Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Then and Now...

Here's the then...

Mid-1930's, obviously. Beaver County, Oklahoma.

And here's the now. Cimarron County, Oklahoma, Jan.12, 2013*...

Edit: It's 2014 now, moron, not 2013...

Interesting, no? I decided to play around with this image in PS a little to see if I could make it as Apocalyptic as the old B&W images from the 30s...

And, well, I couldn't. Because like the North Koreans, I suck at Photoshop. I'm sure someone with better PS skills could make it look more vintage, and some of the other photographs below would make better candidates, but I was struck by the similarity in composition between the first two. I think it makes the point quite nicely: Round and round and round we go. Everything old is new again. The La Junta, CO to Boise City, OK area, BTW, was the very area that historian Donald Worster pegged as the geographical and socio-cultural center of the Dust Bowl. To this day it remains a haunted, lonely, mostly unpeopled, abused, horribly scarred, but still harshly gorgeous region. And quite possibly doomed in this quickly approaching and fast darkling brave new world of the Anthropocene...

Here's an account of how it happened (more good drought and meteorological info, plus pics, in the link) from the Oklahoma Mesonet ticker news feed. Short story, though? Extreme drought+Virtually no native prairie left to hold the soil(because it's all been ripped up, plowed and planted)+High winds=One hell of an Environmental Throwback Thursday, come a few days early...

From the Oklahoma Mesonet site...
Tales of woe from drought-plagued western Oklahoma, but where to start? Might as
go with the more scenic story. As the cold front swept our 70s out from under 
our feet on Sunday, the northerly winds that came with it swept something else
along with it our in the High Plains ... a good old fashioned 1930s style dust
storm. The folks at the Cimarron County Conservation District were kind enough
to send us some pics of the towering wall of dirt as it bore down on Cimarron 
County from SE Colorado. Check out the pictures here and tell me those don't 
belong in a Ken Burns documentary!
From what I can tell searching around various websites, the picture from near
La Junta, Colorado, (#6) appears to show the genesis of the event. The Cimarron
County folks tell me that the storm swept into the Boise City area around 4
p.m. That fits pretty well from what we can see from the meteogram at Boise City
on the 12th. Temperatures drop from the 60s into the 50s in about an hour as
winds switch from the west-southwest to northerly and gust to over 50 mph ... 
right around 4 p.m.


  1. You headen out Californy way?

    This time California is in the drought just as deep. Maybe they'll all move back to your neck of the woods.
    Scary stuff my friend, scary stuff.

  2. That's pretty nuts. And CA heading into a potentially historic drought (although I think it's a little early to start calling it that, Gov. Brown)... The west is taking a beating, and water use is only increasing with population. Just got back from Vegas, golf courses in the desert... shit ain't right.

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  4. I was down in SE Colorado last Friday -- visiting the area between La Junta and the Purgatory River felt like disaster tourism. I need to blog about that, but it's pretty depressing.