History Channel show – Black Blizzard

Update: For whatever reason this article gets a lot of hits.  Here is a show on the Dust Bowl from the PBS program American Experience.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/dustbowl/


The History Channel just aired a 2-hour program about the Dust Bowl in the 1930s in the central United States called Black Blizzard.  What struck me most during the program was the description of a series of massive storms that hit on April 14th, 1935 known as “Black Sunday”.  The History Channel had computer recreations of what this looked like.  Here is an image from the show (and the History Channel website) showing one of the storms approaching.  Inside the car are a reporter and photographer who, after stopping and taking pictures of the approaching storm, are trying to outrun the storm.

During the show they also showed several real photographs of the storms of Black Sunday and doing a quick search on Wikipedia produced one spectacular photograph of a storm as it approached Spearman, Texas:

Here is another photograph of a storm as it approaches Stratford, Texas.  This photo is perhaps even better than the one above as the buildings are closer to the camera and give a better scale to the size of the storm:

According to DirecTV’s listing there is another showing of this program on 10/25 at 2:00PM Central Time.  It is definitely worth watching.

13 thoughts on “History Channel show – Black Blizzard

  1. I just finished a book called, The Worst Hard Time, that dealt with this same place and time period. I believe that the History Channel used it as source material. A very good book that discribed the horrors of the Dust Bowl and the history leading up to it.

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  2. my dad loves your show an i am doing a news paper on the dust bowl and saw your pictures and thought they were amazing!!! great job!!

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  3. Saw Black Blizzard on the History Channel, which was incredible. I knew about the importance of topsoil and how long it takes to form just a shallow depth of it. I didn’t realize the prairie’s topsoil blew to New York and the rest of the East Coast. As the show said, only then did Roosevelt send the photographers like Dorothea Lange out to document the plight of the farmers and people moving west.

    The September issue of National Geographic has a big article on topsoil also Our Good Earth. It is a little appreciated topic.

    Thanks.

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  4. Did the A- bomb testing’s cause these clouds? Inquiring minds want to know? Strontium 90 was a fallout product from a-bomb testing from 1931,1932
    research at “Forensic Science International” volume 99 issue 1 pg 47.

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  5. Ummm…there was no atomic bomb testing in 1931 or 1932. The first controlled nuclear reaction happened in Chicago in 1942. The first atomic explosion happened in 1945 in New Mexico.

    In fact the paper you cite says that Strontium-90 was *not* found in the bone samples from 1931/32.

    It was a dust storm pure and simple.

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  6. I LOVED the show, but missed the first 40 minutes or so. I saw it this last week, I think 4/24/10 Saturday. When will you be rebroadcasting it? Or can I buy the CD somewhere? We have lived in Oklahoma for 5 years, and I have to say the wind here is worse than it was in my hometown of Chicago. I say “every day is a bad hair day in Oklahoma”.

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    1. I don’t actually work at the History Channel…I just wrote a blog post about the show after I saw the original airing 😉 My hometown *is* Chicago (and still is). It gets pretty windy but I think the term Windy City actually referred to politics in Chicago and not the actual wind 😉

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  7. I grew up 20 mi west of Altus, Oklahoma. I was 10 yrs old in 1933 and I remember a ‘mother’ of all dust storms causing my family to remain indoors for nearly two days. Was that the April 14, 1935 biggie that hit the Cimmaron area, or were we too far south to be that severly impacted by it?

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  8. Hi Norma…thanks for writing. From what I can tell there were a bunch of “black blizzards” that day. Spearman (in one of the pictures above) is about 200 miles west/northwest of Altus but the information I could find noted that there were about 20 “black blizzards” that day so I suspect what you experienced as a 10-yr old would have been one of them. Given the large area that was the “dust bowl” and the fact that you were east of Spearman, etc. it certainly is possible. That dust went all the way to the east coast eventually!

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  9. Any show on the History Channel are very Interesting. I sit in a Nursing home 25 hours a day.. well rather it feels like 25 hours anyhow.. either way the History Channel always gets my interest when it comes to things like this and other disasters and discoveries in the U.S.

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