Drought to end with pre-monsoon rains today

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Drought to end with pre-monsoon rains today

In a country facing the worst drought in decades, a ray of hope broke through Friday when the Korean weather authority predicted nationwide rainfall on Saturday, and said the monsoon season will likely kick off next Wednesday from the southern tip of Jeju Island.

The day-long rainfall Saturday will begin in the northern parts of Gyeonggi in the morning and spread through most of Korea except Jeju Island by daytime, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said. It will taper off from the country’s western regions starting Saturday night.

Five to 40 millimeters (0.2-1.6 inches) of rain is expected to fall on Saturday alone, with the eastern part of Gangwon getting the least amount due to wind.

The monsoonal front will pour rain on Jeju Island and the southern coast from Wednesday to Friday, and again probably on June 29, according to the KMA. The southern regions will see heavy rainfall from Wednesday to Friday as well, whereas the central part will be hit on Thursday.

Seoul, Gyeonggi and the western part of Gangwon will possibly come into contact with the monsoonal front on Thursday, but precipitation will be weak.

With the annual monsoon already expected to arrive later than the usual mid-June this summer, local meteorologists are now watching the actual amounts of rainfall as worries over the protracted drought keep mounting.

The extreme dryness has hit the central and eastern coastal regions particularly hard, and reservoirs at Songyang and Chungju Dams that channel water into the Han River have already dried up. Rice paddies and fields for other crops in Gyeonggi and northern Gangwon have dried out due to the shortage.

Total precipitation this year has been the lowest since rainfall began to be measured in 1973.

BY KANG CHAN-SU, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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