Following a coating of ice last week, a wide section of Iowa got more snow over the weekend, with southwest Iowa’s Taylor County reporting up to nine inches of snow. The storm front left behind bitter cold, with wind chills approaching 25 below zero. It also left a mess.

It’s hard enough to negotiate slippery concrete but it’s even worse if you’re trying to carry a bulky package or two, according to Richard Watkins at the U.S. Postal Service.  “This is our big time of year, of course, and we ask our carriers to be really careful in ice and snow, not only on the roads and streets but in delivering the mail to residential houses,” Watkins says.

Iowa residents play a key role in helping letter carriers to stay safe. “We’ve asked our customers across the state to clear as much snow and ice as they safely can from around their walkways, their steps, their porches and, in particular, around their rural mailboxes,” Watkins says, “because we’re trying to get these Christmas packages to our customers in time for Christmas.”

He says the postal service is seeing a welcome boost in package volume during these final days of the year, an increase of 12-to-15-percent. “That’s certainly good news for the postal service, that we get this extra business, but this weather’s not doing anything to help us,” Watkins says. “That’s where our customers can come in and help get that mail and those packages delivered on time.” If a snowplow has come along and piled snow along your roadside mailbox, he also asks that you clear a path so the mail truck can reach it.