As the snow began to fall on Christmas Eve, Brian Hensel with the Missoula Street Division sent out his snowplow drivers in what was the beginning of several 16 hour shifts clearing the city's streets.

"We had all available crews out starting at about 10:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve, and they worked 16 hours until about 4:00 a.m. on Christmas morning," Hensel said. "I gave them their eight hours of break, and then they all went back at it again. We had anywhere from five to seven plows working 16 hour shifts, and then they did 10 hours on Monday."

Hensel said anyone curious about the priorities utilized by the city in clearing the streets should simply consult the City of Missoula website, where they are clearly marked.

"What we try to do on weekends is concentrate on the main roads and the steeper streets," he said. "This time, the guys got the priority one's in shape by late Sunday, and so, I called them in again on Monday and they started going in on priority two's, which is unusual, but because so many people were getting stuck, I said 'hey, lets start knocking these out right now', and the guys came in. We've been working on priority three's and we're hoping to get started on some residential streets today, but that may be a bit of a stretch."

Hensel said the city is asking for patience from homeowners because of the sheer volume of snow. Missoula hasn't had this much snow all at once since 1996.

"Since some of the streets hadn't been plowed since Christmas Eve, and now we're trying to get in there and get these plowed," he said. "We're trying to minimize the size of the berms as we get into these priority three's or residential streets, and so we're creating berms in front of parked vehicles, mailboxes and driveways, so unfortunately, we have to rely on the homeowners to help remove those berms."

Hensel said homeowners should use caution as to where they deposit the snow they have to clear on their own, and not put it back in the street.

"What a lot of folks are doing, and I just don't understand this, is they're clearing driveways and sidewalks and pushing the snow back out into the street," he said. "I really would hope folks don't do that, because they're creating a hazard for the public and it just doesn't make any sense, and someone might get in an accident because someone threw a bunch of snow on the street. So, I ask that people use some common sense and throw your snow to the side or in your yard. For you commercial guys, I've had some clear out a parking lot and put the snow right back into the driving lanes, so please don't do that."

Hensel said the Missoula Street Division will take your phone calls and requests for a snowplow by calling 552-6360, and there is more information here on the city's website.