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Snow Emergency FAQs
Q:  What is a Snow Emergency?

A:
  A Snow Emergency is a declaration the city uses after snowfalls of usually 3” or after an accumulation of snowfalls of 3” or more.  Once the declaration has been made, a set of citywide parking rules goes into affect.  These rules allow Public Works crews to effectively and efficiently plow, allowing us to plow full-width while still allowing on-street parking.

For details on Snow Emergencies visit www.stpaul.gov/snow and learn about the parking regulations.

Q:  Why must the city call a snow emergency?

A:
  It allows us to coordinate on-street parking and plowing.  Like other major urban cities on-street parking is in great demand.  Many residents do not have off-street parking available to them and therefore park in the street.  If cars are not moved the streets become impassable for snow plows.  This further creates problems for emergency vehicles and residents alike.  Banning parking on streets during the winter months, like most suburban communities do, is not an option. Snow emergencies are the most effective way to clear streets.

Q: How does the city announce that a snow emergency has been declared?

A:
 When a snow emergency is declared, the city immediately:
• Contacts local television and radio stations with an announcement
• Contacts the local newspapers with an announcement
• Begins broadcasting a Snow Emergency message on the city’s cable TV Channel 18.
• Posts a newsflash on the city’s web page announcing the declaration with links to information about snow emergencies.
• Updates the message on the city’s plowing “hot line” (651) 266-PLOW (7569).

Q: Is there someone who I can call to find out if a snow emergency has been declared?

A:
 You can call one of the following two numbers to find out:
• (651) 266-PLOW (7569) this is the snow plowing “hot line” which provides a recorded message on the status of snow emergencies.
•  (651) 266-9700.  This is the Street Maintenance Division's 24-hour phone number.

Q: What “social media” outlets are available to let me know that a snow emergency has been declared?

A: 
Several social media methods are updated with snow emergency information.
• The city’s Facebook page:  The City of Saint Paul
• The city’s Twitter account:  www.twitter.com/cityofsaintpaul
• The Public Works Twitter account: www.twitter.com/stpaulpublicw

Q: Can I receive a text or email when a snow emergency has been declared?

A:
  Yes!  Sign up for SnowAlert to receive a text message or email when we declare. Visit www.stpaul.gov/snowalert to get signed up.

Q: What time does the snow emergency start?

A:
  Snow emergencies always begin at 9:00 p.m. on the day it is declared.  The next day plowing begins at 8:00 a.m.  The 9:00 p.m. start gives the media and other notification systems time to notify residents allowing them time to move their vehicle.

Q: How long does a Snow Emergency last?

A:
  A snow emergency lasts 96 hours (four days).  Streets are generally plowed within the first 20 hours of a declared emergency but the city’s parking bans stay in affect for 96 hours to give Public Works a chance to go back to streets where vehicles were not moved and tow trucks had not yet arrived.  You may NOT park on any street/block that has not been plowed full width during this time period.

Q:  How much does the city budget for snow emergencies?

A:
  Generally speaking, the city budgets for an average of four snow emergencies per year at an approximate cost of $550,000 per snow emergency.  The budget is established for normal/average snow seasons.

Q:  I used to get a phone call telling me there was a snow emergency, why don’t we get called?

A:
   A decision was made to discontinue its use because it did not dramatically reduce the number of tickets and tows issued.  Since discontinuing the phone call Public Works has brought on-line social media and SnowAlert (the email/text notifications system) that are much less expensive means of communicating.

Q:.  I signed to receive a text/email for snow emergencies previously; why don’t I get those anymore?

A:
  That service is a subscription service. If any changes have occurred to your phone service, problems may arise. The most likely explanation involves a change in telephone carriers without a corresponding update provided to SnowAlert.  Similarly, email notices may be blocked owing to a user’s security settings.  Be sure to occasionally check your subscription information. Visit www.stpaul.gov and click on “E-Subscription” on the right side of the homepage to manage your account.

Q: Is there someone I can talk to find out what the parking rules are for my street?

A:
  Yes, please contact the city’s Street Maintenance Division at (651) 266-9700.  We urge residents to find out where to park before any snow starts falling.  This will help you understand the rules fully and help residents make decisions once the snow has fallen.
  
Q: Why are there two phases to a Snow Emergency?

A:.
   Because residents have a need to continue to use on-street parking during snow emergencies, we have to have a place for people to park.  Dividing the city into two distinct sets of routes allows people to find a place to park their vehicle with some methodology.

Q:.  Has the city ever considered parking on one side of the street only during the snow season?  Why don’t we do that?

A:
  The city has discussed options such as this several times. One-side bans are easy to implement city wide and can be done quickly.  Since parking is in such high demand in some areas and not in others the city chooses to look at problems individually and address accordingly rather than just make a blanket rule that affects everyone whether there is a problem or not. 

 


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