Late-season snowfall snarls traffic
Belated winter snow spread across the nation and into Seoul yesterday and Tuesday, causing traffic congestion, canceled flights and inconvenience for residents all across the country.
Yesterday morning’s snow in Seoul, piling up to around 13.5 centimeters (5.3 inches), is the heaviest the city has seen during March in six years, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.
On March 17, 2004, Seoul saw 18.5 centimeters of snow.
The Yeongdong region of eastern Gangwon has been hit the hardest, seeing snow almost daily this month. As of 8 a.m. yesterday in Daegwall-yeong, Gangwon, the snow piling up over residual snow and ice from previous days had reached 108 centimeters.
The KMA said the belated snowstorm was caused by an imbalance between air temperatures in the upper and lower atmospheres.
“Over the Korean Peninsula, the cold air in the upper atmosphere and the warm air in the lower atmosphere collided, creating snow clouds,” said Kim Seung-bae, a forecaster for the KMA. The administration said that the recent spring-like air collided with currents of 30 to 40 degrees below zero Celsius (22 to 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) from the Siberian region, which spread through the upper atmosphere within five kilometers (3.1 miles) of the ground.
The late-night snow affected flights at Gimpo and Incheon airports yesterday. According to the Korea Airports Corporation, as of yesterday morning 15 domestic flights from Gimpo going to cities including Busan, Ulsan and Jeju, were canceled. Seventeen flights which were scheduled to land at Gimpo from other airports across the country were also canceled.
The corporation added that two flights from Incheon International Airport, including an Asiana flight and a United Airlines flight to Busan, were canceled yesterday morning.
The regions hit hardest by the weather were small towns across the nation, including Wangsan, Gangwon. Lee Sun-hwa, 54, who runs a bed and breakfast in the area, said, “I haven’t been outside for almost a month because of the snow and I feel like I might get depressed if this keeps up.” This winter, Lee saw only two customers at her establishment, but had to tell them both to leave because of the heavy snow.
Yesterday’s heavy snow closed 145 schools across all levels in North Gyeongsang, according to the province’s education office. In the southern part of North Chungcheong, 12 centimeters of snow fell, blocking bus routes in certain areas including in Hoenam and Sanoe.
“Unlike national and regional highways, smaller roads which do not have a lot of traffic are more slippery and dangerous,” said an official at Sinheungunsu, a bus company which operates vehicles in the nation’s agricultural regions.
Better weather is in sight. The KMA forecast that beginning this afternoon, temperatures around the country will rise slowly and recover to normal conditions for March by tomorrow. However, it added that the metropolitan region, including Seoul and Yeongdong, will see either rain or snow tomorrow.
By Cho Jae-eun, Lee Chan-ho [email@example.com]
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