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English: Thunderstorms

French: Orages

In English, we make the distinction between “storm” and “thunderstorm” as it’s possible to have a storm without thunder and lightning. In French, both are usually translated as just “orage” (m).

In English, pilots usually don't just announce that there’s a “storm”. They instead just say that it’s raining (heavily) and that the winds are strong. If necessary, they will announce that there are thunderstorms in the area. Thunderstorms can cause flight delays and cancellations. If there are thunderstorms between the origin and destination, chances are your pilots will be taking detours to avoid the thunderstorms.

Turbulence can get quite bad even flying near thunderstorms, which we want to avoid. Furthermore, you don’t want to fly through the thunderstorm and risk your airplane getting struck by lightning. Don’t worry though. Can a lightning strike mid-flight bring down a plane? Possible, if the damage is severe enough, but highly, highly improbable. Each commercial airplane on average gets struck by lightning once per year. And modern planes are designed to mitigate lightning strikes in flight. And again, your pilots will do their best to avoid the thunderstorms altogether. When thunderstorms hover right above an airport, take-offs and landings may need to be delayed until the storm passes.

Because it may cause delays or extra turbulence, this information is relevant to passengers. We can translate “there are some thunderstorms.”

Il y a=There is, there are

Des orages (m)=Some storms, some thunderstorms.

Il y a des orages à Montréal. There are some thunderstorms in Montreal.

Il y a des orages près de Winnipeg. There are some thunderstorms close to Winnipeg.

You’ll sometimes hear your francophone colleagues and passengers emphasize the distinction between “storm” and “thunderstorm” by saying “orage électrique” “electrical storm”. You do not need to do this as “orage” by itself is enough to imply lightning and thunder.


Want to learn to speak the French you need to work as a flight attendant? Learn even more with Canadian French for Flight Attendants.


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