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Analysis of the Dust Bowl - 03.28.07

Doc Weather looks at the patterns that led to the Dust Bowl in the United States.

A technical analysis of drought cycles in the Dust Bowl -1930/36

This article is a technical analysis of the potential for a geometrically based phenomenology of motion in arc events among the planets seen in relationship to the geometry of an eclipse grid to identify large scale drought patterns in advance. The geometries of the eclipse grid coupled with accurate phenomenology of motion in arc events can produce very adaptable and fluid modeling techniques. These techniques are used in this article to analyze the onset of the devastating drought patterns that led to the Dust Bowl in the United States.

Fig.1  blank chart

Fig.1 blank chart


Some technical terms used in this article are not normally found on sites relating to climate studies. Because terms specific to the geometric/ astronomical technique that are used to make long range forecasts may need some explanation, the following definitions are offered. The basic approach for this modeling technique is to use eclipse points to generate a geometric grid that allows for accurate tracking of standing wave potentials in the atmosphere. This is the basis for this modeling approach. The grid that is projected from an eclipse point is composed of logarithmically spaced areas where troughs or ridges have proven to be most likely to form during a given time period. These areas are known as jet curves in this model because they are the area in the chart where the Rossby waves (blue to red arrow) of the polar jet stream are most likely to shift from zonal flow to meridional flow scenarios. During the six month period between eclipses, the center of the grid structure of jet curves contains an area of maximum potential for climate anomalies. This area is designated as a disturbance diamond (yellow). The position of the disturbance diamond has shown in many studies over twenty years, to be useful in constructing flexible modeling procedures for long range climate events. However, the placement of the jet curves in a particular period often yields insights into climate change. This present article tracks the motion of the eclipse points and their jet curves across North America during the anomalous drought events of the decade of the 1930's. The interaction of the decadal motion of the jet curves and the unusual placement of three key planetary influences is the thesis of this article. The anomalous placement of the three planets in question provided the foundation in time for the three successive waves of drought patterns through the decade.

To help those unfamiliar with the geometric or astronomical terms in this article, links are included to explanatory articles on other parts of this site.

Drought patterns from 1930 to 1936

The presence of drought conditions in the United States is associated with profound human suffering. Drought researchers recognize that most prolonged drought conditions in the past were often due to improper agricultural practices. Typically, the soil water evaporates from the over-use of underground aquifers or improper tillage and the land dries up and retains heat causing cloud formation to fail. This is often how drought cycles self-perpetuate physically.

However, the Dust Bowl, the profoundly deep Midwest drought in the 1930's, was a classic meteorological drought, that is, it was primarily a result of unusual climate patterns. Even though farming practices aggravated the Dust Bowl years, the climatic patterns behind the great drought were devastating in their rhythmic relentlessness.

There were actually four distinct droughts in the Dust Bowl. The first in 1930/31 was a prelude. The 1934 summer drought deepened the pattern and the 1936 drought dealt the deathblow to agriculture in the High Plains. The final period of 1939/40 was a lesser event.

Since most of the precipitation in the High Plains falls in the late spring early summer in the form of thunderstorms, the charts will depict the eclipse positions that were in effect in April of the study year. In the first chart the planetary situation for spring 1930 is illustrated.

Fig.2  spring 1930

Fig.2 spring 1930

Spring 1930

The eclipses during that year occurred during April. The lunar eclipse point was at 157°E lon (western Pacific). The solar eclipse position was at 6°W lon (west coast of Africa) Across the hemisphere from the solar point is the solar reflex point. Across from the lunar point is the lunar reflex point. Between the two sets of points the eclipse grid is projected. In this chart only the four 72° jet curves from the points are depicted because they are the points that influence the continent in this pattern. In 1930, Uranus was at 32° W lon (eastern Atlantic) close to the two eastern points and the lunar node was in between them. Together the rhythms of these two influences had a strong affect on the two eastern points, i.e. the lunar reflex and the solar point. This means that influences from Uranus and the node would be found on each 72 degree jet curve from each point. In the spring of 1930 the rhythms of Uranus and the lunar node supported persistent high-pressure on the two eastern eclipse points and their related jet curves (blue lines) over the Great Basin. Experiments have shown that from such a configuration we could expect that a blocking ridge would form over the Great Basin along the two 72° jet curves from the eastern pair of eclipse points when strong high-pressure values occurred on the eclipse points.

In the chart it can be seen that the 72° jet curves from the eastern pair of points is crossed by a set of 72° jet curves from the two western points (solar reflex at 174E and lunar eclipse point at 158 E). Together the four 72° jet curves form a disturbance diamond over the Colorado Rockies, the High Plains with legs of the jet curves extending into parts of the upper Midwest. The western pair of points was under the influence of Saturn at a strong high-pressure value on the solar reflex point. At that time, Saturn was aspecting the lunar point to an intermittent value that results most often to weak manifestations. The jet curve for this is drawn with a gray line. The strong high-pressure aspects on the 72° jet curves from the eastern pair and the strong high-pressure value on the 72° jet curve from the solar reflex point put strong high-pressure values over the southern Rockies and the High Plains for most of the month of May 1930. This is the blue area on the chart. The blue area depicts a ridge of high pressure covering these jet curves. A ridge in this area would block the low- level monsoon storm jet from the Gulf of Mexico and prevent it from entering the Midwest or High Plains. This was the precise pattern in May of 1930. The planetary influences that gave rise to these patterns did not shift much during the months of May and June. There was a kind of counter point between Uranus and the node where the potential low-pressure influence of Uranus moving in arc in late May was offset by the node moving retrograde two days later re-establishing strong high-pressure values on the eastern points. The node stayed in this relationship for the whole month of April, and May and half of June. During that time it strongly influenced the eastern points to high-pressure.

