Preparing for the worstJust a day before Chuseok, the Seoul and Incheon regions were hit hard by floods from above. Due to record precipitation - a whopping 289 millimeters (11.4 inches) in some areas - many houses and roads were submerged in the blink of an eye. Some subway lines stopped running and many regions in the area experienced power outages.
It constituted a typical city flood, which occurs when water is not effectively drained through the sewage systems and backs up on the streets. As a result, tens of thousands of people in the Seoul and Incheon area couldn’t even dream of participating in memorial services for their ancestors, as they had to salvage whatever they could from their flooded homes.
We extend our deep consolation to those who had to struggle with such an unexpected turn of events on what is normally a joyous holiday.
The Korea Meteorological Administration called it the heaviest downpour in terms of the amount of rainfall per hour since the organization began collecting such data 100 years ago.
This characterization of the rainfall by the KMA ignores its inability to precisely predict the weather, as the agency failed to forecast such a torrential downpour.
In fact, the total amount of rainfall was roughly five times greater than the KMA’s original forecast of 40 to 60 millimeters.
Aberrant weather patterns are now common across the world as well as here in Korea. Seoul recorded its heaviest snowfall in the past 100 years last January. In April it was also hit by the coldest weather in a century. A sweltering heat wave swept across the country this summer, while an unprecedented amount of rain has already fallen to start autumn.
It appears extremes will become the new norm. With that in mind, we believe that the nation should develop a more accurate weather forecasting system. The same goes for our disaster prevention system.
Our current standards for weather-related safety systems are based on the “100 year cycle,” which revolves around the assumption that unusual weather of the magnitude we’ve seen this year only takes place every century.
But it’s clear we need to review this concept in light of today’s weather realities.
In order to prepare for severe natural disasters, we should apply tough new standards that will help the nation respond to weather calamities that occur on a more frequent basis.
Above all, we should build a generalized system to cope with various natural disasters, from their outbreak to restoration efforts. Humans cannot escape natural calamities, but we can prepare and respond to them wisely.