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Climate Change? Unseasonal Snowfall Hits South Korea’s Mountain Regions

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On the 15th, an unseasonal heavy snowfall warning was issued for the mountainous regions in northern Gangwon.

According to the Gangwon Regional Meteorological Administration, from 7 pm to 10 pm on the May 15, 2.8 inches of snow piled up on Hyangnobong Peak. There were 2.8 inches of snow around the Jungcheongbong of Seoraksan, and 3.9 inches of snow fell at the Socheong Shelter.

The heavy snowfall warning took effect around 7:20 pm. The Ministry of Public Administration and Security sent disaster text messages to some residents in Sokcho, Inje, Goseong, Yangyang, and Yanggu, classified as northern mountains, asking them to participate in snow removal, refrain from driving, and use public transportation when commuting.

Many residents were surprised when a heavy snowfall warning was issued in mid-May. Several residents even asked media outlets to confirm whether it was a misdirection.

Local residents expressed doubt about the meteorological agency’s announcement, saying, “The disaster text message came strangely” and “Does a heavy snowfall warning in May make sense?”

The Seoraksan National Park Office partially controlled the trails from the time the heavy snowfall warning was issued to ensure the safety of visitors. This was a measure to prevent accidents while climbing the mountain.

The meteorological agency explained that this heavy snowfall was due to cold air flowing in from the north and atmospheric instability. The meteorological agency forecasted that 0.4 to 2 inches of snow would fall in the mountains until the 16th and that more than 2.8 inches of snow would pile up in the northern mountains more than 3,280 feet above sea level.

The heavy snowfall warning for the northern mountains of Gangwon is the second special snowfall warning to be issued in May since meteorological observations began. In 2001, a heavy snowfall warning was issued in Gangwon for the first time in May.

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