Cheryl Powell,?Kathy Antoniotti?and Paula Schleis
Who says nothing good can come from bad weather?
Sure, the frigid temperatures and recent snowfalls have created havoc on area roads and closed schools throughout the region.
But from allergy sufferers to ski resort operators, some people are appreciating the pluses of the subzero temperatures.
Mold gets cold shoulder
Mother Nature is giving mold and dust mites the cold shoulder — and that’s a good thing for area residents with allergies.
The deep freeze is bringing welcome relief for people with mold allergies, as well as those whose symptoms are triggered by dust mites, said Dr. Bela Faltay, chief of allergy and immunology at Akron General Medical Center.
During some recent winter seasons, mild temperatures meant more mold because the ground was soggy, rather than frozen. Higher humidity levels in homes also meant more dust mites.
Not this year.
“When it’s this cold, it’s much dryer in the indoor environment,” Faltay said. “When the humidity drops below 55 percent, you have much less dust mites. You have snow covering the ground and you have less humidity indoors, so there are less mold issues.”
Of course, the record-cold temperatures also bring their share of health-related minuses.
Extremely cold air can trigger asthma symptoms for some sufferers, Faltay said. The dry air also makes symptoms worse for patients with eczema, a condition that causes skin to be inflamed, red, dry, bumpy and itchy.
Big lift for ski resorts
After enduring unseasonably warm winters in recent years, this season’s cold temperatures and plentiful snow are providing a major lift for Boston Mills/Brandywine Ski Resorts.
Although the ski resorts in northern Summit County have extensive snow-making capabilities, the temperatures must stay cold enough for the white stuff to stick around, spokesman Steve Mackle said.
“We’re having a great year so far,” he said. “The conditions have been awesome. We’ve needed this. It’s been a rough couple years.”
Boston Mills and Brandywine are seeing an increase in both season and day passes from previous years as skiers and snowboarders take advantage of the wintery weather, he said.
But there can be too much of a good thing.
Brandywine was closed Monday and remained shuttered Tuesday because of the dangerous wind chills, Mackle said. Boston Mills was open Tuesday with limited hours.
“Wind chills were going to be pretty extreme,” he said. “We’re looking ahead for the safety of our guests and the safety of our employees.
“We want everybody to be safe, and we want them to have a nice long season.”
Ice is nice for businesses
The arctic blast also is good for business at the Portage Lakes.
Much of the business generated by boat traffic on the Portage Lakes in the summer months switches to all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, bringing people to area restaurants and bars dotting the Portage Lakes shoreline, said New Franklin Mayor Al Bollas.
“The ice brings in money to our businesses and really helps the economy in the winter,” he said.
Bollas estimated the ice is at least 7 inches thick in most lakes in the Portage Lakes chain.
Portions of the lake are swept clear of snow for skaters when the ice is as thick as it is now, the mayor said.
Avid ATV sportsman Rick Saunders, owner of Sully’s Tool and Party Rental on Fortuna Drive in Green, said he and his friends were on the ice for more than three hours Sunday.
“It was ’09 or ’10 the last time we had ice this thick,” he said.
People make the same rounds on snow machines that they normally do by boat, he said. As he and his friends traveled from one restaurant to the next, Saunders counted more than 40 machines parked at local haunts.
People who operate ATVs and snowmobiles on the lakes should pay attention to open areas that do not freeze and to remember to turn their lights on after dark, just as they would on their boats or cars, Bollas advised. “There are still some soft spots out there.”
Not quite cold enough
Of course, maybe we’re not getting enough of a bad thing.
Action 19 News investigated whether the chill might banish the emerald ash borer, which has been diligently working toward making ash trees extinct in Ohio. The beetle, likely brought to America from Asia in shipping materials, made its way to Ohio about a decade ago.
One horticulturist suggested an actual temperature of 30 below might kill off most of the bugs.
“As it gets colder basically their blood starts to chemically convert over to, become like an antifreeze in them, so they won’t freeze to death,” Petitti’s horticulturist Paul Mendezoff said. “To really knock back the invasive insect, we would have to see a deep freeze of 30 below for at least a week.”
Unfortunately — or fortunately? — things aren’t going to get that bad.