Case Study Summary _ KSmith

There were many factors that contributed to the dust bowl that hit Guymon, OK, and surrounding areas multiple times in the 1930’s. A big factor was the extreme drought leading up to the event. The drought caused all vegetation to die, including the topsoil in Guymon that was being farmed. It was not one big drought though, what made the most impact was the 4 consecutive extreme droughts that did not give the area enough time to recover from the previous drought. The droughts occurred before and during the Dust Bowl, which contributed to how long the event lasted. The four droughts occurred during 1930-31, 1934, 1936, and 1939-40 (National Drought Mitigation Center, 2017) and was a secondary event that caused the primary event of the Dust Bowl.

The drought was also accompanied by extremely high temperatures and high winds. The drought and the high temperatures killed off all remaining vegetation and then the high winds caused the dusty ground to fly up into the air and accumulate into a massive cloud. The over farming in the region caused the topsoil to disintegrate to the point of very little to no topsoil. When the topsoil disintegrated there was nothing for grass to grow on or act as a cover for the dirt. The combination of the three main factors caused desert-like conditions (PBS Community Idea Stations, 2010) for 10 years in the Midwest.

The risk for this hazard is low now because when people stopped farming there and moved out the environment was able to regrow. Then when the grass began to grow and topsoil reformed the extreme dust clouds stopped. There is still Haboobs but most are more natural and expected, less extreme and considered minor. The advancement in knowledge and technology has been taken advantage of so we make sure this doesn’t happen again. Since this disaster was largely man made we can do more to stop it and make sure we don’t erode the soil that much ever again, especially because people are educated about this hazard and the right way to farm. This education has come through human experience and education starting at a young age about how to farm efficiently and more environmentally friendly.

Now if the people in Guymon were to encounter high winds, high temperatures, and drought, they would be more adequately prepared. We have more education regarding vegetation and topsoil now. We have also put up precautions in place precautions for drought, like damming up rivers for a steadier source of water. The only true mitigation was the advancement of technology and human knowledge, along with ecosystem recovery.