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Authorities on alert as heavy snowfall set to hit Korea

Authorities inspect snow-removal vehicles ahead of heavy snowfall forecasted to hit on Sunday evening. (Yonhap)
Authorities inspect snow-removal vehicles ahead of heavy snowfall forecasted to hit on Sunday evening. (Yonhap)

Disaster safety authorities were on heightened alert on Sunday as heavy snowfall was forecast to hit South Korea on Sunday evening and throughout the night, raising alarms over potential traffic disturbances around morning rush hour the next day.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said the western part of the greater Seoul area and the west coast line of the South Chungcheong Province will begin to see snowfall at around 3 p.m.

The flurry will then gradually move east to affect the country's inland areas. By Monday morning, most parts of the country, including Gangwon Province, North Jeolla Province and part of South Jeolla and South Gyeongsang provinces, will see heavy snowfall, the weather agency said. 

The agency also warned that it would lead to a snowstorm heavier than the two bouts of snow bursts in the country earlier this month.

Gangwon Province and the eastern part of Gyeonggi Province could experience up to 10 centimeters of snow while Seoul and surrounding areas, South Chungcheong Province and North Jeolla Province may see snow of up to 7 cm, according to the agency.

As of Sunday morning, the weather agency maintained precautionary advisories against heavy snow for many parts of the country, including the overall Seoul region and surrounding areas. 

Weather authorities also warned of a potential traffic disturbance during the morning rush hour Monday, calling for precaution. 

The agency added that the country is likely to experience another flurry the following weekend, with unusually frequent snowstorms hitting the nation this winter.

As measures to deal with heavy snow, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters raised the government's emergency response alert to level 2, up one notch from the level 1 issued earlier in the day.

Interior Minister Jeon Hae-cheol asked emergency response workers to "thoroughly seek safety measures against concerns of traffic congestion and accidents from the heavy snow."

Jeon also requested traffic authorities to come up with plans to increase the number of buses and subways in the morning, and encourage public institutions and companies to adjust commuting hours.

The Seoul city government has dispatched 1,070 snow-removal vehicles throughout the capital and that it has preemptively sprayed snow-melting chemicals on steep roads.

The city also said that some 4,000 public service workers remained on standby on street corners to deal with the freezing of snow on roads and streets, and that it has asked the police to control the flow of traffic in 221 zones with high risk of traffic disturbances. (Yonhap)

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