As the hot weather sends devastating wildfires across southern Europe, a reminder that 74 years ago this week, America’s dust bowl heatwave reached its height, with temperatures soaring to 104°F (40°C) in Milwaukee and 109°F (44°C) in Chicago.
The prairies had a terrible time in the thirties as the longest drought of the century coupled with decades of over-intensive farming killed off the grasses that normally kept the top soil in place. And it literally blew away, producing great dark clouds which sometimes blackened the sky as far as Washington DC.
Altogether, America’s heatwave killed perhaps 15,000 people from 1934 to 1936. Record temperatures were seen in many states, and one observer said that the “wide Missouri” at Kansas City had been reduced to “a languid thread of water in a great bed of baked mud.”
For more, see A Disastrous History of the World.