Snowfall to worsen holiday traffic

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Snowfall to worsen holiday traffic

Millions of Koreans spend hours traveling to their hometowns every Lunar New Year. But this year, traffic in the central regions is expected to be even worse than usual, as the state weather agency yesterday forecast snowfall from the evening through this morning.

“Gangwon and the northern mountain areas in North Gyeongsang Province will have lots of snow, between five to 15 centimeters by today,” an official at the Korea Meteorological Administration said.

Seoul, Gyeonggi and inland areas of South Chungcheong, Jeolla and North Gyeongsang provinces were each expected to see around 1 centimeter of snowfall by last night, and the weather agency official warned that the snow on the roads could turn into slippery ice.

Many Koreans began their journeys to their hometowns yesterday, just a day before the three-day holiday, to avoid the worst of the traffic, but heavy snow - deep enough to reach an adult’s thigh - had already fallen in mountainous areas of Gangwon province, including Daegwallyeong.

Thursday alone, 59 centimeters (23 inches) of snow fell on Yeongdong Highway in Daegwallyeong, and that figure climbed to 83.1 centimeters as of 2 p.m. yesterday. Sixteen snowplows were scattering 800 tons of salt and calcium chloride to keep the roads clear, but they couldn’t stop the snow from piling up.

Traffic jams stretched for 23 kilometers from Hoenggye to Gangneung in Gangwon Province, and it took drivers more than an hour to pass some roads.

“Drivers who travel roads that received heavy snow must have snow tires to ensure safety and keep the traffic flowing,” said Lee Hu-jin, an official at the Gangwon office of the Korea Expressway Corporation.

Gangwon province’s residents and public service workers had begun removing snow, and work was expected to continue today.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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고향 가는 길 날씨교통



설 연휴를 하루 앞둔 12일 한꺼번에 귀성객이 몰리면서 귀성길이 큰 혼잡을 빚었다. 올해 경기가 회복세를 보임에 따라 올 설에는 지난해보다 10%가량 많은 2546만여 명이 이동할 것으로 국토해양부는 예상했다.

하지만 설 연휴는 3일로, 지난해보다 하루가 짧아 교통량이 집중되면서 고속도로와 국도 곳곳에서 정체와 지체가 빚어졌다. 특히 대관령 등 강원도 영동 산간지역에는 폭설이 내려 도로가 얼어붙으면서 귀성객들이 차량 통행에 어려움을 겪었다.


12일 강원도 대관령과 강릉 지역에 이틀째 폭설이 내려 시민들이 큰 불편을 겪고 있다. 강릉 시내에서 한 시민이 차량에 쌓인 눈을 치우고 있다. [강릉=연합뉴스]


고속도로는 12일 오전 10시쯤부터 군데군데 정체가 시작됐다.

귀성길은 직장인들이 퇴근한 뒤인 오후 7시부터 본격적으로 극심한 정체 현상을 보여 길게 늘어선 차량 행렬은 새벽까지 이어졌다. 도로공사는 이날 하루 36만여 대가 서울을 빠져나간 것을 비롯해 전국적으로 370만여 대가 이동했다고 밝혔다.
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