What's wrong with the phrase: "mini-tornado"?
(prepared with help & advice from Les Crossan - a stalwart of this newsgroup, who sums it up perfectly by going " ... ' freak ' (argh): ' mini - tornado '- AAARGHHHH - CALL TORRO FAST! " If you want to help lower his blood pressure, read on ..... )
Within the memory of many of us 'oldies', there was a view amongst quite respectable meteorologists in this country that tornadoes just didn't happen in the British Isles. Any damage was caused by a "freak gust" - and that was that. Over the last 40 or so years, thanks largely to work by British stormchasers, officials and members of TORRO (see the 'useful sites' section), the fact that British & Irish tornadoes do indeed occur has entered the public consciousness, and more importantly, the Press / Media are now also aware. The British Isles are recognized as being the most tornado - prone landmass on Planet Earth (Fujita) and have a disproportionate number of weaker T1-2 events (Brooks) - the TORRO site has more on this.
However, it is unfortunate that the prefix 'mini' has come into use somewhere along the line, presumably in an (unnecessary) attempt to try and differentiate between our events, and the sometimes more powerful tornadoes of the North American continent. 'Mini', as used for the small car, or a small skirt, or a short-lived spell of heat might be appropriate, but not for 'our' tornadoes, which do indeed belong to the same family of Whirlwind events observed on the other side of the Atlantic (& elsewhere around the world).
A much better qualification would be 'weak' (or 'moderate' if applicable)[or the U.S. term 'landspout' could be used - coined by Les Lemon and others for describing non - supercellular tornadic events]. Even weak tornadoes cause some damage - but 'weak' is presumably 'wimpish' in media-speak (for some): for us in this newsgroup though, we avoid the rather derogatory term " mini-tornado ". And as for 'freak' .... well that's another story and covered in the TORRO FAQ (via the 'useful sites' section), as are many other facts related to tornadoes, waterspouts, funnel clouds etc.