and elsewhere. The planting of windbreaks and grassland enabled the area to recover by the early 1940s.

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 a section of the Great Plains of the United States that extended over southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and northeastern New Mexico.

      The term Dust Bowl was suggested by conditions that struck the region in the early 1930s. The area's grasslands had supported mostly stockraising until World War I, when millions of acres were put under the plow in order to grow wheat. Following years of overcultivation and generally poor land management in the 1920s, the region—which receives an average rainfall of less than 20 inches (500 mm) in a typical year—suffered a severe drought in the early 1930s that lasted several years. The region's exposed topsoil, robbed of the anchoring, water-retaining roots of its native grasses, was carried off by heavy spring winds. “Black blizzards” of windblown soil blocked out the sun and piled the dirt in drifts. Occasionally the dust storms swept completely across the country to the East Coast. Thousands of families were forced to leave the region at the height of the Great Depression in the early and mid-1930s.

      The wind erosion was gradually halted with federal aid; windbreaks were planted and much of the grassland was restored. By the early 1940s the area had largely recovered.

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Universalium. 2010.

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