Dashing Through the Snow

Santa's helpers are gearing up. The U.S. Postal Service expects Americans to mail more than 20 billion cards, letters and packages this holiday season, up 4 percent from last year. The holiday season gives a substantial boost to Postal Service revenue. Of the estimated $65 billion in annual revenue, about 32 percent comes from the holiday season.

-- Stephen Barr

Here's how the Postal Service plans to handle its own seasonal blizzard:

Extend lobby hours at many of the nation's 40,000 post offices.

40,000

Number of temporary workers hired to help its permanent staff of more than 800,000.

1 million

Number of square feet of additional space leased for mail processing.

40,000

Number of commercial air flights that will move mail around the country

100

Number of cargo planes that, starting Dec. 13, will be leased to make up lost time because of bad weather or other problems.

Add thousands of trucks and dozens of trains for mail transportation.

26 million

Number of additional sacks and trays put into service.

The Postal Service won't be alone in helping out Santa. Its competitors, such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service, will be delivering packages too.

Estimated daily letters and packages

Postal Service

Typical non-holiday: 88 million

Peak (Dec. 13): 300 million

UPS

Typical non-holiday: 12.5 million

Peak (Dec. 17): 18 million

Federal Express

Typical non-holiday: 3 million

Peak (Dec. 22): 4.5 million

SOURCES: U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service, Federal Express