City of Missoula plow crews have been busy in the last week keeping up with the snow, ice and low temperatures. Those temps play a key role in what kind of product they can use on the roads.

Whether it's liquid de-icer, or sand, well, it's really up to weather.

Lower temps, anything below about 18 degrees means the city uses sand to combat icy roads.

“When we get the cold temperatures, which we have been doing…we've been using sand everywhere,” said Street Division Superintendent Brian Hensel.

For temperatures between 18 and 32 degrees, liquid de-icer is sprayed on the roads. “We typically will use the liquid when we have snow events during warmer temperatures,” Hensel said.

Plow crews also have a protocol for what roads they clear and treat first. It starts with what they call priority areas. Those are well traveled streets like Reserve, Orange and Brooks. And during big storms it can take multiple trips to clear the roads.

“The guys will stay on those until they're safe. We may have to come back on priority ones until we get them done,” said Hensel.

After priority streets have been taken care of the street division works its way down to residential areas. Hensel said sometimes it takes a day or two before they can get to neighborhoods, so they’re asking for patience, especially during continuous snow events.

“We spend overtime, we work around the clock and we follow our priority system which may cause some confusion. But we get to everything as fast as we can.”