In responding to the major blizzard event that has buried Missoula, the City of Missoula will be working 24 hours a day in an effort to keep the streets cleared of snow.

Communications Director Ginny Merriam said on Friday afternoon, February 28, that Mayor Jon Engen has basically thrown out the overtime budget to help keep the streets cleared.

"Mayor Engen has directed city snowplow crews to work at maximum capacity 24 hours a day with focus on streets designated as priority throughout the weekend's winter storm," Merriam said. "We've really had to throw out the idea of trying to conserve the overtime budget because we think it's important to try at least to keep the major streets clear."

Merriam praised the Mountain Line bus service for expanding their free rides through Saturday, March 1.

"They are so nice," Merriam said. "A lot of people have left their cars at home and ridden the bus today (Friday), so they're expanding that free service through tomorrow."

Merriam said the National Weather Service is predicting strong winds through the Missoula area from Friday night through Saturday, then more snow is expected from Sunday evening into Monday, so the 24 hour schedule for snowplows will continue. There could be another six to nine inches of snow by late Monday.

"We will keep doing 24 hours a day," Merriam said. "They'll be working 14 hour shifts really until the need diminishes."

The number to call to report a residential street that needs plowing, or a driveway that may have been blocked in by the snowplows is 552-6360.

City of Missoula Communications Director Ginny Merriam