Heatwave naming

06 October 2023

Heat has emerged as a major public health risk and will continue to pose a significant threat with additional climate change. Yet persistent low awareness of the health risks of heat, during heatwaves and moderate heat days, means thousands of preventable deaths occur annually.

A civil society effort in the United States put forward a pilot to name and rank heatwaves to raise awareness of broad impacts of heat on society and the environment. As WMO coordinates the international naming system for tropical cyclones, which are clearly distinguishable, trackable and predictable weather systems. What has been established for tropical cyclone events is not necessarily appropriate for or translatable to heatwaves.

It was decided that naming heatwave events puts focus on the wrong issues. Naming singular heatwave events misdirects public and media attention away from the messages that matter most, which are: who is in danger and how to respond.

For more information: Considerations regarding the Naming of Heatwaves - Technical Brief

Related Topics: