TIME weather

7 Reasons to Love This Freezing Weather

Because there's always a bright side

It was 1º F in New York City on Friday—one frigging degree. That’s a keep-the-penny, why-bother, rounding error on the Fahrenheit scale. Convert it to Centigrade and it gets even worse, a brisk -17.22º, which may help explain why America never went metric.

But cold weather isn’t so bad. OK, it is, but here are seven things to like about the current deep freeze:

Less crime!

Criminals may be fools but they’re not stupid. If you’re going to heist a flat-screen TV or knock over a convenience store, would you rather do it when it’s 7oº and clear or when it’s 12-below and the wind chill factor is freezing your eyeballs? Crime historically drops during winter, and when it’s a brutal winter, things get even more peaceful. New York just earned applause after setting an all-time record for consecutive days without a homicide—at 12. (We do get graded on a curve.) Boston—which is just one woolly mammoth away from the next Ice Age—saw a 32% drop in larcenies, 35% in burglaries and 70% in homicides from Jan. 1 to Feb. 8, compared to the same period last year. But cold weather can increase auto thefts, thanks to what are known as puffers, cars left running in driveways while owners wait inside for them to warm up.

More sex!

Maybe it’s the cuddling under blankets, or the body heat generated when you’re active, or the belief that one more day of this flipping cold and you’re going to die so you and your squeeze might as well go out happy. But whatever it is, when things freeze, humans steam. Last summer, the Pittsburgh area saw a spike in s0-called “polar vortex babies,” with increases in births of 27.8% and 15.9% at two area hospitals compared to the same period a year earlier, following a bitter stretch that occurred nine months earlier. Cold weather amorousness may also be attributable to the mere fact that it gets dark earlier in the winter—putting people in mind of nighttime activities—or that bundling up in the winter means we see less skin during the day so even a glimpse of a partner’s elbow or ankle might be enough to light the engines.

Lose Weight!

Snowmen may never be anything but round, but the rest of us can slim down naturally in cold weather. That’s mostly because of the simple business of shivering. The whole purpose of shivering is to keep you moving, which generates heat—and uses calories. The very good news is, it doesn’t even take active shivering to burn at least some fat. A phenomenon called non-shivering thermogenesis (NST) may raise your thermostat and lower your weight when it’s as warm as 64º F (17.8º C). Caveat: NST helps only so much. Waiting out winter by huddling under a blanket, binge-watching TV and hoovering up Doritos is still going to have the expected effect.

Fewer bugs!

Nothing like the buzz of flies, the bite of mosquitos and the sting of bees to make summer the idyll it is—not. One of the few advantages of winter is that it’s murder on insects. All of them make provisions before the freeze hits, of course—either burrowing underground and hunkering down until spring or leaving behind a fresh clutch of eggs that can turn into a fresh swarm of bugs next summer. But if the thermometer drops far enough, those eggs may be finished too. The gypsy moth, the emerald ash borer and the pests that feed on honey locust trees all leave fewer heirs when the thermometer falls below zero. That means an easier season for the trees, and far fewer things for you to swat with a rolled up newspaper.

Live longer!

Alright, this one might be a stretch. Studies have absolutely, positively shown that colder temperatures activate genes that increase longevity—provided you’re a worm. Which you’re probably not. But another study shows that reducing core body temperature can increase lifespans by as much as 20%—provided you’re a mouse. Or a mussel. Still, it’s breakthroughs in animal studies that often lead to breakthroughs in human studies, so there’s reason to hope. Meantime, go mussels!

Feel no pain!

Or at least feel less. All that stuff you hear about cold weather making arthritis and other joint pain worse is true enough. But in at least one study in Finland, a plunge into icy water was found to increase norepinephrine levels in the blood as much as two- or three-fold. One of the many jobs neuropinephrine does is reduce overall pain. That’s a good thing. But plunging into icy water to get that effect? Not so much. So this one too may need a little work.

Fewer wars!

Napoleon didn’t leave a whole lot of valuable lessons behind. But one thing history’s bad boy did teach us was that on the list of truly bad ideas, attacking Russia in the winter ranks pretty much No. 1. It’s not just that wars bog down in cold weather, it’s that we tend to be less moved to fight them. Part of this is the same phenomenon that keeps crime down in the cold. Part is something much newer that was revealed in a 2011 study, which showed that higher temperatures have historically meant higher levels of armed conflict. The Cold War, it turns out, may have been an oxymoron.

TIME weather

Winter Cold Breaks Records With Another Storm On the Way

A woman walks through downtown Chicago
Jim Young—Reuters A woman walks through downtown Chicago, Illinois, Feb. 19, 2015.

Friday's record-shattering cold on the eastern U.S. prepares the way for another winter storm this weekend

Relentless, teeth-chattering, record-shattering cold gripped the eastern United States on Friday as the next winter storm threatened to make an icy, snowy mess out of the weekend for tens of millions of people.

Flint, Michigan, dipped to 25 degrees below zero, tying the record for the coldest morning there since records were established in 1921. Philadelphia, Washington and Lexington, Kentucky, had their coldest morning in two decades.

Elsewhere, from Maine to Florida, temperatures were as much as 40 degrees lower than normal. Forecasters said it might turn out to be the coldest air of the entire winter.

Cleveland recorded its lowest temperature on…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Canada

Canadian Boy Dies After Spending Several Hours in the Cold

Elijah Marsh.
Toronto Police/EPA Elijah Marsh.

3-year old Elijah Marsh wandered away from an apartment building in Toronto

A young boy died Thursday after spending several hours outdoors in frigid Canada temperatures.

Security footage showed three-year-old Elijah Marsh wandering away from his Toronto apartment wearing a T-shirt, diaper and winter boots around 4:20 a.m., the Toronto Star reports. Police found the boy around 10 a.m., when he showed no vital signs. He was taken to a hospital and later declared dead.