The space within the eclipse diamond was the exact west-to-east border of the high-pressure ridge that formed in April 1930 (blue area). The blocking high that brought on the failure of the spring rains covered the area from northern Mexico to Alabama with a strong block reaching northward into the Dakotas. This is the pattern that was coincident with the beginning of the Dust Bowl. By July the node began shifting patterns between high pressure and low pressure every ten days. These shifts broke the stagnant ridge and developed more variable weather. However the two- month dryness had established the beginning of the creeping drought phenomenon in which drought conditions only develop over a period of several years rather than in one year alone. The next significant drought pattern was in April 1934.

Fig.3  spring 1934

Fig.3 spring 1934

Spring 1934

The pattern for April 1934 shows strong high-pressure values on the eclipse points that had migrated to the longitude of the Midwest. The rate of migration is approximately 15° to the west every six months. The chart shows the solar eclipse point (red) at 81° W lon (east coast of US) and the lunar reflex point (green) at 96° W lon . In place of the 72° jet curves depicted as operational in the last chart this chart shows the 22° jet curves from the points being in a position to influence high pressure over the continent. The 22° jet curves are usually active in the stimulation of tropical air mass movements. It can be seen that the jet curves cover an area from the Sonoran desert in Mexico to Oklahoma. High-pressure in these areas would most likely support the emergence of low-latitude blocking patterns over the southern High Plains. In both 1930 and 1934 the southwest was the area that first manifest the drought pattern. The dryness gradually spread east as the drought deepened from spring to summer. April 1934 was a time of relentless heat and high-pressure. During April a pattern of 24 days developed when either Saturn or the node produced high-pressure values on the 22° jet curve from the lunar reflex point. Saturn or the node produced high-pressure on the other 22° jet curve for a total of 16 days. This means that for the whole month there were only a few days for other than high-pressure values over the southwest. The blue area once again shows the extent of high-pressure during the spring.

This block extended from the Texas panhandle north to Missouri and Illinois and southeast to the Gulf coast near the mouth of the Mississippi. This area is the exact extent of the two jet curves. This pattern continued into July as the node created a strong high-pressure aspect to the 22° jet curve from the lunar reflex point. Saturn was also at a high-pressure aspect to this same point for the whole month. July 1934 was the hottest July on record for Missouri. The clockwise circulation around a ridge placed along the lunar reflex jet curve would draw hot air from the Mexican desert into the Midwest while sealing off any Gulf Coast monsoon. In these patterns the eclipse points have moved from a significant high pressure relationship to Uranus to a significant high pressure relationship to Saturn. The syncopation of the rhythmic influences between Uranus and the node in 1930 and Saturn and the node in 1934 supported anomalous high pressure in the eclipse grid over the southwest in both of these years.

Fig.4  spring 1936

Fig.4 spring 1936

Spring 1936

The next drought siege for the Midwest and High Plains took place in 1936. Figure 3 shows the eclipse placements for that spring. The solar point (red) was at 133° W lon and the lunar reflex point (green) was at 117° W lon (both off of the West Coast). Once again it was the low latitude 22° jet curves from the points that was the site of a low latitude tropical high-pressure ridge over the southern High Plains. It can be seen from the chart that the eclipse points have migrated to the west but the other side of the eclipse grid containing its own set of 22° jet curves from the points is now over the southern High Plains. When these points and tropical jet curves transit the United States the result is often that the tropical jet stream is enhanced. This often strengthens the semi permanent low latitude blocking highs in the longitude of the jet curves. Unfortunately for this particular period of six years, first Uranus then Saturn and then Jupiter were working in consort with the lunar node to create unusual syncopations of high-pressure rhythms on the eclipse points. This was just due to peculiarities in the orbital periods of these planets during this decade. Other time periods would have different influences, even the opposite climate patterns, from similar configurations. Using geometric analysis techniques requires that all cases are analyzed in a case by case manner. In the decade of the 30's the set of eclipse points moved away from Uranus only to run into Saturn and then past Saturn the eclipse points ran into Jupiter. The decadal scenario of eclipse point migration coupled with nodal interaction with strategically placed planets was played out as chronic high pressure on the jet curves passing across the American southwest and High Plains in the spring of each drought year. This rhythm was very unusual.

In the interplay between the node and Jupiter in April 1936, the lunar point fell under the influence of high-pressure values for 26 days out of 30. This meant that the jet curve over Texas supported tropical high-pressure for the whole month. After two years of searing summer temperatures in this area the whole climate regime shifted to blowing winds, dryness, and heat. This was the driest summer on record for Missouri as a ridge (blue area) established itself once again over the southern High Plains and crept eastward into the Midwest as the summer progressed. The drought continued through the spring and into the summer with Jupiter and the lunar node playing high-pressure tag team with the two eclipse points. In late July there were two eclipses that gradually phased out the Jupiter influence as the points moved west into the eastern Pacific and out of the tight dance between Jupiter and the node that characterized the spring and early summer. After the eclipses in July some ameliorating rains began to fall on the parched areas of the continent but the destruction and social displacement caused by the relentless dryness had taken their toll on the soul of a nation.

It is interesting to note that during the period from 1950 to 1956 this same section of the country also experienced a crippling drought. It may be more than coincidental that during those very years the eclipse points traversed exactly the same regions that were so instrumental in the formation of the Dust Bowl. In 2007 a similar pattern will return during the summer.