Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis has ordered the city's public works department to start clearing snow from residential roads as soon as possible due to the significant amount of drifting snow.

Normally crews wait until main roads are cleared before entering residential neighbourhoods.

The city is putting 23 additional pieces of hard equipment, including graders, front-end loaders and plows, from private contractors on the job.

"The problems were’ facing is there is a lot of blowing and drifting going on right now and also the temperatures are down to a point where salt becomes ineffective," said Pete Matheson, a maintenance manager with Windsor's public works department. "There aren’t a lot of times in Windsor where we experience such cold temperatures."

Matheson said he expects residential streets to be cleared by Friday afternoon. He said one pass along every residential street in Windsor is the equivalent to driving from Windsor to Jacksonville, Fla. The total length of Windsor's main thoroughfares would stretch from Windsor to Quebec City.

"When trucks are moving at 40 km/hr it takes quite a while to clear all that snow," Matheson said. "It’s still snowing out there, it’s still blowing out there, so we may have to go in and due these sections a second time."

The city is asking people, wherever possible, to remove vehicles from the street by parking in a driveway or, if available, in a nearby parking lot.

$12,000 an hour for removal

Windsor woke up to snowy streets on the first day of 2014 and it's been snowing ever since.

Keeping roads clean is putting a big dent into the city's snow removal budget.

"We're in a new year now. We've got about three million dollars in the budget," Matheson said. "We'll see how that lasts."

On New Year's Day the city circulated a message to the people of Windsor about its plan for dealing with the heavy snowfall.

"Once the storm has ended the city will decide on the treatment of residential roads, depending on final accumulation. Also we ask residents to keep sidewalks as clear as possible, to ensure anyone walking has a safe journey.  The sidewalk clearing bylaw will come in to effect once the storm has ended."

Matheson said there were 21 large tandem snowplows working around the clock, as well as two smaller trucks. He also said it normally costs $12,000 an hour to clear snow.  However, on Jan.1, extra workers were called in, and everyone was working on a stat holiday. 

Environment Canada says 9.8 cm of snow fell in Windsor on Wednesday. Another 5-10 cm was expected Thursday.

"If this keeps up like this it won't take long to run through the money before the winter ends," he said.