Stenotrophomonas then commented, saying, "Reminds me of the appropriately named Perryton in 1935."
When I saw photos and video of the Phoenix Dust Storm it reminded me of photos I'd seen of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
I did not know, til Stenotrophomonas pointed me to Perryton, that Texas had been hit bad by the notorious Dust Storms of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
I recollect watching a documentary on the History Channel about the Dust Bowl with a lot of focus on what is known as Black Sunday. The photo above is of the Dust Storm of Black Sunday hitting Perryton.
Perryton is in the Texas Panhandle, northeast of Amarillo about 8 miles south of the border with Oklahoma. By March 24 of 1935 Southeastern Colorado and Western Kansas had suffered 12 days in a row of dust storms. Then at the end of the month the biggest dust storm yet blew across the plains, taking with it half the Kansas wheat crop, a quarter of the Oklahoma wheat and all the wheat in Nebraska, over 5 million acres ruined. There was a short period of calm, and then 2 weeks later, on April 12, Black Sunday struck with the biggest Dust Storm to strike the Dust Bowl.
News articles of the era reporting Black Sunday are interesting....
From the Liberal News, Liberal, Kansas, April 15, 1935
Southwest was Plunged into Inky Blackness Yesterday with Only Few Minutes Warning
Some People Thought the End of the World was at Hand when Every Trace of Daylight was Obliterated at 4:00 p.m.
A people who during the past two weeks thought they had experienced the worst that could come in the form of dirt storms, looked on in awe and many of them in terror yesterday afternoon when...a great black bank rolled in out of the northeast and in a twinkling when it struck Liberal plunged everything into inky blackness, worse than that on any midnight, when there is at least some starlight and outlines of objects can be seen.
When the storm struck it was impossible to see one's hand before his face even two inches away. And it was several minutes before any trace of daylight whatsoever returned.
The day up to that time had been one of the few pleasant ones of the past several weeks. There had been no clouds in the sky. The temperature was unusually high and the day was one inviting people into the out of doors after day after day of dust.
Consequently many were caught out in the storm which came so suddenly that few realized it was even on the way until it was right upon them....
From the Ochiltree County Herald, Perryton, Texas, April 18, 1935
Black Blizzard Breaks All Records
Visibility Goes to Zero; Many Are Caught On Highways and on Picnic Parties
Was Worst in History
Worst Duster in History Followed Ideal Spring Day; Hit Here About Five o'clock
The worst dust storm in the memory of the oldest inhabitants of this section of the country hit Perryton at five o'clock Sunday afternoon, catching hundreds of people away from their homes, at the theatre, on the highways, or on picnic parties. The storm came up suddenly, following a perfect spring day.
In just a few minutes after the first bank appeared in the north, the fury of the black blizzard was upon us, turning the bright sunshine of a perfect day into the murky inkiness of the blackest night. Many hurried to storm cellars, remembering the cyclone of July, two years ago, which followed a similar duster.
Without question, this storm put the finishing touch of destruction to what faint hopes this area had for a wheat crop. Business houses and homes were literally filled with the fine dirt and silt driven in by this fifty mile an hour gale.
The storm started in the Dakotas and carried through with diminishing fury into Old Mexico. Borger reported the storm struck there at 6:15 p.m.; Amarillo at 7:20 p.m.; Boise City, Oklahoma, at 5:35 p.m.; and Dalhart at 5:15 p.m.
From the Amarillo Daily News, April 15, 1935
‘WORST’ DUSTER WHIPS ACROSS PANHANDLE
FARMERS PRAY FOR RAIN BUT WIND ANSWERS
NORTHER STRIKES SUNDAY TO BLOT OUT SUN, TURN DAY INTO NIGHT
SETS RECORD PACE
KANSAS GOVERNOR SAYS SOIL UNDAMAGED; STORM HITS SOUTH TEXAS
North winds whipped dust of the drought area to a new fury Sunday and old timers said the storm was the worst they'd seen. Farmers prayed through dust filmed lips for rain. A black duster—sun blotting cloud banks—raced over Southwest Kansas, the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, and foggy haze spread about other parts of the southwest. Easter services at Lindsborg, Kansas, opening with a chorus singing "The Messiah" were carried on in dust-laden air.
