The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

 

Welcome to the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. For assistance in exploring this site, please click here.

If you have feedback regarding this entry please fill out our feedback form.

Dust Storms

Dust storm.
Courtney Milne

Dust storms are atmospheric disturbances with moderate to strong winds, blowing soil particles, and visibility reduced to one kilometre or less at eye level. Dust storms are serious climatic hazards for Saskatchewan, resulting in environmental, health and economic costs. These include soil erosion, vegetation damage, respiratory problems, and fatalities. The semi-arid to sub-humid climate, topography, vegetation, soil conditions and Land Use in agricultural Saskatchewan provide an ideal setting for dust storms. Dust storms begin after a period of dry weather, when the wind speed is greater than the threshold value needed to lift and transport vulnerable soil particles, or when moving particles bombard an area. Land management practices such as cultivation and over-grazing increase dust storm risk because they loosen soil particles and reduce the protective vegetation cover.

Spring, especially April, is the time of peak dust storm occurrence. A weak secondary peak may occur during August. This spring maximum likely results from the combination of peak wind speed and lack of vegetative cover. Canada’s dust storm bowl is located in south-central Saskatchewan. This area has the second highest annual dust storm frequency in North America. An improved understanding of the nature of the dust storm hazard is crucial to improving the sustainability of the prairie ecosystem.

E.E. Wheaton

Print Entry

Further Reading

Wheaton, E. and A Chakravarti. 1990. “Dust Storms in the Canadian Prairies,” International Journal of Climatology 10: 829–37; World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 1983. Meteorological Aspects of Certain Processes Affecting Soil Degradation– Especially Erosion, Technical Note No. 178. Geneva: Secretariat of the WMO.
This web site was produced with financial assistance
provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
Ce site Web a été conçu grâce à l'aide financière de
Diversification de l'économie de l'Ouest Canada et le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan.