We’re Going to Get More Familiar with Heat Waves. Might as Well Start Naming Them.

June 11, 2022

Meteorologists are starting to name heat waves the same way they have named Hurricanes, and more recently, Winter Storms. The giant winter storm that caused the deadly Texas blackouts of last year, is referred to as “Uri”.
There’s also talk of rating heat waves for intensity, the way we do Hurricanes and Tornadoes.


There’s a growing effort to name and categorize heat waves the way we do hurricanes — to call attention to their significance, alert people to dangerous temperatures and prod public officials into action.

Why it matters: Heat waves are the deadliest type of weather emergency in the U.S. They’re bigger killers than floods, tornadoes or hurricanes — and they’re growing in frequency and intensity due to global warming

  • Excessive heat — which hits low-income communities the hardest — doesn’t lend itself to dramatic TV coverage, so people sometimes underestimate the risk.
  • Proponents of a more formal public warning system say it could save lives and trigger measures like opening community cooling stations and asking people to stay indoors.

Driving the news: This month Seville, Spain is poised to become the first city to start naming severe heat waves. 

  • Five other cities — Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; Kansas City, Missouri; and Athens — have also started piloting a similar initiative, using weather data and public health criteria to categorize heat waves.
  • They’ll use a three-category system that organizers want to standardize. Each city’s system will be tailored to its particular climate.
  • A “category three” heat wave in L.A., for example, will look and feel quite different from the same designation in Milwaukee.

“Some of the places least accustomed to heat are the most at risk,” says Kathy Baughman McLeod, director of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (known colloquially as Arsht-Rock), which is spearheading efforts to name and categorize heat waves.

Details: Under the warning system starting up in the six global cities, “category one” is the least severe, while “category three” would be “the top 10% of terrible heat waves,” said Larry Kalkstein, Arsht-Rock’s chief heat science adviser.

  • “For all three of them, we’d recommend to stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible,” he tells Axios.
  • Each participating city “has a different set of formulas” that will determine what the categories look like, based in part on their urban structure, Kalkstein said. For example: Philadelphia has lots of brick row homes with black tar roofs that trap heat.
  • Any of the designations would ideally prompt city pools to open, outdoor sports to be curtailed, emergency heat lines to be activated, and workers to go door-to-door checking on the elderly and at-risk.

Where it stands: Arsht-Rock and its two-year-old Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance are pressing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the World Meteorological Organization to make naming and ranking of heat waves standard practice.

Below, Phoenix Meteorologist Amber Sullins on Heat as the “Silent Killer”.


The city of Seville, Spain has announced plans to become the first major city in the world to start naming and categorizing heat waves, the same way tropical storms and hurricanes are named in other parts of the world. The effort is set to begin in 2022

The city’s mayor, Juan Espadas, said in a statement on Monday that he’s proud that Seville, located in one of the hottest regions of Spain, is the first city to start naming and categorizing heat waves. He hopes other cities in the world also take on the idea. 

“Extreme heat waves are becoming more frequent and devastating as a direct effect from climate change. Local governments should address the threat heat poses to our populations, particularly the most vulnerable, by raising awareness of heat-health related hazards through evidence based data and science, Espadas said.


13 Responses to “We’re Going to Get More Familiar with Heat Waves. Might as Well Start Naming Them.”

  1. cameronmelin Says:

    Heatwaves were much more frequent during the 1930s. Climate alarmists appear increasingly desperate to maintain fear mongering as fewer and fewer people worry about carbon dioxide. Thank God the glaciers aren’t advancing. If they were, that would be a real emergency and probably the same jet-setting hypocrites would demand that we make fundamental changes to the ecconomy to fix a supposed problem.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      “Heatwaves were much more frequent during the 1930s.”

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Ah, I see: You’re sharing a factoid about the US’ Midwest Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

      The entire 50 United States represents about 2% of the globe.
      The area of the Dust Bowl represented maybe .08% of the globe for about 8 years.

      We know what caused the Dust Bowl, and what it took to repair it. It didn’t grossly increase ocean heat content, it didn’t melt the Arctic, it didn’t cause massive wildfires in Australia, Canada and Siberia, it didn’t eat break and melt Antarctic ice shelves, it didn’t put back-to-back major tropical cyclones in Madagascar, SW Louisiana, Honduras, or the Philippines, it didn’t bleach most of the world’s coral reefs and it didn’t slow the AMOC.

      • cameronmelin Says:

        If the the dust bowl representing a tiny fraction of the Earth surface is irrelevant, than alarmists can put a dock in it when they cry bloody murder about events that effect smaller amounts of land for less time.

