Heat Action Day coincides with early, intense heat

Source(s): World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

An unusually early and intense heatwave is spreading up from North Africa through Europe. Nearly one third of the American population is under some form of heat advisory.

Although it is only mid-June, temperatures are more typical of those witnessed in July or August. The ongoing episodes follow a prolonged heatwave in India and Pakistan in March and April.

As a result of climate change, heatwaves are starting earlier and are becoming more frequent and more severe because of record concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The WMO co-sponsored Global Heat Health Information Network and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are therefore marking 14 June as Heat Action Day to raise awareness of how to #BeatTheHeat.

The campaign addresses issues including how to recognize and prevent heat-related health risks at home, at work, during sports and leisure. It gives advice on how to stay cool and hydrated and ensure the safety of family, friends and neighbours.

“Due to climate change, heat waves are on the rise globally—getting both hotter and longer. But they don't need to lead to tragedy. There are simple actions we can all take to protect ourselves, our neighbours, our family members and friends. These include drinking water, resting in the shade, and avoiding outdoor activity in the hottest part of the day,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“We need a Heat Action Day to raise awareness about this silent emergency so more people worldwide can stay safe and #BeatTheHeat,” said the IFRC.

Extreme heat is the deadliest of all natural hazards. The WMO community is a critical partner for local authorities to save lives from this major climate and health hazard. The provision of Heat-health warnings and effective public advisory by NMHS underpin the ability of local authorities to implement heat action plans including mobilize preparedness for extreme heat events. City dwellers are particularly susceptible because of the so-called urban heat island effect which magnifies heat impacts compared to the countryside where there is more vegetation.

The World Health Organization has recommended expanding Heat-Health Action plans in the European region.


The Spanish national meteorological and hydrological service AEMET said that temperatures in the interior of the country neared 40°C on 14 June and that the heat was set to persist.

High temperatures and drought combined in an extreme fire risk for much of Spain and part of Portugal. Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) reported the warmest May since 1931 and the severe drought situation is affecting 97% of the territory.

France saw its warmest and driest May on record.

Meteo-France said that heat would spread from the south of the country from 15 June and peak between 16 and 18 June. Maximum daytime temperatures are forecast at 35 to 38°C and minimum overnight ones above 20°C.

"The remarkable precocity of this episode is an aggravating factor,” said Meteo-France, adding that it was the earliest since 1947.

The heat is being fuelled by an Atlantic low-pressure system between the Azores islands and Madeira, favouring the uprising of warm air in western Europe.

In late June 2019, France and neighbouring countries also saw an extreme heatwave, with multiple temperature records broken.

"Every heatwave occurring in Europe today is made more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change," said a study published by scientists at World Weather Attribution on the Human contribution to record-breaking June 2019 heatwave in France. 

United States

The US National Weather Service said that Dangerous, record-setting heat is forecast to continue from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast through midweek because of a dome of high pressure. This heat, combined with high humidity, will likely produce heat indices well into the triple digits in many locations.

Excessive Heat Watches, Excessive Heat Warnings, and Heat Advisories currently extend from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast -- impacting nearly a third of the U.S. population. 

Heat-related illnesses and deaths are a high concern in these conditions- but they are largely preventable with proper planning, education, and action. The National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) has information for the US regarding signs of heat related illnesses, tips for protecting yourself and your family, and more. 

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