Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On Korean Weather; That which may never be understood.

A while back I started a series of rants about things that bug, frustrate, irritate, or just confuse me about Korea. In continuing with the series, today's topic by special request from Karen Benavidez will be Korean weather...cause she was the only one that voted! By the way, I think you will especially like this one Karen. It's got topographic maps and everything! 

First thing to know is that Korea's geographical location puts us in an interesting intersect of perplexing meteorological complexity. Observe;

To our North lies the craziness that is North Korea. A short distance further and you have China. Due West about 300 miles is also China. To our South is the East China Sea and Southeast about 200 miles away is Western Japan. Due East is the Sea of Japan and the rest of Japan itself. For those of you wondering, Fukushima is about 700 miles from us.

Now in Weatherology 101 you learn that the ocean currents have a major impact on weather patterns, especially in places surrounded by water. South Korea is a very good example of a place surrounded by water. This crazy and somewhat confusing map shows that the Korean Peninsula has two main currents; One cold one coming down from the Northeast Sea of Japan and one warm current coming up from the East China Sea and wrapping it's way along the southern coast of Japan.

This mixing of cold and warm currents can lead to some dramatic weather, but that's relatively predictable and fairly easy to understand. Heat rises, so warm air coming off the plains of China meets the cold air coming off the ocean current from the Sea of Japan creating a low preasure blah dee blah blah system that coaleblah blahs with the upper level blah blah making the monsoon season. I don't really understand it all but I get the gist. Warm air plus cold air = rain. Here's where I get frustrated;

I LOVE Texas weather. The winters are mild with the occasional and exciting snow flurry such as this past winter.

April showers take on a bolder form when they reach the panhandle and turn into some of the best lightning storms anywhere. Rainy weather the way it should be! 

The summers are blazing hot with stifling humidity that can only be alleviated by AC, water recreation and an over consumption of snowcones.

Then as the weather starts to turn cooler, MORE STORMS!!!

Here's how things go if you live in Korea;

Winter starts of damp and unpleasantly cold and quickly takes a turn towards bitter bonechill. When it starts snowing, it dumps and the days don't warm up more than a few degrees.

April showers don't exist cause it's still too stinkin cold!

When it does finally start to warm up you have a few weeks of blissful days when the sun is shining and the air is cool and dry and life is good. The frogs come out and serenade you, letting you know they are hard at work cutting down the front lines of the mosquito swarms to come.

Then the air starts getting sticky. It's subtle and sneaky but little things show the shift. The laundry takes a bit longer to dry than usual. The breeze feels less refreshing and the sky starts turning that painful overcast grey that seems bright, but not in the cathartic way a blue sky is.

Then Ajima Nature starts to taunt. you get a brief but satisfying storm that roles through with a short lived but brilliant lightning show and some deep, boisterous thunder rolls that go echoing off the mountains. Then come the days of confusion.

The sky gets darker and more foreboding. The clouds grow fat and dark and in between classes walking outside you think you hear a low rumble in the distance. Your heart picks up pace a bit in anxious anticipation of another good tumble. But the day goes on and the clouds role on through and disappointment sets in as the daylight fades. And you, coming from Texas were the sky builds up and follows through with it's tantalizing ominousness, you just don't understand why it doesn't happen. It looked so close yesterday. And the day before that looked even more promising and eventually you learn to not get excited when the sky changes and the big clouds role in. You  become jaded to the things that used to excite you so much back home. You start to forget what a good storm feels like anymore and the smell of rain has lost its nostalgia and the days of tornado drills and golf ball sized hail are all but a fleeting memory in the back of your mind.
Then, when you've all but forgotten about it, one incredible crash shakes the foundation of the house and of your soul but you've only caught the tail end of it because it's 4 in the morning and you were sound asleep.
So you wake up with the kind of excitement saved for kids on Christmas morning and you think the sky is finally going to rip open and let loose the wrath of Gods and you wait, with baited breath and desperation to see that blinding flash of light that fills the darkness with brilliant neon...and you wait.....and you wait.....and eventually you remember that you aren't in Texas anymore....and Ajima Nature cackles at your dissatisfaction. And the adrenaline fades...and your heart stops racing...and you turn your back to the window and pull the sheets a little tighter and figure you may as well have just imagined it. Just a couple more hours to sleep...perchance to dream of storms....storms nearly forgotten...


Peter and Leslie said...

Actually the weather you just described is exactly the weather that we've been having in Houston for the last several months- probably even longer. Lots of ominous looking clouds but no rain! The whole state is in a drought and there are wildfires raging. I am missing thunderstorms too. :o(

Anonymous said...

I never thought I would agree with this option.

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