Over the central section of North America there hung for weeks a blanket of clear hot dry air under high atmospheric pressure. Because air moves from high to low pressure areas, rainladen breezes from the two oceans were unable to penetrate beyond the rim of the U. S. The sun beat down through cloudless skies to blister the earth. Under normal circumstances low pressure areas known as "cyclonic storms" (not necessarily of "cyclonic" velocity and violence) swing periodically across the land from west to east, sucking in and mixing hot and cold winds, producing rain. This year such beneficent disturbances did not cease, but they apparently moved northward from their normal track to the Hudson's Bay area of Canada where plenty of rain has fallen. Why these cyclonic storms shifted north no man knows for sure. One guess is that an interrelation exists between the moon's long-range variations and its consequent effect on tides, ocean temperatures and climate. Weather men knew last week that not until the atmospheric stagnation over the U. S. should be dissipated by the unknown combination of forces that regulate all weather, would the worst drought in U. S. meteorological history be broken.
Beneath a brazier sun green pastures, fresh corn lands, lush gardens from Virginia to Kansas turned brown and sere. The Potomac, Ohio and Mississippi rivers dwindled to a sluggish standstill. Corn wilted away on stunted stalks. Grass shrivelled up before it could be hayed. Live stock, famished for feed and water, was hustled to slaughter before it died. Fruit and truck rotted. Catastrophe was upon a million farm families.
Washington last week took recognizance of the drought, then nearly two months old. President Hoover recalled Secretary of Agriculture Hyde from a western trip, announced that the Federal Government would "leave no stone unturned" to give assistance to stricken husbandmen. With experienced directness the President took charge personally. Rapidly assembled at his order were Department of Agriculture reports by field agents on the exact location and degree of drought damage. Hardest hit apparently were Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia. Montana, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska. President Hoover summoned the governors of these twelve states to a White House conference this week to devise specific plans for relief. Chairman Legge of the Federal Farm Board prepared to fly back from his "crusade" in Idaho to Washington to attend this meeting. Ohio's crop loss was estimated at $200,000,000, Kentucky's at $100,000,000, Missouri's $115,000,000. Husbandmen, despairing of carrying their stock through the winter without fodder, were selling their cattle at ruinous losses.