A powerful hurricane slams into the Dominican Republic, killing more than 8,000 people, on this day in 1930. September is a prime month for hurricanes in the Caribbean, as storms that form off the African coast move west and are fueled by waters in the island region that have been warming all summer long.
The storm was first observed near the Windward Islands on August 31. The following day, it reached Dominica, punishing the tiny island. On September 2, the hurricane gathered even more strength. As it reached Puerto Rico, gusts of more than 200 miles per hour were recorded. Still, the death toll in Puerto Rico was relatively small.
The hurricane, moving quickly with a very small diameter, caused the barometer to fall at a record pace as it headed directly for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Thousands died when winds toppled trees and buildings onto people, in floods caused by torrential rains and in mudslides. Five thousand others were seriously injured.
The effects of the storm were seen and felt long after it passed. The majority of the crops on the island were destroyed. In addition, key ships in the harbors sank, hampering relief efforts. Approximately $15 million in damages were inflicted, a significant amount relative to the island's small economy at the time.
Storms in the Atlantic Ocean were not given names until 1953.