8 Ways to Die: Natural Disaster Spanish

Hurricane Rina... Riña (REEN-yah) Brawl, Fight

Desastre Natural

(day-SAH-stray  nah-tooh-RAHL)

Natural Disaster


As the tragic earthquake in Turquía gets sorted out and Hurricane Rina bears down on the Yucatán (not sure if this is a coincidence, but riña (REEN-yah) means brawl or fight in Spanish… which is exactly what the Yucatán Peninsula is in for), it’s as good a time as any to review the Español related to desastres naturales – natural disasters.

You’ll notice a couple of things regarding Natural Disaster Spanish. ONE: there are a lot of Spanish Twins – words that are identical or very close in both English and Spanish. TWO: Despite the pain, anguish, and mutilación that results from desastres naturales, these terrifying events are popular names for North American sports teams.


Here are the Top 8  Desastres Naturales:

1. Terremoto (tay-rray-MOH-toh) Earthquake

Someday they'll feel guilty for picking this name.

Terremoto doesn’t look anything like a Spanish Twin, but if we break it down into parts, it becomes easier to remember. Terra is Latin for Land – think about the new show Terra Nova: “New Land.” You know, the Jurassic Park-for-TV-with-the-guy-from-Avatar show on Fox.

Terra Nova = New Land

For moto, think motor. Motors cause things to move.

Terre + Moto = Land + Move = Earthquake.



2. Huracán (ooh-rah-KAHN) Hurricane

Spanish Twin – nice! That little dash above the second A tells us the emphasis is on the last syllable. Very helpful.

The U (OOH)



3. Tornado (tohr-NAH-doh) Tornado

Identical Spanish Twin. Fantástico.



4. Tsunami (sooh-NAH-mee) Tsunami

Identical Spanish Twin. Superfantástico.



5. Ciclón (see-KLOHN) Cyclone

Spanish Twin. Again – note that accent mark over the O.



6. Inundación (een-oohn-dah-SYOHN) Flood

Not a Spanish Twin of flood per se, but easy to remember because it’s a Twin of inundation, which means… to cover with water. Yes, it’s a $3 word you won’t use in daily conversation in English, but it would be worth massive points in a game of Scrabble.



7. Volcán (bohl-KAHN) Volcano

Spanish Twin. Here our Spanish friends decided to shave a syllable off to avoid gratuitous speech. Note the accent mark over the A.

Vancouver Volcanos Basketball... a viable alternative in an NBA-less world.



8. Avalancha (ah-bah-LAHN-chah) Avalanche

Spanish Twin… of course.

Plenty of Spanish that is easy to remember. Below is a quick recap!

Spanish Twin rundown:

  1. Natural :: Natural
  2. Desastre :: Disaster
  3. Turquía :: Turkey
  4. Mutilación :: Mutilation
  5. Huracán :: Hurricane
  6. Tornado :: Tornado
  7. Fantástico :: Fantastic
  8. Tsunami :: Tsunami
  9. Ciclón :: Cyclone
  10. Volcán :: Volcano
  11. Avalancha :: Avalanche
Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by the earthquake in Turkey and Hurricane Rina.

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

1 reply

  1. Great use of sports logos to help us understand the terms. Love the visuals.

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