May 28, 2014
In early 1978, a song entitled “Dust in the Wind” by a rock band known as Kansas shot up the Billboard charts. When Kerry Livgren penned those now famous lyrics, he probably never imagined that Dust Bowl conditions would return to his home state just a few short decades later. Sadly, that is precisely what is happening. When American explorers first traveled through north Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, they referred to it as “the Great American Desert” and they doubted that anyone would ever be able to farm it. But as history has shown, when that area gets plenty of precipitation the farming is actually quite good. Unfortunately, the region is now in the midst of a devastating multi-year drought which never seems to end. Right now, 56 percent of Texas, 64 percent of Oklahoma and 80 percentof Kansas are experiencing “severe drought”, and the long range forecast for this upcoming summer is not good. In fact, some areas in the region are already drier than they were during the worst times of the 1930s. And the relentless high winds that are plaguing that area of the country are kicking up some hellacious dust storms. For example, some parts of Kansas experienced a two day dust storm last month. And Lubbock, Texas was hit be a three day dust storm last month. We are witnessing things that we have not seen since the depths of the Dust Bowl days, and unless the region starts getting a serious amount of rain, things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get any better.
Over the past two months, very high winds and bone dry conditions have made the lives of ordinary farmers in the state of Kansas extraordinarily difficult. Just check out the following excerpt from a recent article posted on Agriculture.com…
The dust has settled, but for how long no one can be sure. At any moment, the winds may blow, moving the topsoil — soil that took Mother Nature generations to craft — even farther from its origin.
One farmer reckons that precious topsoil, native to his farm in Kearny County, Kansas, now sits in a field at least 200 miles away, blown there by the relentless winds of March and April 2014.
Affecting counties in western Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and eastern Colorado, it was reminiscent of what folks in the same region faced 80 years ago.
“There were several days we couldn’t see 100 yards in front of us,” says Tom Hauser, a farmer near Ulysses, Kansas. “We didn’t know where the dust was coming from. It was moving in here from somewhere else, just like it did back in the 1930s.“When heavy winds blow day after day but there is no rain, it creates ideal conditions for dust storms. According to the same article that I just mentioned, the average wind speed in the little community of Syracuse, Kansas has been over 50 miles an hour so far this year…
Since the beginning of 2014, the average maximum daily wind speed in Syracuse, Kansas, is 50.6 miles per hour, according to the Kansas State University Weather Data Library. In that same time, Syracuse has received just 1 inch of total precipitation.