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Columbia Public Works deploys 51-person plow crew following nearly 10 inches of snow

The city of Columbia Public Works Department deemed priority roads passable and was clearing residential streets Thursday afternoon, following more snowfall Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The total snowfall amounted to 9.9 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Wednesday had 7.2 inches of snow, with an additional 2.7 inches falling Thursday.

A 51-person plow crew Thursday drew on employees from other public works departments including sewer, parks and recreation and power and light.

The city upped the crew to 70 people Thursday evening.

By Thursday afternoon, the fleet also included 25 dump trucks to haul snow away from the downtown area.

"We're working as diligently as we can to get roads to a passable condition to which someone using winter weather driving techniques is able to navigate it," said John Ogan, public information specialist for the Public Works Department.

"We are at the passable stage for priority routes. The rest of the streets need work, and we'll be focusing on that today," Ogan said.

Crews plow a road until it is considered passable by a front-wheel drive vehicle.

Plows have also been applying salt to Missouri roadways. "Right now, at temperatures that low, salt does not have a great impact on roads," Ogan said. However, when the sun comes out and temperatures rise on Friday, Ogan said salt will melt any remaining ice on the roads.

Crews began clearing snow near the city's center and are moving outward, toward the city limits. The approach crews take alternates, so next time there's a snowstorm, crews will begin on the outside of the city and work their ways in.

Jeff Pitts, public information specialist for the Columbia Police Department, offered guidance on how to drive carefully during winter weather for drivers who must go out.

"You obviously want to drive slowly, allow yourself enough time to get to whatever your destination is," Pitts said. "And then if you do have a crash, stay with your vehicle."

In a news release, the city cautioned drivers to be careful on roads, warning that some roads are still slick and snow-covered. The city also warned drivers not to park on roadways and reminded drivers that parking on snow routes is prohibited when there is more than 2 inches of snow accumulation.

City residents are responsible for clearing any obstruction on the sidewalk along their property. The city also asked residents to clear any snow or ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol responded to 127 stranded motorists and 20 non-injury crashes in 13 central Missouri counties between midnight and 3 p.m. Thursday.