They strike with little warning, making driving conditions hazardous. Blinding, choking dust can quickly reduce visibility, causing accidents that may involve chain collisions, creating massive pileups.
Sandstorms usually last only a few minutes, but the actions a motorist takes during the storm may be the most important of his or her life. The s drought is often referred to as if it were one episode, but it was actually several distinct events occurring in such rapid succession that affected regions were not able to recover adequately before another drought began.
The term Dust Bowl was coined in to describe the drought-affected south central United States in the aftermath of horrific dust storms. Although it technically refers to the western third of Kansas, southeastern Colorado, the Oklahoma Panhandle, the northern two-thirds of the Texas Panhandle, and northeastern New Mexico, the Dust Bowl has come to symbolize the hardships of the entire nation during the s. How bad was the drought in the Dust Bowl years?
In the s, drought covered virtually the entire Plains for almost a decade. Many crops were damaged by deficient rainfall, high temperatures, and high winds, as well as insect infestations and dust storms that accompanied these conditions. Although records focus on other problems, the lack of precipitation would also have affected wildlife and plant life, and would have created water shortages for domestic needs. What was the Black Sunday Dust Storm?
The s were times of tremendous hardship on the Great Plains. Settlers dealt not only with the Great Depression, but also with years of drought that plunged an already-suffering society into an onslaught of relentless dust storms for days and months on end. Have a safety plan in case one happens. Use the painted center line to help guide you. Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway. Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway. Make sure all of your lights are off when you park off the roadway.
Check for damage. Sandstorm Activities Lesson Plan: Here is a great lesson plan that teaches kids how dust is transported in the atmosphere. Lesson Plan: This lesson plan teaches kids how to track dust storms or sand storms.
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The Dust Bowl. Sandstorm Definitions. Sandstorm Safety. The first is the uneven heating of the desert surface by the sun, which creates variable updrafts that can rise high into the sky. And the second is a summer wind pattern that regularly carries moist air from the Gulf of Mexico into the Southwest — the technically accurate, but rather misleading name given to this element is the "Southwest Monsoon.
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With the setting of the sun, the fuel source that drives such storms is gradually throttled down, as the surface of the earth radiates less and less of the heat accumulated during the day. That process is gradual enough that the storms persist into the night, but at morning, the skies are usually once again largely clear, in anticipation of repeating the cycle once again. Thunderstorms that are formed when low and high fronts meet travel as the line of their contact progresses.
But all other desert thunderstorms, like Tip O'Neil's observation of politics, are essentially local. You can watch them as they form in the early afternoon, and hang silently in one place in the clear air, like hot air balloons on a still Arizona morning. Earlier on this trip, I camped in the same place for the better part of a week, and watched a small storm form day after day in exactly the same place. Each day it would begin to materialize about ten miles from my own perch at the edge of a mesa.http://fcam.my.to/23458-la-meditacin-gua.php
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The daily storm never moved from the time it began to form until it dissipated in the night. I began to look forward to seeing its arrival at about the same time every day, and watched it form and grow until, late in the afternoon, the rain would begin. Not long thereafter, its internal energy system would reach critical mass, triggering lightning and thunder. It never became very large, and each day its rain would fall in the same, narrow curtain, at most a half-mile wide.
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Its presence livened up my view, which was already impressive. Many such small storms never release a meaningful amount of precipitation at all, at least as far as the surface of the desert is concerned.
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When rain falls through very dry air, much, and often all, evaporates on the way down, creating the familiar, dirty curtain effect known as virga. If you see virga that reaches the ground, then the plants there are receiving at least some welcome moisture.
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But if the curtain ends in tatters before making contact, then the entire exercise is just a tease, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing for the parched desert below. When the tatters of virga hanging from a small rain cloud are twisted and slanted by wind, such a fruitless storm resembles nothing so much as an enormous, startled jellyfish, somehow transported into the sky by the puckish imagination of Douglas Adams of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fame , and left suspended helplessly in one place.
Desert storms, of course, can become larger, both in energy and in the amount of rain released as well as in physical size. Then, the classic anvil cloud forms and begins to consume the sky. It is the combination of the power of such a storm system with the immobility that is also characteristic that can wreak such havoc in the desert. When this happens, the face of the landscape can change dramatically and dangerously, as vast amounts of rain — perhaps inches within an hour or two — are released over steep surfaces with little absorptive capacity.
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Almost all of the rain therefore runs downhill, collecting itself into juggernauts of not just water, but of rocks, mud, trees, and even boulders as large as houses that thunder their way explosively down canyons faster than they can be outrun. Such flows sweep away everything in their path, and can re-sculpt the land in the process. When next you fly over the Southwest, look down at the enormous alluvial fans, thousands of feet deep, which extend out from the canyons below.
All of that material was once a part of the mountains below you, and was carried thence by such sudden storms. I wrote about the aftermath of one such storm here , describing how a single deluge a few years ago laid waste to most of the palm trees in a lovely Mohave Desert canyon I had visited not long before. Last week I watched a large, but not catastrophic storm form at sunset, and the process was majestic.
The rapidly expanding central cumulonimbus cloud was surrounded by towering cumuli that captured the light of the setting sun, at once immaculately white and illuminated from within by a borrowed, golden glow.