SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The current cold wave hitting South Korea persisted on Friday (Jan 12), with lows of minus 15 deg C in Seoul and minus 20 deg C in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province as of 9am, and daytime high of minus 6 deg C in the capital city.
Very cold wind chills were expected in most parts of South Korea to range from minus 19.9 deg C in Incheon to minus 13.9 deg C in the southeastern port city of Busan in the morning.
In what has already been a much colder than normal stretch of weather since Thursday, Friday’s frigid conditions were also accompanied by heavy snowfall on some parts of the west coast, Jeju Island and the islands of Ulleungdo and Dokdo, the Korea Meteorological Administration.
Runways at Jeju Airport were closed earlier on Thursday due to heavy snowfall of around 30cm in some areas of the island. The closures led to 87 international and domestic flight cancellations and suspension of 29 flights until 11am, according to the Korea Airports Corp.
In North Jeolla Province, police said nearly 500 traffic accidents had occurred on slippery roads since Tuesday, when heavy snow began falling, while 35 accidents were reported related to falling in the same province over two days.
The country's power use soared in the morning amid a spike in heating demand, prompting Korea Power Exchange to order local companies to cut their power use in an effort to stabilise electricity reserves.
The cold weather is related to a large area of high pressure in upper levels of the atmosphere near Alaska, driving the cold Arctic air pool to the country, the weather agency said.
The coldest temperatures recorded this winter so far were on Dec 12 and Dec 13 last year (2017), when morning lows dropped to minus 18.8 deg C before climbing to around 3 deg C in the daytime.
Forecasters warned of frostbite and hypothermia risks, urging people to take necessary precautions when engaging in outside activities.
The extreme cold is expected to ease off on Sunday, the weather agency forecast.