World's First Named Heatwave – "Zoe" – Scorches Spanish City

"Zoe" is the world's first named heatwave, but it won't be the last.


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Street thermometer on the LED sign of a pharmacy showing a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius (122ºF) in the streets of Seville, Spain.
Street thermometer on the LED sign of a pharmacy showing a temperature of 50°C (122°F) in the streets of Seville, Spain. Image credit: SeluGallego/

The world’s first named heatwave – dubbed “Zoe” – has hit the fiendishly hot city of Seville in Spain this week. The pioneering weather warning system in Seville is designed to highlight the dangerous impacts of scorching extreme weather on the public – something that’s going to become all the more common as the climate crisis continues.

Another part of the local project will see the categorizing of heatwaves in a three-tier system, with category one being the least severe to category three being the most. "Zoe" has now been listed as a category three heatwave, with temperatures braced to reach up to 43°C (110°F), according to an announcement from proMeteo Sevilla.


Following "Zoe," the next four names for heat waves reaching category three in Seville will be named: Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao, and Vega.

The pilot project, named proMETEO Sevilla, was only unveiled last month and it's already seen its first named heatwave. It's part of a collaboration between the City of Seville, Arsht-Rock’s Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance Science Advisory Panel, Spain’s Meteorology Agency, AEMET, the University of Sevilla, Pablo de Olavide University; the Carlos III Institute, the Spanish Office for Climate Change, and El Día Después.

“We are the first city in the world to take a step that will help us plan and take measures when this type of meteorological event happens – particularly because heat waves always hit the most vulnerable,” Antonio Muñoz, the Mayor of Seville, said in a statement last month. “The city government ratifies its commitment in the fight against climate change through the reduction of emissions and decarbonization, and second, through adaptation–to make Seville a resilient city with a model that truly tackles the big challenge of rising heat.”

Seville is in the Andalusia region, which is one of the hottest regions in Spain. Seville is especially prone to searing hot weather because it’s tucked away from the cooling influence of the coast.


Like many places around the world, Spain is starting to feel the heat of the climate crisis. It’s estimated that the average temperature in 2020 in the country was 1.7 °C (3°F) higher than the average in the preindustrial era before prolific fossil fuel use. 

Human bodies function best at temperatures between 37°C (98°F) and 37.8°C (100°F), so high temperatures can easily trigger extra stress on the human body and spark health problems, including heat stroke, severe dehydration, acute cerebrovascular accidents, and contribute to blood clots.

With rising global temperatures only set to increase further, the city of Seville and countless others across the globe can expect to see even more severe effects on human health and wellbeing.


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