What's the best way to express tornado and hurricane in Russian? From Wiktionary and Google Images, it looks like ураган can mean both, so how should one express each separately?
For example: "Are you more scared of tornadoes or hurricanes?"
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I believe that tornado is "смерч" and hurricane is "ураган". In my understanding tornado are very rare in Russia, that's why "смерч" word is also pretty rare, so not even every people could say the difference from "ураган" And the "ураган" phonetically pretty similar to hurricane, so it is pretty much the same word and notion.
Ураган is often used as a synonym to "strong wind", not the actual hurricane.
I think ураган can mean both, but rarely, because to refer to a tornado, we have two words in Russian:
торнадо - is a tornado in North America.
смерч - this word is used, if we are talking about a "tornado" elsewhere, they are much less powerful. We usually do not use торнадо to refer to a whirlwind for instance in Russia.
ураган - is usually about a hurricane, I mean a wind, weather conditions on much larger area compared to a tornado, and we do not use it widely (if at all) to refer to a tornado or a whirlwind.