Makes Record Trip
The black duster made the 105 miles from Boise City, Okla., to Amarillo, Texas, in 1 hour 45 minutes. Hundreds of Sunday motorists lured to the highways by 90 degrees temperatures and crystal clear skies were caught by the storm. Farmers and agricultural officials of the dust area, Southwest Kansas, Southeast Colorado, Northeastern New Mexico and the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, reported the soil was not damaged and that crops could still be made this season if it would rain. Governor Alf M. Landon of Kansas pointed out top soil ranges from 10 to 30 feet deep at many points in the area.
STORM TURNS CITY INTO TOTAL DARKNESS
Blotting out every speck of light, the worst duststorm in the history of the Panhandle covered the entire region early last night. The billowing black cloud struck Amarillo at 7:20 o'clock and visibility was zero for 12 minutes.
Gradually it cleared and Weatherman H. T. Collman said the storm would be over by morning. The black, ominous cloud rolled over the Panhandle from the north, an awe-inspiring spectacle.
Into Central Texas
The storm continued southward and had moved into Wichita Falls by 9:45 o'clock, the Associated Press reported. A large area west and southwest of Temple was reported feeling effects of the duster, which moved onward into South Texas.
Warning of the terrible storm reached Amarillo about 45 minutes before it struck. It came from a woman in Stinnett. The woman called Sheriff Bill Adams. He did not learn her name. "I feel that you people of Amarillo should know of the terrible duststorm which has struck here and probably will hit Amarillo," the woman said, "I am sitting in my room and I cannot see the telephone."
8,000 Feet High
A gentle, north breeze preceded 8,000-feet-high clouds of dust. As the midnight fog arrived, the streets were practically deserted. However, hundreds of people stood before their homes to watch the magnificent sight.
Darkness settled swiftly after the city had been enveloped in the stinking, stinging dust, carried by a 50-mile-an-hour wind. Despite closed windows and doors, the silt crept into buildings to deposit a dingy, gray film. Within two hours the dust was a quarter of an inch in thickness in homes and stores.
Reports from the north at 10:30 o'clock last night by the Santa Fe dispatcher said that the moon could be seen at Woodward, Okla., showing that the storm was clearing rapidly.
The weather forecast for today was partly cloudy and colder. The storm struck just before early twilight. All traffic was blocked and taxi companies reported that it was difficult to make calls for nearly 45 minutes. Street signal lights were invisible a few paces away. Lights in 10 and 12 story buildings could not be seen.
John L. McCarty, editor of the Dalhart Texan, of Dalhart, the center of the drought-stricken area of the Panhandle, called a few minutes before the storm arrived in Amarillo. The storm struck Dalhart about 85 minutes before it hit Amarillo and the city remained in total darkness for more than that length of time, he said.
Couldn't See Light
"I went outside the house during the storm and could not see a lighted window of the house three feet away." Mr. McCarty said. Borger, Perryton and other cities on the North Plains reported similar conditions, proving that the storm was becoming less vicious the farther south it moved.
Damage to the wheat crop, already half ruined by drought and wind, could not be learned last night, but several grainmen believed that the dust would cover even more of the crops.
The storm started yesterday when a high pressure area moved out of the Dakotas toward Wyoming, according to Mr. Collman. Most of the dust was from western Kansas and Oklahoma, he said.
A linotype operator, forced to stick to his post in a dusty shop appeared with a narrow strip of shoe shining cloth, lined with sheepskin, tied close to his nostrils. When dampened, he said, it made breathing normal.
A Santa Fe freight train, scheduled to depart from the South Plains about 8 o'clock, was held up nearly an hour waiting for the dust to subside. With improved visibility by 11 o'clock it was reported making good time, aided by a strong "tailwind."