Historic cold wave and heavy snow hit South Korea

Historic cold wave and heavy snow hit South Korea

A cold snap has gripped South Korea, bringing more than 0.3 m (1 foot) of snow and prompting a cold warning in Seoul for the first time in 57 years on Thursday, January 7, 2021.

Heavy snowfall paralyzed roads in Seoul, leaving residents stranded in an hour.

"The snow suddenly came and hit so fast and hard," resident Dominic Phua told The Strait Times, adding that he saw a biker covered in snow, vehicles skidding, and two buses with a car stuck between them.

More than 0.3 m (1 foot) of snow fell in many areas, including mountainous regions on Jeju.

Cold wave alerts are in place everywhere, with a cold wave warning issued in the capital for the first time in 57 years. It was the first cold wave warning since the country introduced alert systems in 1964.

Subway trains experienced breakdowns, while some doors got stuck in the freezing cold. Prime Minister Chung Sye-Kyun issued an emergency order to speed up snow clearing. More than 8 000 vehicles and some 17 000 personnel were deployed to clear the snow. 

According to the Korea Meteorological Agency (KMA), Seoul plunged to -16.1 °C (3 °F) on Thursday morning, with a wind chill of -25.3 °C (-13.5 °F).

KMA said frigid temperatures were caused by cold air flowing down from Siberia.

Featured image credit: Laila Manack

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