May 23, 2011
The wind in West Texas is famously powerful and incessant. But this year, more big
blows than anyone can remember have roared through, stripping away precious topsoil
and carrying off another season of hope for farmers and ranchers.
Everywhere, it seems, the land is on the move: sand building up in corners of the just-swept front porch and coating clean laundry on the line, dust up your nose and in crevices of farm machinery. Drive along unpaved county roads and the farmers' plight becomes clear: Wind rakes the surface, scouring sand into adjacent fields, sweeping into farmers' deeply tilled furrows.
" 'Global weirding' is the best way to describe what we are seeing," said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University. "There is a lot going on these days that's not what we are used to seeing. What's happening is our rainfall patterns are shifting. In some places it means more heavy rainfall, in some places it means more drought, in some places it means both."