Cold wave hits South Korea causing heaviest snowfall

Extreme cold with heavy snowfall hit most of Korea over the Christmas weekend. Temperatures dropped to minus 25.4 degrees Celsius in some regions, and heavy snowfall led to the cancellation of flights.

Temperatures began dropping from Saturday afternoon and reached minus 16 degrees Celsius in the capital on Sunday morning, the coldest December temperature in nearly 41 years. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Seoul in December was minus 16.2 C on December 29, 1980.

The cold continued throughout the afternoon, and temperatures remained below minus 7 C in the afternoon.

According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, a cold snap warning was issued for most regions of Korea over the weekend.

A cold snap warning is issued when the daily low temperature is expected to drop 10 degrees or more to less than 3 C and be 3 degrees lower than the daily average. It can also be issued when morning lows are predicted to be below minus 12 C for two days or longer.

The CMA can also issue a cold wave warning if serious damage from rapidly falling temperatures is expected.

On Sunday morning temperatures in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, dropped to minus 25.4 C, the coldest recorded all winter. In Paju and Yeoncheon in Gyeonggi Province, temperatures also dropped to minus 20.7 C, dropping below minus 20 C for the first time this year.

Some areas of Korea were covered with heavy snowfall. As much as 55.9 centimeters of snow fell over the Christmas weekend in Gangwon Province on Saturday. In Hallasan on Jeju Island, up to 16.6 cm also fell.

The heavy snowfall caused the runway at Jeju International Airport to be closed for about an hour Sunday morning, leading to flight cancellations and long delays.

On Sunday, snowfall continued in western Korea and hit the provinces of North and South Jeolla. KMA predicts that the snowfall will continue until Monday.

As for the reasons for the extremely cold weather across the country, KMA explained that the high pressure formed in Russia weakened the jet stream, causing a high-altitude wave of cold air to enter the country from the northwest, with temperatures dropping to minus 40 degrees.

The KMA said temperatures are expected to gradually rise from Monday afternoon. Temperatures will return to normal on Tuesday, but the cold is expected to return from Friday and last through Saturday.

The weather agency warned people to stay warm, as a sharp drop in temperature could lead to a weakened immune system.

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