• April 14, 1935, is known “Black Sunday” because it was the date of the largest dust storm in American history. Winds from this “black blizzard” were clocked at 96.5 kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour), and swept through most of the Great Plains region. The Great Plains includes southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and northeastern New Mexico.
    The Black Sunday cloud was the worst storm of the Dust Bowl (1930-1939). Poor land management made tons of valuable topsoil vulnerable to the erosion brought by years of drought. Some experts estimate 300,000 tons of topsoil were swept up into the air during the Black Sunday dust storm alone.
    Following Black Sunday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration began to regulate farming methods. These included crop rotation, grass-seeding, and plowing. These agricultural methods were part of the New Deal program, and they helped reduce dust storms by 65 percent. The Dust Bowl brought attention to the importance of land management, preservation of natural resources, and the impacts that human decisions have on the Earth.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    cloud Noun

    visible mass of tiny water droplets or ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere.

    Encyclopedic Entry: cloud
    crop rotation Noun

    the system of changing the type of crop in a field over time, mainly to preserve the productivity of the soil.

    drought Noun

    period of greatly reduced precipitation.

    Encyclopedic Entry: drought
    Dust Bowl Noun

    (1930-1940) term for the Great Plains of the U.S. and Canada when severe dust storms forced thousands of people off their farms.

    dust storm Noun

    weather pattern of wind blowing dust over large regions of land.

    erosion Noun

    act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.

    Encyclopedic Entry: erosion
    farming Noun

    the art, science, and business of cultivating the land for growing crops.

    Great Plains Noun

    grassland region of North America, between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River.

    impact Noun

    meaning or effect.

    land management Noun

    process of balancing the interests of development, resources, and sustainability for a region.

    natural resource Noun

    a material that humans take from the natural environment to survive, to satisfy their needs, or to trade with others.

    New Deal Noun

    (1933-1938) series of U.S. government programs intended to provide economic "relief, recovery, and reform" to Americans during the Great Depression.

    preservation Noun

    protection from use.

    reduce Verb

    to lower or lessen.

    regulate Verb

    to determine and administer a set of rules for an activity.

    storm Noun

    severe weather indicating a disturbed state of the atmosphere resulting from uplifted air.

    topsoil Noun

    the most valuable, upper layer of soil, where most nutrients are found.

    valuable Adjective

    worth a considerable amount of money or esteem.

    vulnerable Adjective

    capable of being hurt.

    wind Noun

    movement of air (from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone) caused by the uneven heating of the Earth by the sun.