Check out the mood of your co-workers and family members, or scroll through your latest Facebook news feed, and you'll find almost everyone is already praying for the return of warmer weather.

Last week's snowfall and this week's dangerously low temperatures have forced New Jerseyans to develop a hatred for the colder months. However, the truth is this type of weather is needed in the Garden State; it actually has some benefits, even if most of them aren't that exciting to the average Jersey resident.

frozen field
Flickr User Floris M. Oosterveld

From an environmental standpoint, a cold snap can help alleviate a number of future problems, according to Al Murray, New Jersey assistant secretary of agriculture.

"It's making everything slow down. It's a period of rest," Murray said. "Plants are living things, and like all living things, need a period of rest."

Fruit crops, like apple trees, require a certain amount of "chilling" during the winter in order for them to develop properly in the spring.

"Cold weather can also play a role in knocking down insect pests, making sure that certain types of insects don't survive throughout the winter," added Tony Broccoli, professor of atmospheric science at Rutgers University.

One mischievous critter that could be affected is the southern pine beetle, whose infestation damages thousands of acres of trees in New Jersey each year. However, the beetle's population size probably won't be largely affected by just one day of extremely cold temperatures.

"I think it's got to be probably three or more days of sustainable, extremely cold weather," said Ron Corcory with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's State Forestry Service.

The same could be said for most of these cold-weather benefits. Farmers and industry experts say fluctuating temperatures can be detrimental to soil and crops.

"It's almost like a person trying to get a good night's sleep," said Murray. "Plants, when they go into a slumber -- they need to stay that way."

Other potential benefits:

Reduce inflammation -- Some studies claim cold weather can help relieve swelling on a sprained ankle or bruised knee, much like a bag of ice.

Less fat -- Our bodies need to produce heat to fight the cold, and in the process, we're burning calories.

Appreciation -- Enough brutal weather makes you realize you may have been taking sunshine and mild temperatures for granted.

Break from school (for the kids) -- Students in many parts of the state had a delayed opening on Tuesday, following a snow day on Friday.

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