During the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s much of the Great plains of the United States was bone dry. Because there was little rainfall the ground was dry. Daytime heat is derived from the ground heating up from the sun and then heating the lowest level of the atmosphere from the warming ground. The amount of moisture in the ground has a great impact on this heating. A large percentage of the sun’s energy goose into evaporating the moisture on the ground surface. When the ground is dry to begin with the sun just gets to work warming things up. It’s not the sole reason that temperatures climb to record high levels – but it helps. During the 30’s in places like Oklahoma a significant number of high temperature records were set in part because of this dry weather phenomenon. Lack of moisture also has an impact of lowering temperatures. Moisture in the ground leads to higher humidity near the ground and that prevents temperatures from getting below the saturation point of moisture in the air. When there is little moisture temperatures can drop more. So, in additions to the extreme heat that we all hear about from the Dust Bowl – there was also extreme cold. On January 18, 1930 in Watts Oklahoma the mercury dipped to -27 degrees the coldest ever in state. It was the 1st day of string of 33 days when temperature averaged -2.8 degrees. 7.7 degrees colder than any other period since records commenced.
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