Are “Dust Bowl” Conditions Returning To California?

During the 1930s, “dust bowl” conditions in the Midwestern and Southern states, especially Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, forced the migration of millions of people into California seeking work. The famous novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck was about this. The ensuing post-WWII prosperity and farming industry made California into one of the main providers of grocery store produce in the country.

However, this may be changing as very dry conditions continue to wrack California, and mixed with fires and other disasters, are creating a sort of “new dust bowl” situation.

With hardly a drop of rain in the entire month of February, 59 percent of California is now experiencing abnormally dry conditions according to the Federal Drought Monitor.

“You know, it’s a dry year,” said Matt Keller of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Keller said above ground reservoir levels are down to 59 percent of average for this time of year.

“We’ve got another month or two to go in the rainy season. Once that’s done, we’ll evaluate. But we’re in good shape as far as our water supply goes right now,” Keller said.

The Water District says residents are still cutting back water use by 21 percent compared to 2013 levels. (source)

When one considers the mass migration from California to states such as Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and Texas, one must wonder if the same historical migratory process which happened a century ago is repeating, just this time in the opposite direction.

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