Category: Weather

Typhoon Season

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By , September 14, 2012 4:38 pm

Last month we had two typhoons blow through Korea.  Neither was terribly bad for us here in Ulsan as we got the far eastern edge of the storm. Even down on the coast where I teach a couple of classes at the refinery and shipyard things weren’t very exciting.

This month, things may be different. They’re calling it a “Super Typhoon” and is a category4/5 now and heading directly toward us.  Forecasters expect it to be cat 3 by then, but it should be a bit windier and rainier than we had in August.  A forecast from the weather underground has some detail.  We should be getting the leading edge of the storm hit by Sunday evening with Monday being the worst of it.

I was hoping to get out and do some rock climbing this weekend, but we’re getting rain blow in from China. 2nd weekend in a row to be rainy while weekdays are mostly clear.  Last fall, we had six in a row, so I’m hoping this isn’t a repeat.  Typically, Fall is the best weather in Korea and has clear sunny days and cool nights but it’s not all good is it only manifests itself like that during the week.

In Between Classes

One of my current teaching jobs is at S-Oil, a large refinery near the city. I conduct one-on-one classes with a few of the VP-level execs.   And executives are busy guys. Sometimes they need to move their schedule around. I do my best to accommodate them but sometimes that means some down time between classes.  This week I was out at the refinery and had finished one class and was waiting to start another. I decided to park the car near the sea and watch one of the big tankers come in.

Not sure if this one is filling up rather than dropping off as the paint scheme seems to put this water line pretty high on the side of this ship. Oil is lighter than water.  Who knows. S-Oil does about 60% of their business in exports of refined petrochemical products.

It was kind of fun to watch the ballet of the small tug catching the mooring lines from the ship, taking them over to the pier and watching them tie up. It took almost an hour to get the ship in place and tied up and then the tugs all moved off to another part of the port.  I usually bring my eBook reader for periods of downtime, but this was a nice change of scenery. This ship, the “Ocean Cosmos” is a medium size Singapore  tanker and is about 50k tons.  Based on the condition of the paint job, this ship has seen a few days in service.

Blistering Cold

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By , January 20, 2011 9:50 am

OK, so maybe not blistering. But 30+ years in balmy Texas winters makes one’s blood thin. Here in Ulsan we’re experiencing the coldest winter in 44 years. Before this year, winter was more consistently colder than Texas winters, but rarely more than a few degrees under 32.  In fact, there was a saying among Koreans here that the typical winter pattern was 3 days warm, 4 days cold (warm being just mostly above freezing). Not this year. It’s been well under 32 and things are frozen.

How cold and frozen?

  • We had a good snow on January 3rd. There’s still snow and ice on the ground from that day, 2.5 weeks later.  It’s always been either a no-snow winter or if it did snow it was gone in a day or so. We haven’t had enough daylight above freezing in that time to melt it off.
  • The water pipes in MyeongHee’s hair shop are frozen and have been so for 3 days. She can do haircuts, but no perms or straightening that requires washing/rinsing. Not a big concern as business drops off for her anyway when its very cold. But still a pain in ass – she cooks her own lunch there, so no dishwashing, either.
  • Korea has begun energy consumption cutbacks because of the power surge in heating costs. Some of the subways in Seoul have been cut back on runs and they have mandated large buildings to be no more than 20 deg C. (68F)

I’m hoping this cold spell leaves soon, but usually February is the coldest month of the year. We’ll see what that has in store for us.

Fabulous Fall Weekend Weather

By , November 7, 2010 10:27 pm

This weekend the weather was outstanding. We took advantage and visited the arboretum, which prior to this weekend we didn’t even know existed. A friend of mine, Aaron, put together a small get-together at the place and we just followed the map. Turns out the Arboretum is a finely hidden gem tucked into the hills around just off the coast.  The people running it are very friendly and were quite happy to let people touch, pet and even hold the animals.

