World’s First Named Heat Wave, Zoe, Arrives in Seville

Seville is a Spanish city with 700,000. It’s already experiencing its fourth heat wave. This comes as part of a record season in Europe. But this one’s a little different.

Seville’s current heat wave is the first in the world to get an official name: Zoe. A new categorization system for heat waves was created by the Seville government last month. This is to track not only temperatures but also their interaction with other variables like humidity, time of day and temperature.

The system sorts heat events into three tiers, with each one triggering certain measures in the city’s emergency and disaster response plans, including the deployment of community health workers to check on vulnerable people, or lengthening the opening hours for city pools. To increase awareness of the situation, names will be assigned to the top tier, just like Hurricanes in America.

Heat wave Zoe will cause daytime highs above 43°C (109°F). The heat wave Zoe is predicted to continue until Tuesday July 26th. It is possible that heatwaves Yago and Xenia as well as Wenceslao and Vega could be following its lead later in the summer.

A heat wave is not defined by one scientific method. Different countries use this term to refer to periods when temperatures are significantly higher than the local average. In the summer 2022, there was an uncommonly large number of heatwaves across the northern hemisphere. These included countries such as Spain, Portugal Portugal, France and Iran.

As heat waves become more frequent and intense due to climate change, Seville’s hope is that naming them will make people, businesses, and government departments take the risks of heat more seriously. The estimates from the Carlos III Health Institute, which is a public research institution, show that 510 Spanish people were killed by heat-related causes between July 10-16.

Hearing “Heat wave Zoe is coming” rather than “it’s going to be extremely hot” could make more people listen to health warnings during heat waves, and remember to do things like avoiding exertion, drinking water, or checking on elderly relatives, potentially reducing death tolls.

It’s too early to tell if Seville’s experiment will work. But Kathy Baughman McLeod, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, the U.S.-based think tank that helped design Seville’s system, says she hopes “this pilot will serve as a model for other leaders and governments to follow. People do not have to die from heat.”

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