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Thoughts on the cold weather

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Unless you have been in a coma or living in a box with no electricity or phone over the past few days, you are well aware our nation experienced some mighty cold temperatures recently.

While it was cold enough around here for most of us, certain parts of the Midwest got down to 50 degrees below zero during the cold snap and using the wind chill factor, which Weather Channel tends to do whenever given the chance, some places got down to 66 degrees below zero.

“Bone-chilling,” “historic,” “dangerous, “polar vortex” and “coldest arctic outbreak in at least two decades” were some of the more popular terms tossed around by Jim Cantore and friends at the Weather Channel.

I heard one reporter, or maybe it was a meteorologist, refer to the Weather Channel as the “Bible of weather forecasting.”

During the thick of the really cold weather, the Weather Channel ran a segment called “Why cold weather is good for you,” which listed several good reasons I found interesting.

The story said various types of bugs like mosquitoes, ticks, cockroaches and a few others do not like very cold temperatures, resulting in fewer of them.

The same goes for certain breeds of snakes that are “adversely affected by cold temperatures since they cannot generate their own body heat and thus are less active when it is cold.”

Susan Paskewitz, an entomologist (bug professor) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said “cold is a limiting factor for the Asian tiger mosquito, which can carry the Zika virus.”

Other reasons cold is a good thing include at ski resorts where snow is obviously good for business, and although I did not realize it “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 is needed to produce a good crop.”

Here are a few other reasons I came up with either on my own or by going online telling why cold weather can be a good thing.

• Cold weather provides people a setting to show how the phenomenon known as “global cooling” could become a potential problem and a major concern in the coming years.

• Schoolchildren get to stay home and play or watch TV while adults can sleep late and catch up on watching TV reruns.

• Pollen counts are generally lower during cold weather, meaning allergy sufferers get a break.

• More sightings of colorful breeds of birds at the bird-feeder.

• Endless possibilities for parents to take cutesey photos of children, grandchildren and pets playing in the snow that can be sent to friends.

• Allows meteorologists and reporters in the field covering winter weather a chance to fatten their resumes by obtaining footage of themselves performing on location to use when applying for future gigs as they move up the news/showbiz ladder.

• According to the 2019 “Farmer’s Almanac,” exercising outdoors in cold weather increases the release of feel-good hormones called endorphins, while the stress hormone known as cortisol is lower in the body during the winter.

• Sleeping in a cooler room instead of a warmer one has been found to promote restful sleep, according to the Journey to Natural Living website.

• For those concerned with their looks, cold weather increases blood circulation that helps reduce the likelihood of puffy eyes and facial swelling.

• Exposure to cool weather also tightens pores of the skin and invigorates the face.

• Walking or exercising outdoors during cold weather can actually kickstart efforts to lose excess body fat. Although our bodies do burn more calories to keep warm in cold weather, there is not enough evidence to make a case that the cold might be the deciding factor in our nation’s obesity trend.

• A Time magazine article by Jeffrey Kluger said crime rates tend to drop during winter, especially in the larger cities in the Northeast — that is, if cars stolen while left running in the driveway by owners waiting for them to warm up are not included.

• Brutal winters allow transplanted Northerners now living in our area more opportunities to point out our shortcomings and our inability to drive “here in the South” on icy or snow-covered roads like they claim to be able to do “back home.”

Keith Barnes is a reporter and columnist for the Johnstonian News. Email him at kbarnes.jhn@wilsontimes.com.

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