Saturday, June 23, 2012

Drought sparks Korea

Korea is experiencing a drought, with Seoul seeing the least rainfall over the last 49 days since the Korean Meteorological Administration began compiling statistics in 1908.

In South Chungcheong, North Jeolla and Gyeonggi provinces, the unseasonably high temperatures are crippling farming, and it is uncertain whether the situation will improve.

A KMA official said southern areas will come under the influence of a seasonal rain front around June 23 and the central areas around June 27, but since pressure systems around the Korean Peninsula are very unstable it is not certain when the rainy season will really start.

The KMA predicted the country would see no rainfall soon except for Jeju, which is expected to be hit by a monsoon next Monday.

The KMA said Seoul had only 10.6 mm of rain from May 1 to June 18, a mere 6.2 percent of the 30-year average of 171 mm between 1982 and 2011 and the lowest in 105 years. Other areas including Suwon, Daejeon and Jeonju got 17-46 mm of rain over the same period, 11-28 percent of the average in previous years and a 45-year low. Average precipitation for the whole country was 58.8 mm, 36 percent of the 169.5 mm average in previous years.

Some 72 percent of the nation was rated as experiencing severe drought. The weather agency announces a four-level index on a daily basis taking into consideration factors like rainfall and humidity. The extreme dryness has wrought havoc with 3,686 ha of rice paddies and 4,667 ha of fields, leading to a 15-20 percent rise in agricultural produce prices in the past month.

Along with drought, a heat wave also affected the country.  The mercury in Seoul climbed to 33.5 degrees Celsius, a 12-year high for June.

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