Snow Emergency FAQs

Q: What is a Snow Emergency?

A: A Snow Emergency is typically declared after snowfalls of 3” or more, or after an accumulation of 3” or more from several snowfalls. When a snow emergency is declared, which officially goes into effect at 9 p.m., residents are asked to move vehicles and follow specific parking guidelines to allow for efficient snow removal operations. Vehicles in violation of parking restrictions are ticketed and towed.

Visit to learn about the parking regulations.  Check out the Snow Emergency Brochure (PDF) for more details.

Q: Why does the City declare Snow Emergencies?

A: Like other major urban cities, off-street parking is very limited in Saint Paul and a large percentage of residents park their vehicles on the street. For this reason, banning parking on streets during the winter months, like most suburban communities do, is not an option. However, if vehicles are not moved, the streets cannot be adequately plowed. Declaring a Snow Emergency allows the City to coordinate on-street parking which in turn allows plows to effectively clear the streets.

Q: How can I find out if a Snow Emergency has been declared?

A: There are several ways to be notified of a Snow Emergency: Click here to subscribe to receive an email and/or text when a Snow Emergency has been declared.

Q: How does the city announce that a Snow Emergency has been declared?

A: When a Snow Emergency is declared, the city immediately:

  • Updates the message on the Snow Plowing Hotline: 651-266-PLOW (7569)
  • Activates the Snow Emergency alert on the Winter Snow Parking App.
  • Posts an article to the homepage of the website (
  • Sends an email and/or text message to everyone subscribed to the SnowAlert subscription item
  • Updates it’s social media outlets
  • Contacts local media outlets including radio, television and print
  • Broadcasts a Snow Emergency message on the City’s cable TV Channel 18

Q: What time does the Snow Emergency start?

A: Snow Emergencies are often declared earlier in the day or afternoon (typically by 3 p.m.), but the Snow Emergency parking restrictions always begin at 9 p.m. the day it is declared. Plowing on Night Routes begin at 9 p.m. The next day, Day Route plowing begins at 8 a.m. The 9 p.m. start gives the City time to notify residents in enough time to move their vehicle(s).

Q: How long does a Snow Emergency last?

A: Streets are generally plowed within the first 24 hours of a declared emergency. Tagging and Towing continues for 96 hours after the Snow Emergency began at 9 p.m. After the night plow phase and the day plow phase of the snow emergency are complete, follow-up plowing, salting and miscellaneous cleanup follows for as long as is required. Any vehicle parked in an area that has not been plowed full-width is subject to ticketing and towing for 4 days (or 96 hours) after the emergency has been declared at 9 p.m.

Q: Why are there two phases to a Snow Emergency?

A: Having two phases to each Snow Emergency allows residents the ability to continue utilizing on-street parking during snow emergencies (residents may park on “day plow routes” during the night plow phase and vice versa).

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 $600,000 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: Due to the expense and the fact that phone calls did not dramatically reduce the number of tickets and tows issued, the decision was made to discontinue calling households. See above for a full list of other ways to be notified when an Snow Emergency is declared.

Q: I subscribed to receive a text/email when a Snow Emergency is declared, but I am not receiving it. Why?

A: There are a few reasons you may not be receiving the email and/or text message:

  • Your email security settings may be blocking the email notices.
  • Changes may have occurred to your phone service. The most likely explanation involves a change in telephone carriers without a corresponding update provided to the vendor (GovDelivery) who manages the SnowAlert emails and text messages.
  • Your subscription settings may be blocking your ability to receive the message in a timely fashion. Click here to manage your account and review your subscription settings.

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

A: Contact the Street Maintenance Division at 651-266-9700 with any questions regarding the rules for your street, or click here for detailed parking instructions.

Q: Has the city ever considered banning parking on one side of the street during the duration of the snow season?

A: The city has discussed this option several times. However, a one-sided parking ban for the duration of the snow season would greatly and unfairly inconvenience residents who live in those areas of the city which have a high demand for on-street parking.