Forget sweaty Betty! The World Meteorological Organization says it has “no immediate plans” to name heatwaves the same as storms.
- Last week, scientists said heat waves should be named after storms.
- World Meteorological Organization throws cold water on claims
- It states that the naming system “cannot necessarily be easily translated into heatwaves”.
From Storm Eunice in February this year before Hurricane Angus in 2016, a number of devastating hurricanes have hit the UK in recent years.
with office calls these storms “aid to communications” and helps the public “keep themselves, their property, and their businesses safe.”
However, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has criticized the proposal, saying it has “no immediate plans” to name heat waves.
It claims that the naming system “many does not necessarily translate to heatwaves”, and that names can “create false alarms”.
Record heatwaves hit parts of Europe this week, with temperatures reaching 40.3°C in the UK, prompting the Met Office to issue the first-ever red extreme heat warning.
Last week, scientists from the Physiological Society in London said heat waves should be named after storms.
The hottest day in Britain on record
Britain had the hottest day on record on Tuesday with temperatures rising above 40°C (104F).
Mercury reached unprecedented 40.3°C (104.5F) at Coningsby and 40.2°C (104.4F) at London Heathrow Airport at 12:50 – about an hour after the 39.1°C (102.4F) reading in Charlwood, Surrey, surpassing all previous performance. UK high of 38.7C (101.7F) at Cambridge in July 2019. In third place was 38.5C (101.3F) in Kent in August 2003 and 38.1C (100.6F) in Suffolk yesterday in fourth place.
Elsewhere in England, the mercury rose to 39.9°C (103.8°F) at Charlwood, 39.6°C (103.3°F) at Kew Gardens in West London, 39.3°C ( 102.7°F) in Wisley in Surrey and 39.2°C (102.6°F) in both cities. Chertsey in Surrey and Northolt in West London are all above the UK’s all-time high since 2019.
Record heatwaves hit parts of Europe this week, with temperatures reaching 40.3C (104.5F) in the UK, prompting the Met Office to issue a red extreme heat warning for the first time.
The Physiological Society claims that naming such heat waves will “help with communication”.
Professor Mike Tipton of the Physiological Society said: “As part of raising awareness of the threat of heat waves in the UK, heat waves should be called the same as we call storms.”
“This makes it clear that there is a health risk and that people cannot expect to behave as usual during a heat wave.
“This will help communicate upcoming heatwaves through the media and government agencies.
“This is especially helpful for those who don’t have access to the internet or weather apps on their smartphones.”
In response to these claims, the WMO released a statement explaining why it has “no immediate plans” to name heat waves.
“What has been established for tropical cyclone events may not necessarily be easily transferred to heatwaves,” the report said.
“Caution should be exercised when comparing or applying lessons or protocols from one type of hazard to another due to important differences in the physical nature and impacts of storms and heatwaves.”
What is the definition of a heatwave in the UK?
The UK heat-wave threshold is considered to have been reached if at any location there is a period of at least three consecutive days of maximum daily temperatures at or above the heat-wave temperature threshold.
The threshold varies by county in the UK.
The Met Office heat wave threshold has been updated ahead of summer 2022.
The initial heat wave thresholds were calculated based on the climatology of the 1981-2010 maximum daily temperature. in the middle of meteorological summer (July 15).
The revised thresholds will use the 1991-2020 averaging period introduced in January 2022. Geographical differences reflect differences in the UK’s climate.
There is currently no agreed international system for defining heat waves.
The Met Office says on its website that a heatwave threshold is reached “when a location experiences a period of at least three consecutive days in which daily maximum temperatures meet or exceed the heatwave temperature threshold.”
However, this definition differs in other countries, which may be problematic for the proposed naming system.
“Heatwaves can be predicted 10 days ahead in many areas (mostly extratropical and high latitudes), but in many regions (mostly in the tropics) there is a lack of 3-day lead time skills,” explains WMO.
“Prediction-based naming creates additional problems because the named events may not actually occur, may be less serious, or occur in other places.
“This has the potential to undermine any benefits of raising awareness through naming and create false alarms.”
WMO says that instead of naming heatwaves, more efforts should be made to educate the public about the dangers of such events and the steps they can take to protect themselves.
“In order to protect communities from heat-related preventable diseases, the public must be aware of the actions to take during heat extremes, as well as be aware of their personal vulnerabilities, such as age, medications or medical conditions, that can make prolonged exposure to heat even below the thresholds of heat waves are also deadly,” he added.