        James Hansen and many others predicted an Ice Free Arctic by dates that have come and gone, but despite their failed predictions, year after year, the mainstream media continues to claim that climate change is happening “faster that previously thought”.

        If the drought of 1540 or Galviaton hurricane happened today, you would certainly blame carbon dioxide. The Mayans abandoned entire regions because of drought, but jet-setting hypocrites insist that every adverse weather event is a sign of an apocalypse that can only be prevented by eating bugs and replacing every automobile and peice of power generation equipment in the world. Deaths from weather-related events have declined dramatically in the past century. Food production has increased. There is no emergency.

        Like polar bears, the world reefs are doing far betrer than the MSM would like you to believe.

        • Mark Mev Says:

          “James Hansen and many others predicted an Ice Free Arctic by dates that have come and gone”
          I’ve tried and failed to find any papers where scientists predicted this happening. Do you have a single paper with this type of failed prediction?
          The closet I’ve found is:
          This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally warned that “at this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.”
          This is a “prediction” based on short term rate of melting that was happen in 2007. Not a paper.
          Then there is Hansen in 2008:
          “We see a tipping point occurring right before our eyes,” Hansen told the AP before the luncheon. “The Arctic is the first tipping point and it’s occurring exactly the way we said it would.”
          Hansen, echoing work by other scientists, said that in five to 10 years, the Arctic will be free of sea ice in the summer.
          No direct quote, so I have no idea if Hansen said any qualifications to this prediction. Scientists have a habit of qualifying predictions.

          Any help in finding a real paper is welcomed.

          • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

            “…can you deny that the media and government would certainly blame fossil fuels if it happened today?”

            “The media” includes uninformed and click-baiting ratings-seekers as well as people who know how to seek out expertise. The stories I hear even from the mainstream media do include other factors for problems: Excess water diversion, overmining of aquifers, water-wasting agricultural processes, unbudgeted forest management, aging infrastructure, booming populations, etc. Any one of those local problems is an issue with some local influence, but extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases makes problems worldwide worse.

            Twenty years ago the CIA released a report warning that global warming would become a threat multiplier by stressing food supplies and triggering harsher storms and heat waves, and we’re seeing that. It isn’t a linear system and we shouldn’t expect a linear response. The predicted extra warming of the Arctic has broken our jet stream, and now heat waves and cold waves can get stuck longer. Northerners are experiencing heat waves they never dreamed of.

            As for blaming fossil fuel, if anything, we’ve been ignoring all of the other damaging externalities that coal, oil and gas have produced. Human lungs inhaling coal plant smoke, oil spills destroying estuaries and rivers, wars over oil&gas fields, leaking gas stations, making allies of oppressive petrostates, mountaintop removal, and toxic tailpipes are all reasons we should have been moving away from these fossil fuels decades ago.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          There are different “knobs” that can affect how much heat the planet gains: The distance to the sun, the output of the sun, the amount of aerosols blocking sunlight, the lowered albedo when ice melts or it gets dirty, etc.

          The physics of greenhouse gases trapping heat is pretty basic (CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas, but it stays in the atmosphere a long time). Another confirmation that the extra heat being measured is due to the greenhouse effect is the fact that the stratosphere is cooling. Much of the infrared radiation that used to make it back out to the stratosphere is being blocked in the troposphere.

          If the Galveston Hurricane happened today, our modern warning systems (and building codes and evacuation routes) would prevent the deaths. I recommend Erik Larson’s book about the 1900 Category 4 Galveston Hurricane Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History to understand the crude nature of forecasting at the time and the vulnerability of building on barrier islands. (BTW, 2008 Hurricane Ike had a 22 foot storm surge at Galveston compared to the ~16 foot storm surge of the deadly 1900 Galveston hurricane.)

          • cameronmelin Says:

            I’m glad you recognize the other factors that effect weather. Someone pointed to land use as a driver for the dust bowl of the 1930s. The heatwaves of that era standout in the data like no other phenomena. Clearly, carbon dioxide was not the cheif factor there, but can you deny that the media and government would certainly blame fossil fuels if it happened today?

          • cameronmelin Says:

            Apparently the highest storm surge in world history occurred in Northern Australia in 1899. 40ft. Yoiks!

  2. jimbills Says:

    Not a good place to put this, but I saw this today:
    ScienceAlert: Japan Is Dropping a Gargantuan Turbine Into The Ocean to Harness ‘Limitless’ Energy.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      “IHI estimates that if the energy present in the [Kuroshio current] could be harnessed, it could feasibly generate around 205 gigawatts of electricity, an amount it claims is in the same ballpark as the country’s current power generation.”

      So how much would it cost to make and maintain enough of these 100kW monsters to make it cost-effective?

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