Typhoon-like strong winds battered most parts of South Korea on Thursday, causing disruption in the operation of outdoor coronavirus testing stations, fanning mountain fires.
Wind gusts of up to 90 kilometers per hour, or 25 meters per second, were forecast to continue into early Friday morning in most parts of the country, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.
The heavy winds result from the gap in air pressure between cold low pressure over North Korea and warm high pressure southeast of the peninsula, according to the weather agency.
Out of 637 testing facilities for the novel coronavirus in the country, 43 suspended their operations as of 2 p.m. Thursday, according to health authorities.
Most of the 1,163 drive-through testing tents, where suspected patients get tested for the virus while sitting in their car, also halted their operations Thursday, according to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.
strong wind advisory was issued for the entire country as of 9 a.m. and was upgraded to a warning at noon for most parts of the country including the capital, surrounding Gyeonggi Province, Incheon and Gangwon Province.
A strong wind warning is issued when the land wind speed is expected to reach 21 meters per second or the instantaneous maximum wind speed is forecast to top 26 meters per second.
It marks the first time that Seoul has come under a high-wind warning since the weather agency began to keep relevant records in 1999, it said.
A maximum wind speed of 32.5 meters per second was recorded in Seoraksan near the east coast, 32.1 in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, as of 2 p.m. Busan and Seoul logged per-second wind speeds of 35.6 meters and 17.6 meters per second, respectively.
It is “rare” that typhoon-like strong winds blow nationwide, but it happens usually once a year because Korea is situated where high pressure and low pressure meet, an official from the KMA said.
Damages were reported nationwide.
In Gyeonggi Province, at least three people were transferred to hospitals after being hit by pieces of plastic, glass window and construction structure, respectively, according to fire authorities.
A large election campaign structure fell off a building in Namyangju in the province, damaging eight vehicles parked on the street nearby.
In Gangwon Province, an 80-year-old man was knocked down by the roof of a house blown away by the winds.
Fires broke out in Seoul and Gangwon Province early in the morning, with the strong winds having made it harder for fire authorities to extinguish the flames.
The fire authorities were struggling to put out the fire that broke out at around 12:40 p.m. in a mountain in Wonju, Gangwon Province, as of press time.
Another fire was reported in forest in Wonju, Gangwon Province, around 7 a.m., damaging 7,000 square meters of forest. It was extinguished in two hours and caused no casualties.
Around 3:30 a.m., a fire broke out on Suraksan in Nowon-gu, burning about 660 square meters of forest. It was put out about five hours later, with no casualties reported. An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org