The "Dirty Thirties" Repeated: Decision Support Services Provided During a Modern Dust Bowl

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:30 AM
121BC (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Kristin Scotten, NOAA/NWS, Amarillo, TX; and N. Fenner and T. T. Lindley

The impacts of devastating drought and monstrous dust storms across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles during the 1930s Dust Bowl are infamous. Even though prolonged periods of dry weather are common in the Panhandles, the epic drought conditions of the 1930s were considered by many to be a once in a lifetime disaster. With the development of La Niña and subsequent exceptional drought conditions on the southern plains in late 2010 and continuing through 2012, the region was plagued with the onset of destructive wildfires, record breaking heat, and dramatic dust storms of historic proportions.

During the period of October 2010 through April 2014, numerous observation sites across west Texas including Amarillo, Dalhart, Wichita Falls, and Lubbock recorded the driest 43-month period on record. The magnitude and severity of public impacts from this modern Dust Bowl provided opportunities for meteorologists at the NOAA/National Weather Service Office in Amarillo, Texas to provide unique decision support services to a wide range of agricultural and hydrological interests. This study will document best practices and discuss services provided during this drought, an economic disaster for the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles reminiscent of the “Dirty Thirties”.