A dust storm occurs mainly in dry desert or semi-arid regions primarily in low- and midlatitudes. The hot moistureless air, filled with dust, is raised to great heights by turbulent winds causing the loose soil to be picked up and carried many miles away. The likelihood of this taking place increases as droughts linger in an area for long periods of time. A dust storm is often referred to as a sandstorm, especially in North Africa. Dust storms can be very unpleasant for a person's eyes, nostrils, or throat and might even cause temporary breathing problems. Some dust storms, driven by high winds and laden with gritlike materials, can cause physical damage to vehicles and buildings.
One dust storm that swept across Algeria in 1902 resulted in considerable particles of sand being carried about 1,100 miles to the British Isles. There is also evidence that specks of materials, wind-driven over the Sahara Desert by a dust storm, had been deposited beyond the Atlantic Ocean on the surface of numerous islands in the Caribbean Sea.
In the United States during the period 1935-1941, throughout much of the Great Plains region, a national calamity called the "Dust Bowl" took place. Farmers harvested good wheat crops during wet years. However, after a long-lasting drought, accompanied by stronger than normal winds, the topsoil began to blow away. Quantities of dusty soil landed as far away as the Atlantic Coast. During the Dust Bowl years of dust storm after dust storm, people living in the region were affected in a number of ways. Victims of the storms, sometimes called black blizzards, often found it impossible to see farther than a few feet in front of them. People resorted to wearing masks to protect their throats and lungs. The high winds eroded the loose soil, making any kind of planting useless. For years the prairie grazing lands were diminished in scope and visi-