• 2024.02.19
  • Summer Storms
Powerful storms with high winds and torrential rains are part of nature. In Brazil, they are most common in the summer months, between December and February.
If mornings start out clear with high temperatures around 33ºC or 35ºC, by around three in the afternoon you can almost guarantee heavy rain. The storms will go on for fifteen or thirty minutes, sometimes as long as an hour. Many parts of the country experience heavy rain in summer, which frequently results in landslides that damage many homes.
El Niño triggered disastrous floods in Rio Grande do Sul (located at the southern tip of Brazil) in the latter part of 2023. September 2023 had 447.3 mm of rain in the state capital of Porto Alegre, the highest monthly rainfall since they began taking measurements in 1910. The previous record was 405.5 mm back in May 1941. El Niño is predicted to last from November 2023 to May 2024, so we’re not out of the woods yet.
In October 2023, the temperature of the Amazon River increased from its typical 32ºC or so to 40ºC. Tons of fish died, along with more than a hundred of the beloved freshwater pink river dolphins. It was especially tragic as the dolphins are already classified as an endangered species.
Araçuaí, located in the state of Minas Gerais, clocked Brazil’s highest-ever temperature of 44.8ºC on November 19, 2023. Even more shocking is that November is still considered spring in that area.
Since the eighth day after 2024 began, São Paulo had afternoon storms three days in a row with wind speeds measured at 70 kilometers per hour. There can be flash flooding in areas throughout the city when the storms roll through, and it’s not uncommon for cars or people to get washed away in them. Several people died in these most recent storms as well. According to the news, the city also lost more than two hundred trees.

The tall trees planted in parks and residential areas weren’t the only casualties, either. Branches snapped and took down nearby power poles and powerlines, while also damaging cars that were parked on the streets. Several neighborhoods lost electricity.
In the area where I live, we heard crashing thunder along with transformer explosions during the downpour. Once the rain stopped, the sound of generators told us that the surrounding buildings had lost power.
It was heartbreaking to see a huge pink trumpet tree fall across the road near where we live as well. I thought of the beautiful pink flowers it produced each year. The sound of the chainsaws cutting it up the next morning felt like daggers to my heart.

There were more storms a few days later, and we were shocked to hear repeated crashing sounds in the middle of the night. The next morning, we saw that another tree had fallen in the neighborhood. Its massive roots had pulled up the concrete sidewalk, making it on the TV news. It’s hard to see a decades-old tree fall. A few days after that, we saw them cutting up the trunk with chainsaws and it felt like there was blood oozing from the pieces… like the tree was crying.
Summer is still in full swing in Brazil, and we’re just praying that it won’t bring any more storms—and that El Niño won’t bring any more disasters than it already has.


  • Nami Minaki Sandra
  • JobLanguage teacher,shadow box crafter

Born and raised in Brazil. After graduating from university, She has been teaching shadow box crafts that she learned while in Singapore where she resided for three years due to her husband’s work and she is also a language teacher. She is in love with the life here in São Paulo where cultures and traditions of various countries melt together.

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