The key to dealing with snow removal? Patience.

Montreal snow removal crews are working to collect the tonnes of snow that blanketed the city as of Tuesday, causing schools to close, flights to be grounded and many to just stay home.

The operation could take some time – Mother Nature dumped 40 centimetres of snow on the city, and it all has to be removed from 10,000 kilometres of streets and sidewalks.

Officials say it will take at least a week to haul all that snow away, and it hopes Montrealers will understand the momentous task takes time.

The work has already begun: Overall, 8 per cent of the roads in Montreal have been cleared, with main arteries and sidewalks being the initial priority.

"We will continue to work on the sidewalks. Some of them are in very good condition, but on some little streets, we still have sidewalks to clean. So we will do that," said City of Montreal spokesperson Philippe Sabourin. "At the same time, we will take off the snow and to do that we will need at least a week.”

The fastest borough so far has been Outremont, with 28 per cent of snow on its territory removed, while Saint-Laurent lags at only 3 per cent. See real-time updates here and view the map to see which streets have been cleared.

It's worth noting that Ste. Catherine St. will also be cleared for the throngs of people expected for the St. Patrick's Parade on Sunday.

As always, drivers are going to have a tough time parking the next few days, and are urged to be vigilant by checking the snow removal signs before parking their vehicle.

Over 5,000 vehicles are towed per year as a result of snow removal. Several free parking lots have been made available for residents who use street parking. Find one in your area here.

Remember to use caution when removing snow from your car (if you haven't done it yet) --  four Montrealers were rushed to hospital this week after being found unconscious in their cars.

In each case, the people were sitting inside a car partially buried in snow with the engine running.

The city has also offered these tips to make life a little easier over the next few days for work crews and commuters alike:

  • Avoid driving during rush hour.
  • Use public transportation.
  • Carpool.
  • On the street, parking 30 cm away from sidewalks makes it easier for snow removal vehicles to get around.
  • SUV owners with oversized rear-view mirrors need to be especially careful.
  • Avoid parking your vehicle at an angle. In addition to blocking emergency vehicles, this increases the number of vehicles towed and slows down snow removal operations.
  • Avoid parking in the street so that snow removal operations can be carried out efficiently.
  • Carefully remove snow from the roof of your car, if necessary.

These tips from the city are also handy for those digging out around their homes

  • Make sure children know to make sure they are visible along streets and alleyways.
  • During snowstorms, if possible, wait for the next collection to place your bin on the curbside.
  • Don’t shovel snow from your front walk onto roads, sidewalks or curbs – you risk being fined. 
  • Don’t pile shovelled snow near fire hydrants.
  • Make sure front walks and balconies are cleared so that you can access them in emergencies.