LUBBOCK, Texas – It’s dusty, wild weather days like we saw on Sunday that make you wonder just how bad that West Texas dust storm really was compared to what we’ve experienced in the past.

Experts around town tell us the closest we’ve seen to Sunday’s dust storm was the haboob of 2011, and even then, that storm didn’t last near as long as what Sunday’s storm brought.

But how did Sunday compare to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s? 

Justin Weaver with National Weather Service Lubbock said that based on how long Sunday’s storm lasted and how little visibility there was, it could’ve been a very similar comparison to what we might’ve seen during the Dust Bowl. Luckily, Weaver said that the amount of dust and how often it blows in West Texas has gone down significantly in comparison to what people experienced in the 1930s.

“What made the Dust Bowl particularly bad in the South Plains of West Texas, up through Oklahoma, Kansas, eastern New Mexico, parts of Colorado, maybe even extending up into South Dakota is this combination of more land under plow, the lack of rain and the eradication of the native grasses,” said Sean Cunningham, a history professor at Texas Tech University. “All of that contributed to the blowing dust.

The Dust Bowl was a decade long of horrific dust storms during the severe drought of the 1930s across the region.

“You couldn’t see anything but dust rolling on in from the west as they developed,” said Jesse Jones who lived through the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. “They were pretty bad storms at that time.”

Poor farming techniques at the time caused the soil to erode and turn into a lot of dust.

“Being a farmer’s daughter, we wanted rain, we didn’t want dirt,” said Ida Roberts who also lived through the Dust Bowl. “We needed the rain, but we got by.” 

The heaviest dust storms would be called ‘black blizzards,’ where topsoil from the lone star state could make it all the way up east to Washington, D.C. Jones, who grew up in Perryton, remembered being sent home from school because those storms were so bad. 

“It would get so dark inside the classroom, that you couldn’t see what the teacher was doing at the board, so they had to dismiss school,” Jones said.

As for Roberts, she recalled her mother doing everything she could to keep her children safe from the choking dust that surrounded them. 

“My mom, bless her heart, she would take sheets, wet them, and hang them over all the doors and windows to keep the dirt out of her house because dust pneumonia was pretty common at that time, and a lot of folks died from it,” Roberts said.

Weaver said Lubbock has many dusty days, but nothing like what Sunday (Feb. 26) brought.

“A day like that, where we had the visibility at zero in the city for at least a while, several minutes, that’s pretty unusual, and probably very similar to what happened in the Dust Bowl days,” Weaver said.

He said a dust storm of that magnitude may resemble what Jones and Roberts saw growing up.

“It was not a real good time,” Roberts said.