The Dust Bowl is generally associated with extreme drought and heat. The "Dust Bowl" years of 1930-36 brought some of the hottest summers on record to the United States, especially across the Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lake States. For the Upper Mississippi River Valley, the first few weeks of July 1936 provided the hottest temperatures of that period, including many all-time record highs The string of hot, dry days was also deadly. Nationally, around 5000 deaths were associated with the heat wave. Several factors led to the deadly heat of July 1936. A series of droughts affected the U.S. during the early 1930s. The lack of rain parched the earth and killed vegetation, especially across the Plains states. Poor land management and farming techniques across the Plains furthered the impact of the drought, with lush wheat fields becoming barren waste lands. Without the vegetation and soil moisture, the Plains acted as a furnace. The climate of that region took on desert qualities, accentuating its capacity to produce heat. But also, like hot desserts there are also cold desert climates – the lack of vegetation and drought allows for cold air to sweep across these regions, unchecked and hold creating unheard of cold extremes. The situation that set up for several years in the plans states in the 1930’s created these extremes of both hot and cold. So, it was on the morning of February 17, 1936 when the mercury dipped to -58 degrees at McIntosh, SD... the state record low temperature. Later that very same year, at the height of the Dust Bowl on, July 5, 1936 the state record high temperature of 120 degrees was set at Gann Valley, SD.
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