In July 1934, in the United States of America, the most devastating drought on record forced millions of desperate people to escape to safety in neighboring States. Sixty percent of the country experienced extreme damage. Present generations still read about this historical event known as the ‘ Dust Bowl Years ‘ while at school.
Researchers believe it was caused by a high-pressure ridge over the West Coast that misdirected the water-heavy storms of 1934 resulting in the unexpected drought. This ridge reappeared with subsequent disastrous damage in 1976 and 2013 in the California area. It is now an established fact that when a persistent high pressure hovers over an area causing a decline in cloud formation leading to a definite and noticable lowering of relative humidity and less precipitation the probable result will be a drought differing only in degree of severity.
Besides the negative geological impact of such a weather condition the economic and societal impacts have been serious. They have taken their toll financially, emotionally and mentally. A combined cost of over $210 billion was the amount spent by the United States alone between the years 1980 and 2014 because of drought and a staggering number of people lost their lives; thousands according to NOAA.
Further to reports from NOAA, as of July 2018, a figure of 38 percent of the contiguous U.S. was classified as in moderate to extreme drought.
What have the experts said about the future? They have reiterated that increased frequency of drought is to be expected, not just for the Americas but for the entire globe and that it is necessary to be prepared for the worse scenarios. The Earth is experiencing more and more warmth causing excessive periods of evaporation. Major shifts in weather patterns will continue and storm laden clouds carrying the needed rains will move further and further north. Populations used to snow should expect rain instead and that means more and more flooding in the dry areas where slow absorption is what prevents drought.
There are at present 150 definitions of drought categorized into four basic groups. If interested in charts and graphs check info released by The Palmer Drought Severity Index ( PDSI ) devised in 1965 ; The U.S. Drought Monitor which replaced the aforementioned PDSI in 1999 ; The National Climatic Data Center ; The National Drought Summary ; The Climate Prediction Center ; The Drought Portal and last of all the NOAA.