Seoul’s Steamy Summer (Updated)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I’ve been away from Seoul for much of the summer, but now that I’m back it’s impossible not to hear all the complaining — among expats and locals alike — about the heat.

They have a point, at least in terms of their expectations. This summer has indeed been hotter than usual, especially this month, when the daily low temperature on one recent day actually exceeded the average high. (I updated the chart on Aug. 24).

Historically, the air begins cooling slightly in August. Not so this year…

You’ll notice that the definition of hot here is different than in, say, America’s Deep South. Spend a few summers in Houston, people. But, remember, residents here don’t have industrial strength (or cheap) central air conditioning, and many of them spend a lot of time on public transportation. It gets pretty steamy.

I suspect the heat wave is due, in part, to the relatively dry summer. Typically, Seoul gets more than 15 inches of rain in August. Again, that’s not the case this year. Unfortunately, Weather Underground, the source for the temperature data above, doesn’t capture daily precipitation totals for Seoul so I can’t yet investigate further. I’m still looking for a source with historical data. Holler if you have one.

Thanks, by the way, to the news nerds at FiveThirtyEight. I modified their weather data scraper/parser to get the data in the chart.

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