No snow on ChristmasKANG CHAN-SU
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
A white Christmas won’t arrive this year. Except for some mountain areas, rain is forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Snow has become rarer in Seoul over the last decade. Not just in December. According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, an average of 25.1 centimeters (9.88 inches) of snow fell in the city from December to February between 1981 and 2010. From 2011 to 2018, the average snowfall depth was 22.4 centimeters. Over the last five years, the maximum amount of new snow stopped at 17.3 centimeters. Winter rainfall stayed similar from the average of 67.4 millimeters (2.65 inches) between 1981 and 2010 to 70.8 millimeters from 2011 to 2018 and 66 millimeters over the last five years.
The precipitation level has remained more or less unchanged, but snowfall has lessened due to the warmer climate. Weather experts say that ice can turn into rain after just one degree change in temperature. Global warming and the urban heat island effect increase temperatures in the winter and lessen snowfall. From 1981 to 2010, the average winter temperature was minus 0.5 degrees Celsius (31.3 degrees Fahrenheit). The winter of 2017 was colder, with the temperature averaging minus 2.5 degrees Celsius. That winter saw 23.8 centimeters of snow. In 2012, when the winter temperature averaged minus 2.9 degrees Celsius, the snowfall total was 53.7 centimeters.
Snow in the western region of the Korean Peninsula comes from the icy clouds carried by northern winds. The clouds dump snowflakes from the Hwanghae Provinces in North Korea and lose much of the crystalline water by the time they arrive in Seoul. The last time Seoul experienced a heavy snowfall of more than 10 centimeters was on Jan. 4, 2010, when it reached 25.8 centimeters. Snowfall has been at zero this winter. Although snow causes messy and icy roads in big cities, winter doesn’t feel the same without snow.
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