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Dealing With Drought

Imagine being told you can't have a bath? For some of us this might be kinda cool, but after a few weeks the smell might change your mind. When there hasn't been rain for a long time and water has to be used sparingly you might need to go without a bath. But that's the only good thing about a drought.

A drought is a long period of dry weather that causes some serious problems like crop damage, a shortage of water, fire and dust. I'm not talking a week or two without rain. More like a few months to years. A drought isn't determined by the number of days that go by. It depends on the amount of moisture before and after the dry period and the length and size of the area without water.

If it doesn't rain for a while, farmers and cities can be in some serious trouble. It doesn't take long. A few weeks without rain will make people panic and crops shrivel. Nobody can wash their cars, water their lawn or take long showers. People and animals start dying of thirst and large areas are destroyed by dust storms or fire.

During the 1930s the Dust Bowl drought was a natural disaster that seriously affected the Great Plains of the United States. It covered an alarming area - about 50 million acres. It came in three waves: 1934, 1936 and 1939-1940 but some regions of the Plains were stuck with the Dust Bowl for almost eight years. The Dust Bowl was caused by years of dry land and very dry soil that was easily picked up by wind. Great clouds of dust and sand, called black blizzards, became so thick they blocked out the sun for days.

Is there a chance another Dust Bowl could happen? Scientists can't predict droughts but records can tell us how often droughts, like the Dust Bowl, occurred in the past. If devastating droughts happened often in the past then there is a good chance we should expect them down the road.

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