Thursday, February 2, 2012

News-Cold weather in Seoul /Coldest February day in 50 years

<Nation shivers on coldest February day in 50 years>

Temperatures in Seoul and the northern part of the country fell to the lowest levels reported in February in over half a century Thursday, disrupting subway operation and pushing the power demand to a new record high.

Cold air moving south from the Arctic blanketed the Korean Peninsula for the second straight day, driving the morning low in the capital to minus 17.1 degrees Celsius with a wind chill of minus 23.7 degrees.

According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, it was the lowest February temperature reported since 1957.

Cheolwon in the mountainous province of Gangwon saw the mercury dipping to minus 24.6 degrees. Many other cities in Gangwon and Gyeonggi Provinces reported lows below minus 20 degrees.

“The cold weather is likely to let up from Friday afternoon, returning to the seasonal norm on Saturday,” a KMA official said, forecasting a morning low in Seoul at minus 13 degrees on Friday.

Services on subway line No. 1, linking the capital to satellite cities, were halted for nearly four hours, creating traffic chaos during the morning commuter rush.

A train stopped near Seoul Station at around 7:20 a.m. due to a suspected battery malfunction, and was derailed about an hour later while being pulled by another train, the Korea Railroad said. Operations resumed around noon.

The severe cold weather sent the country’s power demand soaring. The maximum electricity demand set two new records Thursday morning, rising to 73.31 million kilowatts around 10 a.m. and then to a new high of 73.8 million kilowatts at around 11 a.m.

Some 54 elementary schools in Seoul, taking up 9.1 percent of all primary schools in the city, were closed because of the cold spell, while another 140 shortened classes, the capital’s education board said.

Twenty-nine of them will be closed again Friday, while 144 will cut the day short by opening late and finishing early.

More than a hundred cases were reported of water meters freezing and breaking in the record cold weather in Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province.

By Lee Sun-young

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