In a spectacular sign of the times, Spain, this week, hit temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a heatwave that became the first named heatwave of a new pilot program for naming and ranking heat waves, similar to hurricanes. Under the program, only the most severe heat waves get names, designated this year in reverse alphabetical order. After Zoe, comes Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao and Vega.
The program is a partnership between the city of Seville, Spain and the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock) and will categorize heat waves under three tiers – from Category 1 the lowest ranking up to Category 3, the most severe.
As with hurricanes, each tier will trigger specific government responses such as weather alerts, open cooling centers, and mobile health teams. The heatwave’s category is based on daytime temperatures, nighttime lows, humidity, and the heat’s expected impact to humans based on the wet bulb temperature.