Korea Must Prepare for Annual Extreme Weather

      August 10, 2022 13:15

      At least nine people were killed and six went missing after two days of record downpours in the Seoul metropolitan region, and southern parts of the capital suffered billions of won in flood damage as homes and cars were submerged. The amount of rain that fell on Dongjak District on Monday was equivalent to the total volume of precipitation it normally sees in the entire month. There have been only three times when more than 300 mm of rain fell on the capital in a single day. During torrential downpours in Seoul and Chuncheon back in 2011 that took the lives of 50 people, 301 mm of rain fell in a day.
      The Seoul Metropolitan Government bolstered protection against natural disasters after torrential downpours in 2011 led to a devastating landslide on Mt. Woomyeon. The city government spent W1.4 trillion since 2015 to refurbish drainage systems, water pumps and rainwater collection reservoirs in southern Seoul (US$1=W1,305). But they were designed to deal with 80-85 mm of rainfall an hour and the unprecedented deluge this week paralyzed even them. Some accuse former Seoul mayor Park Won-soon of cutting the budget to expand drainage system. If the project had proceeded as planned, southern Seoul would have been able to deal with up to 100 mm of rainfall an hour.
      Freak weather conditions are increasingly becoming the norm around the world. The latest floods show just how vulnerable disaster-prevention systems built just a decade years ago can become. Trillions of won will be needed to upgrade drainage systems to deal with increasing amounts of rainfall, but the government and lawmakers must act urgently.
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