August 13, 2018 11:07
Scorching temperatures in Korea are being exacerbated by a severe drought. The annual monsoon season was extremely short this year and the heat wave struck earlier than usual, while seasonal typhoons have so far veered clear of the country.
According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, the average rainfall from July 12 until Saturday stood at only 32.9 mm, compared to the 30-year average of 273 mm. That is the lowest in 46 years.
Trees are dying and the leaves are turning brown, with entire branches shriveled and cracked.
Lee Chang-seok at Seoul Women's University said, "Trees have withered even in the mountains, which have richer soil and hold more water underground, showing how severe the drought is."
Not only is there very little rainfall, but the scorching earth is resulting in high levels of evaporation. According to Lee, 146.8 mm of water evaporated from the soil and plants in Seoul until July of this year, compared to the average of 111.3 mm for the month.
There are no signs of the drought ending any time soon. Typhoon Yagi, which was expected to bring much-needed rain to the Korean Peninsula, is heading for China instead. And typhoon Lipi, which formed near Guam on Saturday, is expected to dissipate before it reaches Korea, according to the KMA.
Daytime temperatures are expected to soar to 32 to 35 degrees Celsius until Aug. 22 with no cloud in sight.
People are suffering too. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of victims of heat-related illnesses reached 3,783 as of Friday, three times more than during the last big heat wave in 2016.
But unstable atmospheric conditions will result in heavy showers in some areas on Monday, resulting in a temporary drop in temperatures, before the mercury rises again.
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