Cold wave sweeps Korea, snow paralizes Jeju airport

PHOTO: The Korea Herald

South Korea on Sunday experienced the coldest weather this winter with temperatures dropping to near record lows.

As of 5 a.m., the temperature in Seoul was minus 17 degrees Celsius, while the wind chill was minus 23.8 degrees, according to weather officials.

If the mercury drops to below minus 18 degrees, it will be the coldest weather since Jan. 15, 2001, when the temperature reached minus 18.6 degrees, the Korea Meteorological Administration said.

On Saturday, the agency issued a cold wave warning for Seoul for the first time in five years. Such a warning is issued if the morning low drops at least 15 degrees from the previous day and at least 3 degrees compared with the average year, or if the temperature remains below minus 15 degrees for two or more days.

Other parts of the country, including Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, near Seoul, were also subject to the warnings.

The weather agency urged special precautions for health and facilities, saying strong winds could cause the temperature to feel colder.

On the southern resort island of Jeju, tens of thousands of travelers have been stranded since Saturday with runways closed due to heavy snow and cold weather.

The island's main airport has banned the use of its runways until noon Sunday. More than 180 flights have been cancelled for the day.

As of 6 a.m., more than 1,000 people roamed inside the airport as airport and local administration officials scrambled to help them find transportation back to the city and accommodation there.

Some travelers expressed frustration at certain airlines, saying they were not informed of the flight cancellations.

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