Cold and snow

My wife and I have booked a month’s holiday in South Korea from the end of December to the end of January, long overdue from our original plan of September 2020. I have been keeping an eye on weather forecasts, but it’s really too far away to be sure of anything. One website gave a forecast of 66 mm of snow on New Year’s Day, revised the next day to 4.9 mm, then the day after that to sunny but cold. But we can be sure that it will be cold (especially in contrast to our (rather mild (so far)) summer in Sydney and that it will snow.

I’m reminded of two incidents involving cold and snow during my first stay in South Korea (2006-09), which I haven’t told here yet. Possibly during my first winter there, I left for work dressed in black shoes, black trousers, a black jacket, a black and brown scarf wrapped up to the bottom of my glasses and a black beanie, so all that was visible was my glasses. I got in the lift, it stopped several floors down and a young Korean woman got in. She took one look at me and stood as close as she could to the opposite corner. I moved as far as I could into my corner and tried to look non-threatening. We got to the ground floor, the door opened and I allowed her a good head start.

During my second winter, my hagwon owner/director asked me to teach a conversation class for TOEIC students. TOEIC notoriously focuses on grammar, reading and writing (and maybe prepared listening and speaking), but leaves students under-skilled in actual conversation. One day it snowed, so I asked the students if they liked snow. 

One student: (very long pause) … No …
Me: I don’t like snow because … why don’t you like snow?
Student: (very long pause) … Military …
Me: I don’t like snow because when I was in the military … what did you do?
Student: (very long pause) … Shovel …
Me: I don’t like snow because when I was in the military, I had to shovel snow.

That’s not much conversation, but an awful lot of communication.


No more unweder

For the last six days, the east coast of Australia has received very heavy rain, up to the average total for March each day in some places. Some parts have been flooded and more are waiting on rising river levels. Yesterday evening my wife asked me if there would be “more rain” today. Well, yes, in the sense of additional rain, but no, in the sense of a greater quantity of rain. Today was least wet day of the six; indeed it stopped raining, the clouds mostly dispersed and we got a few hours of mostly blue sky and sun. The entire night sky is now clear, and tomorrow’s temperature is predicted to be warmer than an average summer’s day.

Yesterday I mentioned an Anglo-Saxon word list. One of the words is unweder, extreme and unseasonal weather, which might be some comment about the weder in Angle-land. But a friend who moved from England to Australia commented on Facebook that Sydney actually gets more rain than London, which I had to check. Yes, Sydney 1,147.1mm/45.16in per year from 95 rainy days, and London 601.7mm/23.68in per year from 109 rainy days. So in Sydney, when it rains, it pours. Temperature (average and extreme) and hours of sunshine are other factors. I also suspect that London’s rainfall doesn’t change much from year to year, while Sydney’s does. Note that Sydney is at 33 degrees south, and London is at 51 degrees north


When I press the button at the bottom of my mobile phone, the first screen has the time and date at the top and the instruction ‘Swipe screen to unlock’ at the bottom. In the middle are various bits of information, including notifications of missed calls or voice messages, and news from Google. Earlier today, the new was “New LPA to boost rains from habagat”. I have no idea what that means and equally no idea why Google would think I was interested. Some research was necessary.

Searching Google found the article on, the headline of which had one extra, even more baffling word “New LPA to boost rains from habagat, ‘Falcon’”. The first paragraph makes almost everything clear:

MANILA, Philippines — A new low pressure area west of the Philippines will further enhance the southwest monsoon and Tropical Storm “Falcon” (international name: Danas).

So an LPA is a low pressure area (is this really commonly used in Filipino news headlines?), a/the/- habagat is the south-west monsoon (“characterized by hot and humid weather, frequent heavy rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the west” and lasting May/June to Nov/Dec – Wikipedia), and “Falcon” is an officially named tropical storm. (For the rest of the year, the prevailing weather is the amihan – “moderate temperatures, little or no rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the east”.)

What it doesn’t make clear is why Google thinks I would be interested.

PS I can imagine an Australian news source using “low” and “high” in a headline, but not LPA or HPA.

Typhoon Soulik

For the past few days Korea has been battered by a typhoon, though fortunately the damage seems to have been contained.

I looked at the Korea Herald website for information. I noticed that the story contained information which seemed to be superfluous, for example, “Daejeon, South Chungcheong Province, about 140 kilometers south of Seoul” and “The southern port city of Busan”, as well as “Busan, some 450 km southeast of Seoul” in a photo caption.

Given that the Herald’s readership is predominantly a) Koreans who want to practice their English, b) English-speaking people in Korea, and c) English-speaking people elsewhere who are interested in Korea and have gone to the Herald instead of any other news site, I would have thought that the Herald’s readership would probably know where Busan is and possibly know where Daejeon is. 

On the side of the page was a list of the top 10 recent stories. Among a number of typhoon-related stories, was: “Filipino-Indian couple caught stealing plastic bins from kimchi factory.”