North Korea gripped by longest cold snap in decades

Seoul, Feb 2 (Yonhap) The longest cold spell in sixdecades has hit North Korea, a report said, allowing people towalk across the frozen river in Pyongyang while causingfarmers to worry about their crop production this year.

Frozen along with the landmark Taedong River were portson the west coast close to the capital, said the Chosun Sinbo,a pro-North Korean newspaper that has correspondents in thecommunist country but is published in Japan.

The temperature in North Korea stayed below the freezingpoint for 40 consecutive days this winter, a phenomenon onlysurpassed by a 62-day streak in 1945, the paper said, citing aNorth Korean meteorologist.

"Even last year''s winter, which had already been colderthan before, did not freeze the Taedong River thiscompletely," the Chosun Sinbo said yesterday. "People are nowwalking across the Taedong river in the heart of the city."

The chill has frozen soil up to 42 centimeters below, 10cm deeper than last year, the paper said. The freeze may causea delay in the plowing season, making farming more difficultalthough it does have the benefit of freezing harmful insectsto death, it said.

"At present, a wave of phone calls are being made byworkers in the fields of agriculture and city construction" tothe local weather agency with concerns, the paper said.

South Korea also suffered a prolonged cold spell thisyear with temperatures even in the usually warmer southernregions dropping to their lowest levels in decades. Heavysnowfall and high waves also disrupted ground and sea trafficin those regions.

Ryu Ki-yeol, the North Korean scientist cited by theChosun Sinbo, cited a difference in pressure at the highestlatitudes known as the Artic Oscillation as the cause of theprolonged cold spell. (Yonhap)

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