The Korean Peninsula experienced freak weather this year, resulting in a series of new meteorological records. According to a report Sunday by the Korea Meteorological Administration, the unusual weather began with heavy snow in central Korea on Jan. 4, when Seoul saw 25.8 cm of snow, the most since observation started in 1937.
From March through May, the nation suffered 34.7 rainy days, 9.9 more than the average since 1973. That also meant the fewest hours of sunshine at only 77 percent of the average and the coldest average temperature at 9.9 degrees Celsius in April, resulting in harm to agriculture.
But the summer was the hottest since 1973, with the average nationwide low at 21.1 degrees, 1.5 degrees higher than in an average year. And there were 12.4 of the so-called tropical nights, when temperatures stay above 25 degrees, 2.5 times the average since records began in 2000. It was also unusual that three typhoons affected the country in just a month from early August, including Kompasu which hit the metropolitan area.
The fall was no exception. On Sept. 21, the first day of the Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving holidays, 259.5 mm of rain gushed down on Seoul, the second most since data compiling started in 1908. Seoul also experienced the season's severest sandstorms on Nov. 11, with a massive 1,191 micrograms of dust per cubic meter.
Christmas Eve was bitterly cold, with Seoul’s morning low plummeting to -15.1 degrees, the lowest for the month since -16.2 degrees on Dec. 29, 1980.
The KMA said the freak weather is attributable to a mixture of climate change and phenomena like El Nino and La Nina that cause small-scale climatic changes across the world. Korea is likely to experience more unusual weather next year, it added.
But there were good sides as well. Heavier rain meant dams hold 10 to 20 percent more water than in previous years, meaning better preparation for the next spring drought. The number of forest fires and the area they devastated in spring was also significantly smaller than in an average year.