The Postal Service is suggesting that Utahns outside Salt Lake City, whose mailboxes have been buried by the recent snowstorms, use a pail or other container as a temporary mailbox until the snow can be removed.

Postal officials say this plan won't work for patrons whose Zip code begins with the numbers 841, which includes all Salt Lake City residents, but it will work for everyone else in Utah.Salt Lake City Postmaster Kenneth R. Prentiss says customers should try to clear a path to their mailbox as soon as possible after a storm so mail delivery can remain timely.

"But when snow falls as heavily as it has recently or when it quickly crusts over, we understand that is not always possible," he said.

"In these cases, place a container with your name and address on it where you letter carrier can easily reach it and make sure it is marked as a mailbox."

He said carriers with driving routes have been getting out of their vehicles and walking to mailboxes when necessary and when possible, but in some cases, he said, the snow is so deep they can't even get close.

Prentiss said each carrier makes between 500 and 800 stops a day and just a 30-second delay at each mailbox makes the time and cost of delivering mail astronomical. "It is also a safety hazard for drivers when a carrier leaves his vehicle parked out in the street while he walks to a mailbox."

Elderly and handicapped people who cannot clean snow from around their mailboxes and who cannot leave a temporary container outside should call their local post office. "We'll work with you to figure out a solution," Prentiss said.