November 10 – South Dakota Black Blizzard

Blizzards bring to mind snow whipping across open fields and blinding anyone who tries to forge a way through it.  But on November 10, 1934, residents of South Dakota experienced a very different type of blizzard.  The blizzard was named the Black Blizzard, because it was black soil and dust instead of snow.  In the midst of the Great Depression, the Great Plains were experiencing their own unique devistation.  Due to drought that killed the crops and made the topsoil light and powdery, the soul became easy to move.  And thus, these storms aggravated the light dirt and carried the dust and dirt into a blinding cloud.  The skies turned black with the clouds of dust and dirt billowing across the plains.  Within two days, the dust that had been stirred up in South Dakota reached Albany, New York.  This blizzard was not the first or the last of the Dust Bowl.  For almost a decade, the plains of the United States were ravaged by chocking clouds of dust that would rise and travel for miles upon miles.  Perhaps the Dust Bowl and Black Blizzard are best known for the terrifying pictures that accompany any history about these events, but their impact on farmers was even more terrifying that the pictures.  Because dust storms routinely lifted up pounds of top soil, those many pounds of topsoil had to come to rest somewhere else.  Farms in the path of the storms would be buried under layers of dirt.  Accounts tell of machinery, cars, and even houses that became completely covered from dirt and dust.  The effects were not just on property, but on health as well.  Because of the airborne dust and dirt particles, many people inhaled these hazards into their lungs.  Also, consider that the Dust Bowl was not a one time event.  People impacted by the Dust Bowl spent years upon years with dusters springing up with little warning, and dust infesting everything they owned and ate.  After so many years of breathing in dust, many people developed dust pneumonia, which was caused from dust gathering in the lungs.  This disease proved to be fatal for many people, especially those who already had health issues, the young, and the elderly.  Although the Black Blizzard of South Dakota was a memorable dust storm, it was far from the only one.  Looming clouds of black dust were an all too terrifying reality for nearly a decade for the Great Plains.

Sources:

http://geol105naturalhazards.voices.wooster.edu/eating-sleeping-breathing-dust-health-hazards-of-the-dust-bowl/

http://kxrb.com/south-dakotas-black-blizzard/

http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/geophysics/science-1934-drought-driest-most-widespread-past-millennium-02213.html

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/massive-dust-storm-sweeps-south-dakota

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