I turned into a snake handler

The Arboretum is more than just trees and plants, although those are there in abundance. The have a small zoo with a bird area you can walk through (and get pooped on) a reptile area and a small section of rodents such as hamsters, guinea pigs and mice which serve as lunch for the reptiles. In the above picture, I held a medium size Burmese Python.  I’m not a big snake fan, but this one was kind of pretty and the caretaker just handed him over to me.  MyeongHee wouldn’t have anything to do with the snakes – or with me once I’d handled it. She’s got a phobia of snakes. She ran around the corner and I had to get Aaron to takes pictures of me with my camera.

This snake was really calm

Aaron tries on the python while the much much bigger one still sits in the pen behind him. Although its hard to see in this picture, the one behind is as big around as my calf.

Myeonghee was happy with the bird they let her hold. But even that didn’t last long. She held this little thing for a minute and then passed it off to the kid just behind her.

We brought both dogs and initially put them on leashes. They don’t get out to much free and open space much – other than the park across the street – so they were pulling hard to explore. We let them off and let them run around and they loved it. They’re both crashed on the sofa now from so much running today.

Me and my pups. Satang is on the left and Sparky is on the right

MyeongHee held the dogs, too, but they would not hold still and all the pictures are of her not smiling but scowling at the dogs

I cannot resist a waterfall. The fish in this small pond were Jaws size koi.

MyeongHee is a sheep, according to the Asian zodiac. They had statues of all 12. I am a rat and can do without having my picture next to my rat. But the red maples make a nice background

Inside the greenhouse, the tropical plants formed a canopy over us

Aarons son Jamon had lots of fun holding Sparkys leash. Not sure who was leading who really

We only stayed at the arboretum for a couple of hours. Although it was really pretty, it was relatively small – perhaps a mere 10 acres. We left the group and took the dogs to Ulsan Grand Park and let them run a bit more. We had a ball in the car so we went into the overly crowded park. Satang chased the ball while Spark chased SaTang and both dogs drew a crowd of onlookers.  SaTang seems to sense the roar of the crowd and puts on a good show of running and jumping.

Only one of eight paws are on the ground in this high speed action and that one of Sparkys is just barely touching

We played at the park until sunset and then it got cool. We think there aren’t too many more weekends of this caliber before winter sets in here. It’s never terribly cold, but it is more consistently cold than Texas.  We enjoyed the day outdoors and we might have to look back on this one for a nice bit of weather until spring comes next year.

This week I start a new part time job. I scored a corporate gig at Samsung Fine Chemicals out near the petrochemical section of town. A group of 15-20 engineers  wants to improve their English as well as learn the western ways of rapport building since they do quite a bit of travel to other places.  It’s only one hour a day and only three times per week but its about $70 per hour. That should add a decent bit of beer money to my budget. I teach from 11:30am to 12:30pm, which gives me just enough time to scurry back to the west end of town, take the dogs out for a quick pee and poop and then off to school for another seven hours of teaching munchkins.

This weekend, by the way, marks four months from the end of my contract at the school. Unless I get a job at the university, which Aaron says he’ll try and help with, I’ll be back in Texas in four months. I need to get out my countdown script and polish it off and put it in the sidebar of this website.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Cheers and hope everyone is well.

Only One Typhoon per Week, Please

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By , September 6, 2010 11:00 am

And so far, that’s holding true. We had one last week that skirted our city and mostly hit central Korea and Seoul. This week, we’ve got another one that looks like it might get the heaviest portion closer to us.  I like the check the progress on a weather web page.  This one shows it nearly upon us (we’re just north and east of Busan on this map) as I write. But if one clicks  on the “weather in motion” on the bottom of the map the future trend may be discerned. The winds blowing east off the Asian mainland typically roar across our peninsula, dragging any northward moving typhoon with it. Japan usually gets more of these than we do.  We’re still a few hours from the main porting making landfall, so we’re not sure if we’ll get it.  In the meanwhile, just light rain and lots of humidity.

