During a period of drought in the 1930s, the Great Plains began to be known as the Dust Bowl. The plains had been overgrazed and overfarmed, leading to erosion of the topsoil in the previous decades. Due to this erosion and a drought that started in 1931, when wind started blowing, the soil was easily picked up and blown through the air.
This resulted in dust storms and clouds called black blizzards, which removed most of the topsoil from the region. Without top soil, grass and plants were unable to grow, so cattle was unable to survive. The storms could short out engines from the static electricity produced, and the thickness of the storms made it difficult for people to breathe. Locusts became a problem, and people developed illnesses from the wild animals and inhalation of the dust. Roughly 60 percent of the population were forced to leave the Great Plains during this time.
People finally started to regain control over the Dust Bowl in 1935 when New Deal agencies created programs to replant the area to give the soil something to hold on to. These programs also captured rainwater and encouraged fallow farmland. The area was much healthier by 1941 but suffered similar issues throughout World War II.