South Korea received more rain since Tuesday than D.C. has gotten all year. The result: Pummeling, explosives-filled landslides that have killed more than 50 people.
In what might be a first for many digesters of weather news, a consternating phenomenon best described as a "mineslide" has just occurred in South Korea.
According to varying estimates, Seoul has received between 17 and 26 inches of rain since Tuesday, an amount putting to shame the 18.4 inches of precipitation that D.C. has gotten since the beginning of 2011. The almost 12 inches of rain that dropped on Wednesday reset Korean records for one-day rainfall. The result has been raging floods and powerful mudslides that have killed more than 50 people, destroyed thousands of buildings and strolled away with some of the country's strategic ordnance. The L.A. Times' John Glionna reported from Seoul yesterday (which was actually today, in Korea):
Military officials scrambled to retrieve explosives swept away by the storm. In one incident, a military ammunitions depot collapsed under a landslide, and officials said only half of the explosives, including 93 land mines, had been found.
They also worked to retrieve numerous Korean War-era land mines that were dislodged by the storm from grounds near an air-defense unit outside Seoul. The officials warned residents that 10 of those mines remained missing.
Glionna then goes on to quote a military flack saying how they don't expect to find many of these errant mines. Perhaps in cases like this, when mines leave the nest you just have to respect their decision and let them be?
Oddly enough, the Korean meteorological agency doesn't have a lot to say about the cause of this rain, in English at least. (It does have a very cool English page devoted to local dust storms that can turn snow bloody red, which were called Woo-To in 174 A.D.: "At that time, the people believed that the God in the heaven became so angry that they lashed down dirt instead of rain or snow.") But The Hankyoreh delivers the meteorological dirt in this story on Korea's "perfect storm":
The monsoon season finished on July 17, but now Seoul has been hit by a deluge due to a strange distribution of air pressure.
The main cause of this downpour was unstable air in the skies above the central region of South Korea. Generally, warm, light air stays in the upper layer of the atmosphere and cold, heavy air in the lower layer. This time, however, warm air from a northern Pacific anticyclone flowed into the mid and lower layers, causing further instability. When this happens, heavy rain falls for a short period in specific areas. Because of this, new hourly precipitation records were set in several areas.
Want to see what those landslides look like? Follow the jump for an uneasy video taken from an apartment balcony of a brontosaurus-sized wall of muck overtaking a South Korean roadway.