A drought (pronounced drowt) can occur whenever there is a lack of rain or precipitation for an extended period. Lack of precipitation results in less water to drink or for other activities, inability to grow crops for food and cracking in the earth.
Some populous areas may depend upon water from a river coming from upstream. If that source dries up or has not received enough precipitation, then water coming downstream will be much less. People can make a big difference in the preservation of water. Using less water all the time may preserve it in case drought conditions appear.
Experts cannot predict when a drought will occur. Causes include high pressure in the atmosphere and global weather conditions. In the United States, the southwestern states, including Texas and Oklahoma, seem to experience more droughts than other parts of the country.
In the 1930's, the worst drought in the history of our country occurred. It was composed of a succession of droughts. The area had not recovered from one when another began. In 1935, this southwestern area was called the Dust Bowl. Because of the extreme droughts, huge dust storms occurred throughout the area. Dust blew into people's houses. They could not go outside without coverings over their faces. Livestock died.
The Dust Bowl came to apply to the whole southwestern area of the United States. However, the hardest hit areas were western Kansas, southeastern Colorado, the northern part of the Oklahoma panhandle and northeastern New Mexico.
The drought lasted for about the entire decade of the 1930's. Because loss of crops due to lack of water, high winds prevailed, and high temperatures scorched the land. Insects invaded the area and ate whatever crops might be left. Farmers who had no crops to harvest lost their livelihood and went bankrupt. Banks foreclosed on the farms. That means that the banks took the properties back because the farmers could not pay their mortgages. Unemployment became severe. Physical and emotional hardships ensued also. Wildlife and plant life was also affected.
April 14, 1935, was known as Black Sunday. A mountain of blackness came over the High Plains covering the entire area with what seemed to be the blackest night. At that time a song was written using the phrase 'Dust Bowl' for the first time.
Water is the most basic need for life. Humans, animals, and plants must have water to live. Water is needed for swimming, cooking and washing dishes. It is used to create the electricity people need. Lack of water creates conditions which lead to wildfires. Sometimes governmental units may put limits on the amount of water citizens may use when a water shortage seems to be on the horizon.
Droughts can cause the price of food to rise. Less product can be grown, so the cost of the food which is left will be higher. The farmer wants to make as much money as he did before, so he has to raise the price on the few products he does sell. It is called the law of supply and demand.
People who study climate are called climatologists. They study temperature and precipitation. They compare graphs and past records to determine if a drought seems to be starting and maybe how long it will last.
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