SÃO JOSÉ DOS CAMPOS, Brazil (BNC) by J. Randal Matheny — The windshield cracked in a thousand pieces, but prevented the meter-and-a-half-long roof tile from puncturing the glass and entering the car. It bounced and landed on top of the car, apparently, where it came to rest, and left a large dent from the impact.
The hood, fender, and two doors were also scratched up and dented, somehow, perhaps from other debris.
I had just pulled up between two cars in the parking lot of the small market near our home on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The wife had asked me to bring home bananas. The roofing tile hit the car just before I reached for the door handle to dash for the market door.
It had rained intermittently all day. At shortly after 5 pm, dark roiling clouds promised bad weather. By the time I drove in to the market, high winds were bowing the trees, and hard rain began to fall. I had hoped to make a quick dash into the store, make my purchase, and scoot home before the worst of it hit.
After the car’s windshield shattered, I sat stunned for a moment, then headed for the market door. No one was allowed to enter. They told me lightning had hit the roof. Large white tiles floated down from the high ceiling. Water poured in, and employees moved merchandise out from under the affected area.
It was apparently from the lightning strike that the large piece of roofing tile fell on my car.
We were grateful that I suffered no bodily harm. We hope that the market owner’s insurance will cover the car repairs, but we may have to depend on the city bus for the month or so that the car will be in the shop.
Tuesday the Civil Defense registered 81 storm incidents, over half of them fallen trees or large branches.
Brazil leads all other nations in the number of lightning strikes — 100 million of them annually. Studies have shown that the city of São José dos Campos has a particularly high density of lightning strikes.
One man registered a lightning strike on a residence in the city last year.
We didn’t consider this newsworthy, but a fellow editor encouraged us to post it.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us