Cold temps have outdoor workers taking note
‘Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night…’ the old saying goes…turns out the same applies to minus 22 degree weather.
As temperatures across the region plummeted well below zero and remained there, those who make their living outside just keep on keeping on.
“It would have to be a natural disaster or something like that,” Granville Village Post Master Randy Van Brocklin said when asked when the post office might stop delivering. “We go out and at least attempt delivery on every day,” he said.
Granville Post office United States mail carriers Steve O’Dell and Heather Leaman were out on their appointed rounds Friday morning despite a late morning mercury reading of minus 10 degrees.
Each said the same thing when they were asked how they cope with breathtaking cold temperatures: layers.
O’Dell said he has been a mail carrier for over 23 years and the weather wasn’t all that bad to him.
“I’ve carried in colder weather than this,” he said.
Wind chill is the single factor in taking a cold day and making it brutal and unpleasant, he said.
“Without wind you can deal with it,” he said.
O’Dell had hand warmers in some of his pockets and said layering was crucial to keeping warm and fighting off the cold.
“And keep moving. If you keep moving and don’t stop you’ll be fine,” he said. Experience has show this veteran carrier that once he is used to the cold, acclimatized, he is better off staying outside and finishing what he has to get done rather than taking a break to come inside to warm up to try to go back outside again.
O’Dell said as a skier he often uses some of the same clothing he uses to keep warm and dry while skiing to stay warm and dry while carrying mail from under armor moisture-wicking insulate layers to gators and face masks.
O’Dell said he uses a custom glove set up he has developed using a mitten on his left and on his right, where he needs the dexterity, a fingerless glove.
To keep his fingertips warm he stashes a chemical hand warmer packet in the pocket of his jacket and keeps one inside the glove near the palm.
Leaman was decked out in a furry hat with long ear flaps.
Walking into the office after making a round, little could be seen of her as just a bit of her faced peeked out from under the hat and neck gator combination she wore.
Leaman said the hat was called a ‘Mad Bomber’ and came from Cabela’s, something she picked up herself to help fight off the cold.
Each wore post office-issued over boots similar to a mukluk to insulate their feet from the cold, frozen ground.
Staying inside, even on a day of such biting cold, was just not an option for the carriers. Leaman said the only time she could recall not delivering mail was the Valentine’s Day storm from two years ago.
On that day, due to the amount of snow clogging the streets and sidewalks and the lack of any place to park the mail vehicles, little mail was delivered in Granville.
Van Brocklin said as a carrier he had seen temperatures as low as 50 degrees below zero, but that had been with a wind chill.
“You just have to dress properly, you have to dress in layers,” he said. “You can’t allow any exposed skin when the wind chill gets down that far.”
“When it’s really brutal cold you just have to eliminate any exposed skin but if you’re properly dressed and moving all the time then it’s bearable,” he said.
Van Brocklin said he could only think of a few instances when mail delivery might be curtailed, but added it would have to be an extreme situation.
At his last assignment in Corinth, he said he could recall only one day when weather-related events limited mail delivery when high spring winds were knocking branches out of large trees lining the streets; even then some of the mail was delivered.
Box: “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Andy Dirga of A. D. Services said braving the cold weather was not his idea of a good time either.
“It was brutal out there this morning,” Dirga said.
When he arrived to begin work around 4 a.m. he said he was able to watch the temperature on the big clock sign outside of the Glens Falls National drop from 20 degrees below zero to 22 degrees below zero before the dawn and sunrise.
“You’ve got to dress in layers, four or five layers,” he said.
As a runner who is also training for long distance races, he said running outside is difficult when it’s cold, but gets even worse when the cold is extreme.
At work, doing everything from cleaning banks to shoveling roofs and sidewalks, Dirga said the extreme cold just makes every task more difficult.