The 1932 San Ciprian hurricane was a powerful Atlantic tropical cyclone that struck Puerto Rico during the 1932 Atlantic hurricane season. The ninth tropical cyclone, fourth hurricane and third major hurricane of the 1932 season, the San Ciprian Hurricane formed on September 25 east of the Leeward Islands and moved due west where it quickly gained hurricane strength a day later. After peaking as a Category 4 storm, the hurricane crossed the entire length of Puerto Rico at Category 4 strength. The hurricane later struck the Dominican Republic as a Category 1 storm. Weakened by its three landfalls, the storm continued to trek westward as a weak tropical storm before making its fourth and fifth landfalls in Belize and mainland Mexico. The storm then dissipated on October 3.
The San Ciprian Hurricane took an unusual east to west path across Puerto Rico, producing damage across the entire length of the United States territory. The next storm to follow a similar path was Hurricane Georges in 1998. Overall damage in Puerto Rico was catastrophic as the storm left $30 million (1932 USD, $443 million 2006 USD) and 225-257 fatalities. The hurricane also caused moderate damage in the Virgin Islands.
A possible Cape Verde-type hurricane, the San Ciprian storm was detected by ships as a tropical storm on September 25. A strong high pressure system to the north kept the storm moving due west. It reached hurricane strength hours later as it passed the islands of Antigua and St. Barthelemy at 3 p.m. On September 26, the hurricane passed through the rest of the Leeward Islands as it gained strength. During its journey, the hurricane quickly strengthened to Category 4 status and its winds peaked at 145 mph (230 km/h). At 10 p.m., the hurricane made landfall near Ceiba, with the eye passing directly over the Ensenada Honda harbor. After striking Puerto Rico, the storm continued westward where it made its second landfall near Santo Domingo on September 27. The storm weakened as it crossed into Haiti as a tropical storm. After impacting Hispaniola, the storm continued westward where it brushed past Jamaica to the south. On October 1, the tropical storm made landfall in Belize (then known as British Honduras) and crossed over the Yucatan Peninsula before making its final landfall near Veracruz, Mexico. It dissipated on October 3.
Forecasters at the United States Weather Bureau issued tropical cyclone watches and warnings for the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Martin. In Puerto Rico, forecasters began to issue warnings on September 26, and police and municipality leaders were notified of the storm's approach. The Governor of Puerto Rico called an emergency meeting with the territories' police chief, the general of the National Guard, Commissioner of Health, and other officials to discuss the preparation for the storm and what actions must be taken after the storm passes. The warnings prompted residents to board up their windows and take precautions.
In the Dominican Republic, the hurricane's approach triggered fears of a second disaster as that country was still recovering from the destruction by the 1930 Dominican Republic Hurricane two years earlier. The concern prompted residents to close businesses and evacuate; some sought to nearby churches for shelter. In Jamaica, meteorologists forecast the storm to move north of the island after passing over Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The track of the storm prompted the forecasters to issue advisories for oceangoing ships and small watercraft. The countries of Honduras and Belize also took preparations ahead of the storm as people closed shops and other businesses in anticipation of the storm's landfall.
The impact of the San Ciprian Hurricane was the worst Puerto Rico (including San Juan) has seen since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. Damage from the 1932 hurricane also occurred in areas that escaped damage from the 1928 storm. Damage from the 1932 hurricane affected 49 municipalities in Puerto Rico.
Weather stations in St. Croix and St. Thomas reported 60 mph (97 km/h) winds and barometric pressures ranging from 1000 to 1001 mbar (29.52 to 29.55 inHg). The storm caused moderate damage in the Virgin Islands as heavy seas sank or heavily damaged small boats and ships in St. Thomas. The New York Times reported that the hurricane killed 15 people in the Virgin Islands.
In Puerto Rico, the hurricane produced heavy rainfall and two ships reported barometric pressures of 938 to 948 mbar (27.70 to 27.99 inHg). A weather station reported winds of 66 mph (106 km/h) and increasing velocities before the station was blown down by the storm. As the hurricane passed Puerto Rico, a weather station in San Juan reported a barometric pressure reading of 980 mbar (28.93 inHg) during the height of the storm.
Offshore, the rough seas brought by the hurricane caused heavy damage to shipping as the storm surge caused two boats to run aground near Ceiba. In San Juan, two more boats sustained severe damage. The storm surge and high winds also damaged or destroyed several warehouses. Elsewhere in Puerto Rico, the damage was even more severe as the hurricane's high winds destroyed many homes in outlying villages killing 109 people. The highest death toll came from the town of Rio Piedras which was directly in the path of the hurricane and many of the homes were in poor condition to withstand the hurricane's winds. Damage to roads, power lines, and roads disrupted communications and access to the interior portion of Puerto Rico. Heavy rainfall from the hurricane caused significant flooding that left many homes and buildings under 1.5 feet (0.4 meter) of water.
Agricultural damage from the hurricane was severe as the storm damaged or destroyed much of the citrus, sugar, coffee, tobacco, and honey harvests. Overall crop damage totaled up to $20 million (1932 USD). In addition, over 400,000 livestock perished in the storm leaving $470,837 dollars (1932 USD) in lost value. Overall, the hurricane killed 257 people, 4,280 more injured and 70-500 thousand homeless. Total storm damage amounted to $30 million (1932 USD, $443 million 2006 USD)
In the Dominican Republic, a weather station in San Pedro de Macoris reported winds of 90 mph (145 km/h) while another weather station in Santo Domingo reported winds of 50 mph (80 km/h). Damage in the Dominican Republic was limited to crops and there were no fatalities. The storm then continued on to affect Haiti, Belize and Mexico as a weak tropical storm. Damage in those countries if any was unknown.
In the Virgin Islands, officials and the Red Cross provided $25,000 dollars (1932 USD) in relief aid. In Puerto Rico, soon after the disaster, the United States National Guard was sent to help injured and homeless residents in the storm affected areas. The American Red Cross also help in distributing food, medical equipment. On September 27,Secretary Woodfin L. Butte surveyed the damage from an airplane to determine which towns sustained most damage from the hurricane. On the same day a local officials set up several relief committees to help continue the relief effort, these committees raised $74,998 (1932 USD) in relief aid. President Herbert Hoover sent his condolences to the Governor Beverley after the storm. WKAQ, Puerto Rico's radio station began broadcasting radio addresses by Governor Beverley encouraging residents to continue the hurricane cleanup and relief effort. In the overall relief effort, $164,000 dollars (1932 USD) in hurricane relief aid was spent.