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Is the Dust Bowl Returning?

Drought is causing worry for many farmers. Some farmers are giving up farming for good. Whole communities are praying for rain. Those who were around during the 1930's are remembering the infamous Dust Bowl of that era, when at least five inches of topsoil were lost from nearly 10 million acres.

Currently, the states that were part of the historic Dust Bowl are experiencing severe droughts. Oklahoma’s drought began in June of 2001, while in the northern plains the drought began several years ago. In eastern Montana, where the drought began four years ago, more than a thousand wheat farmers have given up farming. This spring, farmers in the community of Syracuse, Kansas, crowded into their school gym to pray for rain. Agriculture officials report that most of Colorado will not even have a wheat crop this year; and the state has had four times the normal number of wildfires just since January. Wyoming and New Mexico are being hard hit by drought as well; and New Mexico is also experiencing more wildfires than normal.

Of course, droughts are nothing new for this area of the nation. But, dust storms have returned, and with them the question—is the Dust Bowl returning?

The Reconnaissance Erosion Survey of the State of Oklahoma is a color map that was created by the Oklahoma Erosion Survey in 1934, and was published by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. It carefully delineates the types and levels of erosion that existed in Oklahoma.

The Report of the Great Plains Drought Area Committee is a federal government report written in August 27, 1936, for President Franklin Roosevelt. It describes the impact of the Dust Bowl, and what the federal government should do about it.

The U.S. Drought Monitor provides a map of the current drought status of the United States and a “National Drought Summary” that reports on conditions in regions and states. It also gives a weather forecast specific to drought areas during the next week. It is revised every Thursday.

The Oklahoma Climatological Survey offers a Drought 2001-2002 Update web page that focuses on the drought in Oklahoma.


The Reconnaissance Erosion Survey of the State of Oklahoma is available for download. There are 9 separate files containing images that have a resolution of 72 dpi at the map's original dimensions. (The original map is approximately 46" by 46"—too large to make downloading higher-resolution images practical.)

Just click on the map below to view and download a section. (If you wish to download a section without viewing, just right-click* with your mouse on each section and choose "Save Link As ..." from the menu. *That's control-click if you're using a one-button mouse.)

Remember, you'll need Section 8 if you wish to view the map's key.

Get Print Version of this Section Get Print Version of this Section Get Print Version of this Section
Get Print Version of this Section Get Print Version of this Section Get Print Version of this Section
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Click here to view entire map in one small section (116K).

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