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Cold Temperatures Are Not All Bad News: 3 Reasons to Be Thankful for Frigid Weather
Published: February 1, 2018
The colder-than-average temperatures that have endured this winter across much of the central and eastern U.S. might make it seem as if there's nothing good about this weather pattern.
(MORE: Winter Storm Central)
In reality, cold weather can be great for several reasons. Below, we give three reasons why the very chilly conditions are beneficial to those of us who have endured the sting of winter.
1. Fewer Bugs and Snakes
Several types of bugs and other critters do not like very cold temperatures and typically thrive in warm conditions. A mild winter can lead to an increase in bugs, while a colder-than-average winter has the potential to result in fewer bugs.
Mosquitoes are one of the insects that could be affected, although many types of the insect have some adaption to the cold weather.
Susan Paskewitz, the chair of the Department of Entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Popular Science that cold is a limiting factor for the Asian tiger mosquito, which can carry the Zika virus.
(United States Department of Agriculture)
The lone star tick is another pest that doesn't tolerate very cold conditions, Paskewitz also noted.
Most bugs, however, will not be severely impacted by the cold temperatures experienced so far this winter. Many bugs, including mosquitoes and ticks, try to find warm areas for the winter, and a layer of snow can act as insulation. The best weather to reduce many bugs would be a prolonged period of very cold temperatures with little to no snow.
Cockroaches, for example, survive the cold temperatures associated with winter by finding a warm place inside. However, even "temperatures below 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species of roach, may kill them. Also, in cooler temperatures, roaches slow their breeding cycle or may even stop breeding altogether," according to Sciencing.com. This is especially the case when very cold temperatures occur over a prolonged period.
Snakes can also be adversely affected by cold temperatures since they cannot generate their own body heat. As a result, snakes are less active when it is cold. This is called brumation, which refers to the hibernation-like state that many reptiles undergo during very cold weather.
A period of unusually cold temperatures can result in death to some species of snakes, but the temperature varies depending on the species.
2. Extended Cold Weather Is Needed For Some Crops
While freezing temperatures at the wrong time can be disastrous for most crops, an extended period of cold temperatures is necessary for others.
Cold weather triggers dormancy in some crops, like peaches and blueberries, and it's needed to produce a good crop.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said there have been more chill hours – the time spent below 45 degrees – in December and early January this season than either of the past two winters. In addition, freezing temperatures kill many pests that prey on plants and trees, Bryan Tolar, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, told the AJC.
This is also true for crops such as corn. Dr. Juliet Carroll, Cornell University Fruit Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, told Grist that many damaging insects and pathogens can be eliminated if winter temperatures are cold enough.
3. Good Conditions For Ski Resorts
Temperatures below freezing are beneficial for ski resorts so they can make snow when the weather does not provide it naturally. Mild winters can be devastating for ski areas that are unable to make snow, or when rain ruins trail conditions.
However, it can be too cold. If the combination of temperature and wind make it too cold for skiers to be comfortable, it'll reduce visits to the ski areas.
Numerous ski resorts, including Sugarbush and Bolton Valley Ski Area, told the Burlington Free Press in early January that they had plenty of snow, but skiers were missing due to the bitterly cold temperatures.
(MORE: February Temperature Outlook)
Temperatures warmed in mid-January, with many days above freezing in the Northeast, but additional rounds of colder weather returned at the end the month.
For example, Burlington, Vermont, saw a high of 61 degrees along with an inch of rain on Jan. 12 – the opposite of what ski resorts hope for. Since then, multiple rounds of cold temperatures have returned, and this trend is expected to continue into February, which is good news for skiers.
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.