Feb 1, 2011 6:41 PM by Zach Thaxton
11:00 a.m. Tuesday. Location: Florence Avenue, Colorado Springs. Air temperature: -7°. Wind chill: -33°. "The only thing that would make this worse is if we had some snow on the ground," says Luis Reyes, a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. "This is probably THE coldest besides a couple years ago when we did shut down."
Despite bone-chilling temperatures and dangerous wind chill, Reyes spent 5 hours delivering mail Tuesday, walking his route rather than driving from mailbox to mailbox. "I walk pretty fast, so my body stays warm," he says. "It comes from being in the infantry."
Reyes has worked for the Postal Service for five years. He says this week's subzero temperatures are among the worst he has experienced. Reyes is one of many people who had no option but to be outdoors, enduring the dangerous weather.
"It's all about dressing in layers," he says. Despite wearing three pairs of socks, two layers of pants, and a handful of layers of shirts and coats, Reyes leaves his face exposed. "I can use a mask, but then condensation sets in and you've got that moisture," he says. "To me, that's worse."
It takes Reyes about 10 to 15 minutes to deliver mail to a full block of houses. After each round of deliveries, he warms up briefly in his mail truck. "It doesn't take but between 5 and 20 minutes for frostbite to set in. You've got to get back in and warm yourself up," he says. "The mail has to get out."
The Postal Service advises residents to clear snow and ice leading to and surrounding their mailboxes to help ensure safe and efficient deliveries for letter carriers.