Other than the loss of crops themselves, one of the first signs of calamity were the choking clouds of dust. Storms were not an unknown phenomenon on the Plains. In 1904 and 1923 dust storms of significant magnitude were recorded. What made the 30's unique was that the dust continually thickened and the storms came more often. In 1933, there were 70 dust storms. The following year, residents hoped that things were improving, as there were only 22. However, in 1935, there were 53; 73 in the next year; and 134 in the first nine months of 1937.
In a study published on July 17 in the journal Scientific Reports , researchers at Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory used satellite data from 2003-2015 to resolve some of the lingering uncertainty on prior dust activity models. Their research projects that “climate change will increase dust activity in the southern Great Plains from spring to fall in the late half of the twenty-first century – largely due to reduced precipitation, enhanced land surface bareness, and increased surface wind speed.”