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The Spanish word for thunderstorm is ‘tormenta.’ Or if you’re from Puerto Rico, you may call it a ‘tronada.’

‘Tornado’ is ‘tornado,’ but in Colombia, that term is used to describe a strong gust of wind, not a twister.

So providing information about extreme weather to Latino immigrants in the U.S. can be hard because people come from diverse places with different dialects.

And in some countries, weather events like ice storms or hail are rare. So some immigrants may not know the risks or how to stay safe when they occur.

“We can’t encourage people to take action if they don’t know, or we can’t even describe the threat to them,” says Joseph Trujillo Falcón of NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Severe and High-Impact Weather Research and Operations.

He worked with linguistic experts to revise the National Weather Service’s Spanish-language terms for describing the level of risk posed by severe storms.

He says the new standardized terms — which range from “mínimo” to “extremo” — can be broadly understood across dialects and clearly convey the appropriate level of urgency.

“Especially as our climate begins to make different types of disasters a lot more concerning, we need to make sure that everyone’s included in the disaster preparedness and response process,” he says.

Read: Why climate change matters to Latinos

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media