Using ground-based GPS and digital ionosonde instruments, we have built up at latitudes of the equatorial ionization anomaly (EIA), in the Brazilian sector, a time-evolving picture of total electron content (TEC), L-band amplitude scintillations, and F region heights, and we have investigated likely reasons for the occurrence or suppression of equatorial scintillations during the disturbed period of 18-23 November 2003. During the prestorm quiet nights, scintillations are occurring postsunset, as expected; however, during the storm time period, their spatial-temporal characteristics and intensity modify significantly owing to the dramatic changes in the ionospheric plasma density distribution and in the temporal evolution of TEC. The two-dimensional maps showing both TEC and amplitude scintillations revealed strong evidence of turbulences at the Fresnel length (causing scintillations) concurrent with those regions of steepest TEC gradients adjacent to the crests of the EIA. The largest density gradients have been found to occur in an environment of increased background electron density, and their spatial distribution and location during the disturbed period may differ significantly from the magnetic quiet night pattern. However, in terms of magnitude the gradients at equatorial and low latitudes appear to not change during both magnetic quiet and disturbed conditions. The scenarios for the formation or suppression of scintillation-producing Fresnel-scale irregularities during the prestorm quiet nights and disturbed nights are discussed in view of different competing effects computed from numerical simulation techniques.