The temperature in Toronto at the time was around -4° F.

[The Toronto Star]

TIME weather

The Big Freeze Shatters Records on the East Coast

At least 15 weather-related fatalities in Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky

Relentless, teeth-chattering, record-shattering cold gripped the eastern United States on Friday as the next winter storm threatened to make an icy, snowy mess out of the weekend for tens of millions of people.

Flint, Michigan, dipped to 25 degrees below zero, tying the record for the coldest morning there since records were established in 1921. Philadelphia, Washington and Lexington, Kentucky, had their coldest morning in two decades.

Elsewhere, from Maine to Florida, temperatures were as much as 40 degrees lower than normal. Forecasters said it might turn out to be the coldest air of the entire winter…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME weather

January Wasn’t Nearly as Cold as You Thought

It was actually the second-warmest one on record

Last month was the second-warmest January on record, according to new data released Thursday, despite the frigid temperatures that had many on the East Coast shivering.

Land and sea temperatures across the globe were on average 1.39 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for January, and on land temperatures were 2.57 degrees higher than normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Temperatures have only been higher once since the agency began tracking temperatures in 1880—in 2007, when the average land temperature was 3.31 degrees higher than normal throughout the month of January. According to NASA, 2014 was the hottest year since 1880.

While the East Coast faced a typical winter chill in January, the West Coast’s heat was more dramatic, USA Today reports. Seven states had the one of the 10 hottest January’s on record, while no states faced record cold.

TIME weather

Watch a Train Dramatically Plow Through a Massive Snowdrift in Canada

So much more efficient than a regular old shovel

Several parts of eastern Canada have been slammed with truly crazy amounts of snow — but not enough for the freight trains to stop running. In fact, these locomotives are working quite nicely as heavy-duty snow plows.

Earlier this month, a video of one such formidable freight train circulated because it was just weirdly mesmerizing to watch. Now, a new video of a train boldly taking on the snow has emerged, and it’s equally impressive. It was captured along the Ontario Southland Railway line between the towns of Salford and St. Thomas, CBC News reports. (Yes, it’s a designated plow car, but still.)

Watch as the residual snow literally knocks a man to his feet and then just totally buries him.

TIME Bizarre

Kentucky Police Blame Cold Weather On … Elsa From Frozen

Frozen
Disney

"Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into song 'Let it Go!'"

Cold weather hasn’t stopped a Kentucky police department from showing its sense of humor.

The Harlan City Police Department posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that it blamed poor weather on Elsa from Frozen, and that it had taken out a warrant for the snow princess’ arrest.

For the uninitiated, Elsa possesses the magical power to create snow and ice.

Shortly after, the Harlan police posted another message warning residents that, joking aside, the weather was still serious business.

While we might not be able to blame Elsa for the weather, how about issuing an arrest warrant for getting “Let It Go” stuck in our heads for the past year and a half?

TIME weather

Record-Breaking Cold Set to Hit Eastern U.S.

Visitors view frozen Niagara Falls in Niagara Falls, New York, Feb. 17, 2015.
Lindsay DeDario—Reuters Visitors view frozen Niagara Falls in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Feb. 17, 2015.

The Midwest and East Coast will suffer through subzero temperatures on Thursday and Friday

Meteorologists are predicting parts of the eastern United States could experience historically low temperatures over the next few days thanks to a cold spell called the “Siberian Express.”

The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center details that temperatures in the upper and middle Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley, all the way to the Carolinas and lower Great Lakes, will be 25 to 45 degrees below average. That could mean record-low February temperatures for Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio and West Virginia.

The air responsible for the shift has been traveling in from Siberia, over the North Pole and down into North America over the past week.

According to the Washington Post, the nation’s capital didn’t drop below 6 degrees last year. But this week, the region’s NWS office noted that Washington, D.C.’s temperature may fall below zero for the first time since Jan. 19, 1994.

The center also expects more “heavy snow” for parts of New England, making for unwelcome news after successive storms dumped several feet of snow in the region over the last few weeks.

TIME weather

Here’s What Niagara Falls Looks Like Frozen

A winter wonderland on the border

Frigid temperatures by the Great Lakes are giving tourists a whole new reason to visit Niagara Falls.

The famous waterfalls by the Canada-U.S. border were partially frozen this week as temperatures in the area hit 13 degrees below zero on Monday. Though the falls were hardly frozen solid—water continued to flow—layers of ice built up, giving the impression of a winter wonderland amid its icy mist and surrounding snow.

Temperatures aside, the cold weather doesn’t deter necessarily tourists. Last year, the site received more visitors during a week in early March than the average winter week as word (and photos) of the falls’ frozen appearance spread, USA Today reported.

Read next: Ithaca, New York’s Tourism Board Gives Up, Invites Visitors to Head to Florida Instead

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME weather

Winter Weather: Subzero Cold Coming to Iced-Over South

Winter Weather Kentucky
David Stephenson—AP Jamie McCall shovels his driveway as he tries to keep up with the snowfall at his home in Paris, Ky., Feb. 16, 2015.

In Nashville, Tennessee, the forecast low for Thursday morning is 2 below zero

Hundreds of thousands across the Southeast were still without power Tuesday evening, and with another deep freeze arriving Wednesday, utility crews were in for a long week.

Already iced over by the rare winter storm, much of the region won’t even get back to freezing before the next bitter blast blows in Wednesday night and Thursday morning, pushing low temperatures below zero in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina, The Weather Channel said.

In Nashville, Tennessee, the forecast low for Thursday morning is 2 below zero. That would be the latest in the year that Nashville has been at zero or below in the 144 years that records have been kept there…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News.

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