With all the power outages, accidents and missed work snow causes, winters like these can seem pretty bleak.

But there is a bright side to all the white stuff: It helps farmers and planters.

"Definitely, snowpack is helpful," said Connie Schmotzer, a master gardener at Penn State Cooperative Extension.

Since snow seeps into the ground slowly as it melts — rather than washing away quickly like during a bad summer storm — it replenishes the groundwater, she said.

As of Thursday, the groundwater level at York County's observation well was 19.32 feet below the land surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. "There's definitely a good side to having a good winter," Schmotzer said.

Recharging for spring: That groundwater will make for a good moisture supply in the spring, said Mike Flinchbaugh, co-owner of Flinchbaugh's Orchard and Farm Market in Hellam Township.

"I would say that's the biggest benefit of the above-average snowstorm," he said.

The orchard has had minor damage from this winter's snow and ice, Flinchbaugh said. A couple of peach trees' limbs were broken, and many tree limbs will have to be pushed out of the way of fields where crops go, he said.

But overall, he said, this winter hasn't been very harmful.

"In terms of the orchard, we didn't have much damage at all, really," Flinchbaugh said.

Other benefits: Snow is also a great insulator, Schmotzer said.

"For tender plants, snow acts as a blanket from cold temperatures," she said.

And at Flinchbaugh's, the snow protected its wheat crop from bitterly cold temps and a couple of high-wind scenarios that could have stunted its growing process, he said.

"That should really help it come through the winter pretty good," Flinchbaugh said.

Also, although cold weather won't eliminate pests, many insects are inhibited by colder temps, Schmotzer said.

Now farmers just need the snow to melt by the end of February so work can begin in March and April, Flinchbaugh said.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.