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Heatwaves are getting named like Hurricanes

Mike Campbell

August 5, 2022

A city in Spain has become the first in the world to give heatwaves names — much like we do with hurricanes — to make them sound more serious.

Spain is giving heatwaves names as if they were hurricanes
Spain is giving heatwaves names as if they were hurricanes

“As climate change continues to intensify the temperature, frequency and duration of heat waves, year after year, proMETEO Seville was devised to raise awareness and inform Seville’s residents about the dangerous effects of heat on human health by anchoring public awareness campaigns to a three-tiered category system integrated with the City’s emergency and disaster response plans,” said the mayor of Seville.

The heatwaves will be named in reverse alphabetical order, making “Zoe” the first named heatwave. After that, Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao, and Vega are on the docket for the next heatwaves.

According to the pilot project’s website, the criteria for when a heatwave gets a name takes into account a specific region’s history of weather. In other words, if one city faces temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius over a few days, it could get a name, while if it were that hot in another city, it wouldn’t be classified as a named heatwave.

In Seville, Zoe was over 40 degrees, but temperatures quickly cooled (as they always do), so Zoe has been announced dead. However, the announcement of Zoe’s passing also came with advice to continue following the same safety precautions against heat stroke.

Given the absurd criteria, it’s unsurprising that another heatwave was announced just days later, but temperatures aren’t expected to be quite as high, so officials haven’t utilized ‘Yago’ yet. 

The project also claims it’s “At the forefront of climate change” and that extreme heat “tends to be underestimated in the face of other natural disasters.”

While this strategy may raise awareness of hot weather, it’s safe to say that the media has been doing a fine job, too.

Recently, on Twitter, to highlight how weather reporting has become propaganda, people have pointed out the stark contrast of graphics used in weather reporting today compared to just a few years prior, with news stations utilizing blood red to show hotter regions rather than less abrasive colours.

The novelty of naming heatwaves like they’re some kind of natural disaster is just an extension of this trend — an extension that’s not likely to go away anytime soon.

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