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The Top Five Unexpected Benefits of the Cold

With unrelenting cold bearing down on the nation, some may dread the dead of winter. However, the cold also brings with it some surprising benefits.

1. Reduced Number of Tree-Killing Bugs

Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive inspect species is known to feed on the bark of trees as larvae, ultimately cutting of the trees water and nutrient supply and resulting in the death of the tree.

However, low temperatures bring hope for ash trees, as lower temperatures are known to kill more of these insects, according to U.S. Forest Service Research Biologist Robert Venette.

"Around minus 20 F, we typically expect around 50 percent of the insects to be potentially killed and closer to minus 30 F almost 90 percent of the insects can be killed," Venette said.

Another harmful species, impacted by colder weather is the gypsy moth.

"It can only handle temperatures down to minus 15 to minus 17 degrees," Venette said. "We think that areas that got colder than that will probably see fewer insects."

2. Better Recovery from Exercise

A new study shows that the therapy method known as cryotherapy, the exposure of the body to low temperatures for therapy purposes, may be the most effective recovery method for runners suffering from exercise-related damage and pain.

In this study, researchers used three methods of recovery, cold exposure, heat and rest, on runners with muscle damage to see technique proved to be best.

The results of the test concluded that the athletes who received cryotherapy gained back muscle strength more quickly and recovered faster than those who experienced the other two recovery procedures.

3. Ice Caves Open Along Lake Superior

Only accessible during the winter months in very specific conditions, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ice caves along Lake Superior in Michigan, provide a memorable winter scene for those lucky enough to make the hike.

Due to depth of the Great Lakes, the caves are only accessible by foot when the lake surface has completely frozen. A two-mile trek atop the frozen tundra is required to reach the caves, where various formations of icicles hang from the cliffs.

Before heading out, adventurists should be sure to check with the National Park Service for the latest park alerts and ice conditions.

4. Less Disease-Carrying Bugs

Thriving in warm, moist environments mosquitos are usually most active from early summer through late fall in the regions of the country that do not experience warm temperatures all-year long including, the Northeast.

As cold weather sets in, these insects, some of which carry the West Nile Virus, usually stop biting around 50 degrees and generally become inactive or die around the time of the first frost.

5. Huge Winter Surf

As pressure and temperatures differences grow during the winter months, more wind is generated, creating bigger waves along the Great Lakes, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Edwards.

Waves along the Great Lakes have reached up to between eight and ten feet already this winter.

Also during the wintertime, farther west, a sagging jet stream, stronger winds and colder air aid in fueling stronger storms that produce massive swells in Hawaii.

"Summer has typically much weaker storms, so this happens mostly in winter," AccuWeather Western Weather Expert Meteorologist Ken Clark said.

Known for the Banzai Pipeline, the North Shore of Oahu experiences huge waves during the winter months, making the area a prime spot for some of the world's most premiere professional surfers. At the pipeline, the surf breaks across the shallow coral reef waters, allowing for some of the largest and deadliest waves in the world.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kristen Rodman at Kristen.Rodman@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Kristen or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.