Some can’t take snow days

Many have to ven­ture out in freez­ing temps and on icy, snow­packed roads.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

Many Coloradans avoided Satur­day’s cold tem­per­a­tures by stay­ing tucked in­doors, drink­ing hot choco­late and per­haps watch­ing their fa­vorite hol­i­day movie while be­ing hugged by a snug­gie.

But for some, such as Den­ver’s fire, air­port and postal work­ers, the job doesn’t stop just be­cause of a lit­tle snow and sub­zero tem­per­a­tures.

“That’s one of the ex­pec­ta­tions that’s set early on in our ca­reers,” Den­ver fire spokes­woman Melissa Tay­lor said. “We have to be there no mat­ter what.”

Be­tween 6 and 8 inches of snow fell on Den­ver overnight Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice. And although the storm wound down Satur­day, tem­per­a­tures stuck around zero and be­gan fall­ing again af­ter dark, with the tem­per­a­ture at Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port hit­ting 14 be­low zero just be­fore 6 p.m., break­ing the record low for the date set in 1909. Ear­lier, Den­ver set a record for the cold­est high on that date, at 3 de­grees, beat­ing the pre­vi­ous Dec. 17 record of 7 de­grees, set in 1884.

Den­ver’s snow­fall may seem puny in

com­par­i­son to the 12-18 inches the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said dumped on the west-fac­ing moun­tains above 10,000 feet, but it still put a wrench in some peo­ple’s plans.

Air­lines can­celed more than 300 flights Satur­day, mak­ing up roughly 20 per­cent of Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port’s 1,500 daily flights. And for those who de­cided to stay in the city, Colorado Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion warned them to avoid the snow­packed and icy roads by stay­ing home.

But a snow day wasn’t on the ta­ble for ev­ery­one..

“When you’re in­volved in the Postal Ser­vice, you’re on your best,” U.S. Postal Ser­vice spokesman David Ru­pert said. “You’re eat­ing your Wheaties, you’re tight­en­ing your boots. This is prime time for us.”

The USPS has nearly 240 years of tra­di­tion that won’t be stopped by a snow­storm, es­pe­cially dur­ing the busy sea­son, Ru­pert said. The ser­vice plans to de­liver 400,000 pack­ages Sun­day, many of which are presents for the hol­i­days.

“In this time of year, (postal work­ers) don’t just do it for a pay­check,” Ru­pert said. “We do it re­ally for a higher cause in mind. We know that we’re charged with de­liv­er­ing cheer. A lot of peo­ple are count­ing on us to com­plete their Christ­mases.”

He said that as long as roads are open, the Postal Ser­vice de­liv­ers mail. The only time peo­ple are taken off the road is in the case of a bliz­zard that would risk em­ploy­ees safety.

Sim­i­larly, air­port em­ploy­ees don’t stop be­cause of rough weather con­di­tions, the ex­cep­tion be­ing March’s bliz­zard that forced the air­port to tem­po­rar­ily shut down, DIA spokesman Heath Mont­gomery said.

“The only real con­di­tions that we pull peo­ple from the ramp would be for light­ning,” Mont­gomery said. “That’s a safety is­sue.”

The air­port had to bring in more work­ers than planned to clear road­ways and plow air­fields Fri­day night when the ac­tual snow­fall dou­bled fore­casts, DIA spokesman Heath Mont­gomery said.

The fire depart­ment, too, can’t take a break. In­stead, fire crews put on tire chains when nec­es­sary and con­tinue to han­dle calls as usual, in­clud­ing those for falls and car crashes that tend to crop up more dur­ing this time of year.

And although Tay­lor said it’s bet­ter for fewer peo­ple to be driv­ing on the streets in the snow, she said they should step out­side of their warm homes quickly to shovel the side­walks, es­pe­cially for their elderly neigh­bors. That way, it’s eas­ier for re­spon­ders to trans­port peo­ple from their homes quickly in­stead of wad­ing through piles of snow with a stretcher.

“The nice thing about this par­tic­u­lar (storm) be­ing on a week­end: Hope­fully, if peo­ple don’t have to get out, they’ll choose not to,” Tay­lor said.

Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

U.S. Postal Ser­vice mail car­rier Mil­ton Espinosa braves snow and bit­ter cold tem­per­a­tures near South Jack­son Street and East Wes­ley Av­enue in Den­ver on Satur­day.

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