The Korea Herald


Warm winter continues in Korea

By Ock Hyun-ju

Published : Jan. 7, 2020 - 15:38

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Unusually warm weather continued in South Korea on Tuesday, with the country not yet having witnessed the first freezing of the Han River and the record-low snowfall disrupting municipalities’ plans for winter events.

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Seoul had received 23 milliliters of rain as 3 p.m. on Tuesday alone, with more rain expected through Wednesday.

The daily low on the southern resort island of Jeju rose to an all-time high of 18.5 degrees Celsius, higher than the island’s 30-year January average of 14.8 degrees Celsius recorded between 1981 and 2010.

The nation’s southern coast also reported its highest daily low temperatures for January.

Gochang, North Jeolla Province, and Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, recorded their highest January daily lows of 10.3 and 7.1 degrees Celsius, respectively.

The average temperature in December nationwide stood at 2.8 degrees Celsius, the eighth-warmest temperature for the month since 1973, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. The temperature fell below minus 10 degrees Celsius only on two days.

The warm weather led Korea to record the lowest monthly snowfall on record last month. The greatest amount of snow to have accumulated over any 24-hour period was 0.3 centimeter, the lowest figure on record for December, according to the weather agency.

The first freezing of the Han River is later than usual, according to the weather agency. The first freezing of the river was observed Dec. 31 in 2018 and Dec. 15 in 2017.

The KMA declares the river to have “frozen” only when it confirms the presence of ice between the Han River Bridge’s second and fourth piers, a distance of about 100 meters. It usually freezes when subzero temperatures in Seoul continue for four to five days.

The warm weather is attributed to the weakened power since mid-December of a Siberian high-pressure system that sends cool air in a southerly direction. Warm, moist air also prevented cool air in the north from moving far enough south, according to the KMA.

The unusually warm weather is also becoming a headache for municipalities in Gangwon Province holding winter events as ice is melting. 
Municipal officials were dispatched to pull water out of the ice fishing venue for the annual 2020 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, which is set to open Jan. 11 for a 23-day run in Hwacheon. It was already delayed by one week due to unseasonably warm weather.

By Ock Hyun-ju (