Record Breaking Snowfall in Korea

THE KOREA HERALD: Heavy snow in Seoul causes traffic bedlam

Record snowfall blanketed the Seoul metropolitan area yesterday, causing traffic chaos on the first work day of the New Year and delaying or canceling scores of flights.

According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, the snow that began falling early in the morning piled up around the nation's central regions, with more than 25.2 centimeters accumulating in Seoul.

The snow in Seoul was the heaviest since the nation started recording snowfall back in 1937, the weather agency added.

"As a low pressure system from the West Sea approaches the nation, heavy snowfall starts. When the center of the system passes the southern part of Chungcheong Province, the central regions will see more snowfall, prompting heightened snow alerts in the regions," said a KMA official said.

Snowfall subsided in most parts of the metropolitan area late yesterday. However, more snow was expected in the areas facing the East Sea until this morning, the weather agency said.

Despite increased numbers of buses and subway trains, citizens experienced inconvenience during rush hour as public transportation was operated behind schedule and more crowded than usual.

Coupled with cold temperatures, major roads in Seoul were snow-covered and slippery, disrupting traffic all day.

Seoul City dispatched a total of 3,590 workers to clearing snow and poured 2,381 tons of salt on major roads.

However, work in most locations was hampered by continuing snowfall.

"Following the weather forecast, we have worked under an emergency system from early in the morning. We have mobilized half our staff for snow clearing work. In cooperation with the military, we plan to dispatch more staff and equipment," said a city official.

At Gimpo International Airport, on the outskirts of Seoul, all domestic flights and some international flights to Japan were cancelled in the morning. Workers had cleared the runways and the situation was returning to normal in the afternoon, the airport said.

No cancellations were reported at Incheon International Airport. The airport had 30 flights delayed due to de-icing work.

"We have no problems with takeoffs and landings thus far. However, as the highways leading to the airport are likely to be paralyzed by heavy snowfall, passengers are recommended to use airport trains rather than cars and buses," said an Incheon Airport official.


By Lee Ji-yoon