The Dust Bowl lasted about a decade, beginning in 1930 and lasting until 1940. The lack of grasses and waves of drought during those years resulted in the topsoil being blown away during strong winds, creating massive dust storms.
Due to farmers not understanding the ecology of the region, a greater demand for wheat, mechanization of farm equipment and severe drought, grasses that had held the arid soil in place were converted to growing grains. The Homestead Act of 1862 brought a large number of farmers into the Great Plains, which spreads across Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. While originally dominated by cattle farms, the demand for wheat converted many settlers towards crop farming. John Steinbeck's famous novel, "The Grapes of Wrath," describes families escaping the effects of the Dust Bowl.