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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Blowing Dust and Sand Events Across Arid and Semi-Arid Regions of the United States from 1971 to 1992 Based on Storm Data

item Peterson, Richard - TEXAS TECH UNIVERISTY
item Zobeck, Teddy

Submitted to: Fifth International Conference of Desert Development
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 12, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Sand storms or dust storms can have a significant impact in western and central U.S. The occurrence of these storms has been identified in a NOAA publication called Storm Data. Using information gathered from local news sources, Storm Data lists the place, date, and characteristics of extreme weather events. Data such as deaths and injuries attributed to the event, and estimated property damages are also included. We analyzed sand and dust storm data presented in Storm Data from 1971 to 1992 to determine damage by state in the Western and Plains States. We found that the month-to-month variation from individual states varies greatly. Some states have more storms in summer while others have more storms during the spring season. We found that in the late 1980's and early 1990's the Western states seemed to have an increase in storm numbers while the Plains states had fewer storms. Much of the difference may be attributed to the reduction of storms due to increased farmer enrollment in the USDA Conservation Research Program. This program pays farmers to place highly erodible land into permanent grass cover for the life of the contract.

Technical Abstract: In order to investigate the interdecadal patterns of blowing dust/sand activity, twenty-two years (1971-1992) of blowing dust and sand reports across the western regions of the United States are summarized. The data are extracted from NOAA's Storm Data which is compiled monthly by the National Weather Service. The information is a portion of data containing almost 500 events extracted for the entire U.S. The analysis shows that year-to-year variability is large, but in general there has been a shift in reports of blowing dust from the High Plains to the areas further west across the period of record. Tabulations are included showing the nature and extent of associated casualties. The seasonal pattern of the occurrences region-by-region is depicted.

Last Modified: 4/18/2015
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