Snow stalls Santa |

Snow stalls Santa

Storm delays mail for at least two days

Mike Lawrence

UPS driver Phil Pryke clears packing peanuts from a truck Thursday. UPS's hub in Denver was closed because of a blizzard that hit the Front Range, so Steamboat drivers were able to catch up on housekeeping items.

— Santa might be a day or two late with presents for families in Steamboat Springs and across Colorado.

Frank Murphy, postmaster at the U.S. Post Office branch at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat, said Thursday that blizzard-related closings of Denver post offices and Denver International Airport will delay all mail, including holiday cards and packages, for at least two days.

“DIA is a hub for the entire United States, both for travelers and for mail,” Murphy said. “We haven’t received anything from Denver today yet. We don’t know what their status is.”

The severe winter storm that hit Colorado on Wednesday and Thursday dumped 2 feet of snow on Denver and the Front Range, shutting down the airport, causing massive traffic delays and closing all government buildings, including post offices.

All post offices east of the Continental Divide in Colorado, and as far north as Cheyenne, Wyo., were closed Thursday.

“Dangerous winter storm conditions : have severely impacted post office staffing, the safe transportation of mail in these areas, customer service and overall postal operations,” said Al Desarro, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman in Denver. “Postal employees in these areas will continue to work diligently over the next few days before Christmas, to try and ensure every piece of mail is delivered before Christmas.”

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Murphy said that, inevitably, the weather will cause some gifts to arrive after the holiday.

“There will be some parcels that arrive after Christmas. But it’s like the old saying: better late than not at all,” Murphy said. “We have a very good crew here in Steamboat, and we’re going to give it everything we can to get the parcels delivered.”

As he waited for the call from Denver on Thursday, Murphy discussed rerouting possibilities for express mail, such as a plane from Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden to Glenwood Springs or Grand Junction.

“I’ve never seen a storm of this magnitude this close to Christmas,” said Murphy, who has worked 35 winters as a postal employee, primarily in Wisconsin. “Yeah, we’ve seen storms, but nothing that has paralyzed things like this one did.”

Murphy urged Steamboat residents to check their post office boxes frequently in coming days, to help the office deal with a likely flood of backed-up parcels when Denver offices continue service.

“We’re going to get inundated with parcels in three or four days, when this opens up,” Murphy said. “We’re going to need all the room we can get.”