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Caution urged as snow piles up on Missoula's roads

Snow hits Missoula heavy Thursday, snow plows in action
Posted at 4:13 PM, Jan 06, 2022

MISSOULA — Western Montana woke up to blowing wind, cold temperatures and snow-covered cars on Thursday.

But people still need to go to work or get their kids to school — and with this active weather, it’s important to take extra precautions.

“This is a good storm, compared to how it’s been," Lawns of Montana contractor told MTN News.

Contractors like Kooyman were hard at work doing what they could — shoveling, plowing — in these conditions as drivers tried to navigate their own parking lots.
“Well, it’s not my favorite thing to do right now. It’s hard work," Kooyman said, adding that he started work at 2 a.m.

Plows in the Missoula area just can’t be everywhere at once.

“[People need to] not look at it as the responsibility of the city to do the impossible because we only have a finite number of plows," noted Missoula Police Department spokesman Lt. Eddie McLean. "The snow has to be put somewhere and sometimes the best place for that is the center of the road.

Driving in these conditions can be treacherous because of all the snow on the roads.

The Missoula Police Department has already responded to over 20 traffic collisions in the city so far this year.

“What's really relevant about that is that the vast majority of those are preventable. It is the responsibility of the driver to heed Mother Nature," McLean said.

Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Missoula Area Maintenance Chief Steve Felix says that driving has been difficult amid the current conditions.

“We're seeing some vehicles going into the ditch and some accidents and a lot of that's due to people driving too fast or over-driving for the conditions," Felix said.

Felix stressed caution as this strong storm continues noting that just because good snow tires can get you going, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to stop quickly.

Some advice is to always keep a good distance between other cars, and avoid travel if possible. Additionally, Felix says to never use cruise control when ice is a possibility.

“if you've got raindrops hitting your windshield in January in Montana, there's a good chance you're going to find some ice somewhere on the roadway," Felix said.

Click here to view the latest information on road conditions across Montana.