Always looking for ways to make a buck, we’re taking our lead (maybe only) position as the best English website in Ulsan to new areas. We’re sponsoring/hosting a TESOL course next month. I used my contacts at the University of Ulsan (a former UNT grad is the English Dept. Chairman) to secure a nice room for a two-day course. For our efforts in advertising and hosting the class, we’ll make 10-15% of the proceeds.  That could be a few thousand bucks for a creating a few ad pages and links.  Since we have the eyeballs of nearly every English-speaking person in the city looking at our site, it’s not hard to get some interest in things we promote. I just created the ads on Wednesday last week and by Sunday already have 10 people signed up. At close to $700 for the class, that’s a pretty good start.  Four more weeks to advertise and we should have a full course.

Spring – Finally

By , April 8, 2010 3:41 am

After what has seemed like a very long winter, Spring has finally decided to make its way here to the Korean Peninsula. And in short order. We only got a few dustings of snow this year, but most people here say it was the most since 2004/2005, the first year I came here. And indeed we had a couple of large snowstorms then, dropping 3-5 inches each time. This year, while no large snow storms hit, it has instead been one long cold front, interrupted only briefly by chilly rains.

Despite the lack of large snowstorms, it’s been chilly for months, near freezing each morning when I woke up and only getting reasonable during the afternoon. Just reasonable. One still needed a jacket even in the warmest part of the day, and while riding my bike I was still wearing heavy gloves and wool socks.

All that was just until this week. With the advent of April, spring has come to Korea, and it seems the plants were only waiting for a few days of warmth to burst forth from their wintery sleep. And burst forth they have. From what was just last week a bleak, grey ride along the river has now been turned into an explosion of pinks, whites and greens.

Just across the street from my apartment are a couple of cherry trees and magnolias. While they are pretty, they’re just a single instance of the multitude of blooms around the city. I don’t have the artistic ability to capture with my camera the glory of miles of river front park lined in delicate pink cherry blossoms and green bamboo, dappled with white magnolia.  You’ll have to take my word for it.  Entire playgrounds  nearly hidden and surrounded by armies of pink blossoms, swarm with young mothers whose colorfully clothed children were too small to walk the last time it was warm enough to play outside. Hillsides that were green in spots only from the evergreen trees are now carpeted in bright green new leaves.

I enjoy the spring, for there are phases of beauty here in Korea, each with it’s own grandeur. While the cherry blossoms rule this week and perhaps next, they’ll soon fall off, creating a blizzard of pink snowflakes and later, lush carpets of petals that have been gently pushed by the wind into drifts. Shortly thereafter, the azaleas will bloom, creating their own rivers of bright reds, pinks and purples along the thoroughfares.

If I can’t go to the Gobi Desert, It Will Come Here

By , March 21, 2010 3:13 am

Count on it. Every spring, like clock work the Gobi Desert pays a visit to South Korea. This weekend it’s pretty gnarly.  A big-ass storm started heading this way earlier this week. Beijing, China is in the path and they got the brunt of the sand. The bad news, however, is that the further the stuff travels the smaller the particles are, which means when you inhale you get lots of pollutants and very fine sand that can cause serious respiratory problems.We’re nearly at the tail end of the land masses, except for Japan, so we get the smallest particles and the most pollutants picked up by the drifting sand. A lot of my friends are sick with scratchy throats and coughs. I’m trying to stay indoors. Here’s a couple of charts I stole from the Korean weather folks.

Above is the dust storm map as of Sunday, March 21. That gives one an idea of the size of the crap coming this way. But a better indicator is the particle counter. They usually close the schools at 400ppm.  At 800ppm they warn people to stay indoors. We were quite a bit higher than that last night. The various lines are for each of the 20 or stations around Korea collecting samples

Things are a little clearer this morning as I write this, but I believe it’s just a clear spot while more is on the way. In the meanwhile, no exercising outdoors. If I go out, I’ll wear a mask.  Maybe a respirator.  Screw it – maybe an Iron Lung.

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