Black Sunday–April 14, 1935.

Dust, Drought, and Depression #17.

Dust storm. Note heavy metal signs blown out by wind. Amarillo, Texas

Dust storm. Note heavy metal signs blown out by wind. Amarillo, Texas; April 1935; photo by Arthur Rothstein; Library of Congress image.


Black Sunday refers to a particularly severe dust storm that took place on April 14, 1935, as part of the Dust Bowl. It was one of the worst dust storms in American history and it caused immense economic and agricultural damage. It is estimated to have displaced 300 million tons of topsoil from the Prairie area in the US.

On the afternoon of April 14 the residents of the plains States were forced to take cover as a dust storm, or “black blizzard”, blew through the region. The storm hit the eastern Oklahoma panhandle and northwestern Oklahoma first, and moved south for the remainder of the day.It hit Beaver around 4 p.m., Boise City around 5:15 p.m., and Amarillo at 7:20 p.m.The conditions were the most severe in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, but the storm’s effects were felt in other surrounding areas.

The storm was harsh due to the high winds that hit the area that day. Along with the drought, erosion, and the unanchored soil, the winds caused the dust to fly freely and at high speeds.


“The impact is like a shovelful of fine sand flung against the face,” Avis D. Carlson wrote in a New Republic article. “People caught in their own yards grope for the doorstep. Cars come to a standstill, for no light in the world can penetrate that swirling murk…. The nightmare is deepest during the storms. But on the occasional bright day and the usual gray day we cannot shake from it. We live with the dust, eat it, sleep with it, watch it strip us of possessions and the hope of possessions. It is becoming Real. The poetic uplift of spring fades into a phantom of the storied past. The nightmare is becoming life.”



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