The U.S. Postal Service is one of those ubiquitous entities that’s as reliable as a Ford F150. They continue to deliver the mail through some pretty heinous conditions.
But even USPS can be stopped by particularly horrible weather. It doesn’t happen often, and it’s usually an “act of God”-type event, but there are times when Mother Nature’s will prevails.
So, what is the USPS inclement weather policy? Here is the explanation you seek.
What Is the USPS Inclement Weather Policy?
The United States Postal Service will make every possible attempt to deliver mail, despite inclement weather. However, in crisis-level situations when roads are impassable and/or mailboxes are completely unreachable, the Postal Service may suspend mail delivery altogether or leave individual stops to the best judgment of the mail carrier.
To learn more about how USPS operates in times of snow, rain, and ice, how a state of emergency affects service, and even if employees can refuse to work in bad weather, find all the details below!
Can the Mailman Not Deliver Because of Snow?
Your mail carrier has the full support of the Postal Service if they deem your residence too dangerous to deliver mail after a snow event.
The Postal Service considers the safety and well-being of its employees to be the top priority.
And that’s not just altruism; employees hurt on the job are entitled to workers’ comp, which can be an incredibly expensive and drawn-out experience.
If a large snowstorm blanketed an entire region, that’s dozens, if not hundreds, of mail carriers potentially putting themselves into harm’s way.
So USPS is definitely going to caution them to use their best judgment when it comes to delivering mail.
Per the USPS.com website:
Carriers are not required to deliver to locations where safety issues — such as threatening animals, slippery steps, snow-packed paths, or icy overhangs — create perilous conditions.
If you want to receive your mail after a significant snow event, you must ensure that the mailbox is dug out, with snow removed from the top.
If your mailbox is closer to the house, in the front door, or perhaps attached to the front, you must ensure that the walkway is cleared and free of ice.
Clear as many icicles as you can, as well, especially the larger ones that could knock someone unconscious if they fell onto a person.
(If ice is an issue for your house, consider investing in a roof rake to stop the problem before it can start.)
On a personal note, I have lived through a once-in-a-lifetime snow event – four feet in 24 hours and a total of seven feet after a week.
The Postal Service had to suspend mail for a few days while they and everyone else dug out, and snowplows worked overtime, literally nonstop, for days upon days.
That was the first time in my life – living in a super snowy region – that mail was actually halted because of the weather.
It was a testament to both the freakish nature of the storm and the Postal Service’s dedication to what they do, as they were back up and running within a few days.
Will Mail Be Delivered If It’s Raining?
Unless you’re looking at monsoon conditions, a little or even a lot of rain isn’t going to stop your USPS mail carrier from delivering.
However, if you’re expecting a large package and it’s not going to fit in your mailbox, you may want to take some steps to keep it from sitting in the rain.
You can use USPS Delivery Instructions before it goes out for delivery to have it held at the Post Office or placed in a specific location on your property, out of the rain.
Check out our full guide on Delivery Instructions here.
Will Mail Be Delivered During an Ice Storm?
Whether or not mail will be delivered during an ice storm depends on a number of factors.
First and foremost, is it safe for mail carriers to be out in the storm? Are there enough salt trucks on the roads to make a dent in the icy conditions?
Then, if they are out in the storm, is your mailbox accessible? Is it iced over and not able to open? Is your walkway to the mailbox clear and ice-free?
If not, you might have to wait until conditions improve, or you can remedy the situation on your property.
Does USPS Deliver in a State Of Emergency?
Mail delivery may be suspended temporarily during a state of emergency event, but you can rest assured that USPS will resume delivery just as soon as they can.
As always, the most important question to the Postal Service is: Is it safe for our employees to be on the roads?
If you aren’t sure if you’re mail is coming after a major disaster, try checking USPS.com or local news sources.
Can USPS Employees Refuse To Work in Bad Weather?
USPS employees can refuse to work during a historically bad weather event, but chances are good that in such a case, the Postal Service would suspend delivery on their own.
Still, according to a message board on FederalSoup.com, there is an 877 number that employees can call to request unscheduled leave in the event of truly bad weather.
Another poster on the board recommended taking photos of the residence and weather conditions to use as proof that the employee was unable to get to work.