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Officials at the presention of the proMETEO Sevilla heat wave warning system, Source: Ayuntamiento de Sevilla

It’s official: Seville starts giving names to extreme heat waves

It’s official: Seville starts giving names to extreme heat waves

This makes the Andalusian city the first in the world to raise warnings about the harmful weather phenomenon

On the first day of summer, 21 June, Antonio Muñoz, the Mayor of Seville, unveiled the world’s first extreme heat wave warning system in the world, called proMETEO Sevilla. The initiative, in collaboration with the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock), was already announced last year and now it has become a reality.

Designed to partially mimic the hurricane warning systems, proMETEO Sevilla will link weather forecasts and health warnings to the general population with the aim of imparting a better sense of awareness among its members. This step is essential for public health management in the arid climate of Southern Spain.

Three categories of heat waves

Seville, located in the valley of the Guadalquivir River in Andalusia, is one of the hottest places in Spain, with temperatures easily exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in summer. Many fear that heat waves and droughts are only set to become more frequent with the change in the climate.

The system consists of three categories and will alert the public up to five days before a heat event is expected to arrive.

Each category– category one being the least severe to category three being the most – will trigger a distinct set of safety measures and policies, such as the opening of city pools and water parks, or the activation of a corps of community health workers tasked with checking on elderly and other at-risk individuals. That service will provide residents with the resources they need to protect themselves from the perils of extreme heat.

The extreme heat waves will be named in reverse alphabetical order. The first five will be called Zoe, Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao and Vega.

Other cities around the world, such as Melbourne, Athens and Los Angeles, are also working on similar plans to use weather and public health data to categorize heat waves.

Part of a larger climate strategy

Mayor Muñoz has outlined that this pioneering heat wave classification and alert system will allow the deployment of a comprehensive action strategy that affects all areas, Seville being the first city to have it.

More specifically, the strategy will involve the implementation of measures such as the deployment of a network of climate shelters, following the model on which the cities of Paris, Barcelona and Granollers are already working. 

These are air-conditioned spaces, such as schools, libraries or civic centres, that can remain open at the disposal of citizens so that they can be used as shelters during a heat wave. The concern here is to help the most vulnerable population that does not have air conditioning in their homes.

Another line is the activation of the Municipal Emergency Plan, when episodes of strong storms or winds are detected due to the risks involved, or the execution of a social intervention program for the most vulnerable population groups, such as the homeless.

Likewise, an increase in the distribution points of fresh water is contemplated. The adoption of a strategy of action against the effects of heat on animals through the Municipal Center for Animal Protection should also be mentioned among the intriguing proposals for municipal action.

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