The hub of the disaster was Boise City in Cimarron County, the westernmost county in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Neighboring areas — the Texas Panhandle, southwestern Kansas, southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico — also were among the hardest hit.
The massive dust storms peaked on April 14, 1935, a day that became known as Black Sunday. Towering columns of dust choked out the daylight, reducing visibility to a few feet in areas throughout the Dust Bowl.
“The Dust Bowl” features interviews with 26 survivors, the observations of two women who left behind written accounts, seldom-seen movie footage, previously unpublished photographs and music by Woody Guthrie.
“Unlike any other story that we've told,” Burns said, “this is almost completely a bottom-up story, told by the folks who experienced it, their own memories. That's what makes this particularly special for us.”
Staff writer Ken Raymond contributed to this story.