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Mayor Walsh declares snow emergency, parking ban in effect at 6 p.m.

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Residents urged to take caution and abide by snow regulations. City-sponsored meal distribution sites and some COVID-19 testing sites closed on Thursday.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today declared a snow emergency ahead of the forecasted winter storm. Total snow accumulations may range between 9 to 13 inches, with the potential to up to 15 inches in some areas, and winds as high as 45 mph are expected. Residents are advised that a parking ban is in effect starting at 6 p.m., when vehicles parked on a posted snow emergency artery will start to be towed. The City is urging residents to abide by snow regulations and all commuters to utilize caution when traveling during the Thursday commutes. Dry weather paired with colder temperatures and wind chill are anticipated on Thursday and Friday following the storm.

“Boston hasn’t seen a sizable snowstorm since March of 2019 — over 21 months ago. I am urging everyone to be ready and prepared,” said Mayor Walsh. “I ask all our residents and workers to be alert and remain cautious on our roads and sidewalks. Our Public Works Department (PWD) will be working hard to pre-treat and clean our roads during this snowfall, and I thank them for their hard work. We are asking residents and businesses to do their part by staying safe, shoveling their sidewalks, walkways, catch basins, and fire hydrants, and looking out for one another as neighbors.The City of Boston will continue to share updates throughout the storm.”

  • A snow emergency has been declared. A parking ban is in effect starting today, Wednesday, December 16 at 6 p.m. All vehicles parked on a posted snow emergency artery will be towed beginning at 6:00 p.m. today. Residents can find a list of discounted garages online and begin parking at participating garages starting at 4 p.m. today.
  • Trash and Recycling pick-up is cancelled citywide on Thursday, December 17. Neighborhoods with a Thursday and Friday pick-up schedule will be delayed by one day. Residents are encouraged to download the Trash Day App
  • Starting at midnight, Street Sweeping is cancelled until further notice. 
  • All Boston Public Schools (BPS) school buildings will be closed. All students, including students who were scheduled to report for in-person learning, will attend classes online for a partial day that will end 2.5 hours earlier than the regularly scheduled dismissal time. There will be no in-person learning on Thursday.  
  • As indicated in signage posted in BPS school parking lots, parking is not allowed during snowstorms. Vehicles may be towed if they are parked in BPS parking lots this evening.
  • All BPS meal distribution sites will be open today Wednesday, December 16 until 6:00 p.m. instead of Thursday, December 17. Other meal sites in the City will also be closed on Thursday, December 17. They will be open today to distribute extra meals. Residents are encouraged to check with their meal site for hours. 
  • The City-sponsored mobile COVID-19 testing sites at Washington Park Mall and 1432 Hyde Park Avenue will be closed on Thursday. For other updates on testing site availability and closures, please check hours of operation

Boston City Hall and all City departments will be closed on Thursday, December 17. Boston Public Library locations will be closed, including BPL To Go services. Residents with appointments scheduled on Thursday, December 17 will be contacted by City departments to reschedule. All Boston Centers for Youth & Families are closed and in-person programming is cancelled. 

The Public Works Department will have equipment to pre-treat Boston’s roads prior to the snowfall starting and has the ability to put over 600 pieces of equipment on City streets. The Public Works Department currently has 44,000 tons of salt on hand.

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is in constant contact with the National Weather Service to receive detailed forecasts for the City of Boston and ensure City departments have plans in place to handle the forecast. Residents can sign up to receive AlertBoston notifications by phone, text, or email. Residents can call 311 for non-emergency related issues.

Rules on clearing snow:

  • Property owners must fully clear snow, sleet and ice from sidewalks and curb ramps abutting the property within three hours after the snowfall ends or three hours after sunrise if the snow ends overnight. Curb and pedestrian ramps to the street should be cleared fully and continually over the duration of the storm to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. If a storm will last over an extended period of time, property owners are asked to continually check ramps abutting their property for compliance. 
  • Removal of snow, ice from a private property to the street or sidewalk is prohibited. 
  • Failure to comply with the rules can result in fines issued by PWD's Code Enforcement Division. Fines associated with improper removal of snow can be found here.

Caring for vulnerable populations:

  • If you see homeless and vulnerable individuals out in the cold who appear immobile, disoriented or underdressed for the cold, please call 911.
  • The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) coordinates a city-wide network of emergency shelters, outreach providers, city agencies and first responders to assist those in need of shelter.
  • Boston's emergency shelters are open 24 hours and will accept any person in need. Men can access shelter at the 112 Southampton Street Shelter, and women should go to the Woods-Mullen Shelter at 794 Massachusetts Ave. BPHC and the City work closely with shelter providers in the city to ensure that no client is without shelter, food, resources, and a warm respite from the cold.
  • The City brought over 200 beds for the winter spread throughout sites in Brighton, Mission Hill and downtown. Additionally, the City worked with the State to add additional capacity in locations surrounding and outside of Boston.
  • The BPHC Engagement Center is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In addition to providing an indoor heated space, it offers a range of basic amenities and comfort items, such as clean bathroom facilities, water, coffee, and light snacks.
  • During extreme cold weather, street outreach teams operate with extended hours and provide mobile outreach vans on the streets in the evening and throughout the day.

Safety tips:

  • Keep catch basins and fire hydrants clear. For a map of catch basins and fire hydrants, visit here. You can assist in keeping hydrants clear of snow so the Boston Fire Department can access them quickly in case of emergency.
  • Shoveling snow requires significant exertion; please be cautious and pay attention to symptoms. Stop if you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheaded, nauseous/vomiting. Call 911 if those symptoms do not resolve quickly.
  • Snow piles can make navigating intersections dangerous for walkers and drivers. Please take extra care when turning corners with snow piles that might limit visibility.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning is a concern during winter weather, especially with the use of generators. Residents should use their home heating systems wisely and safely, and have a working carbon monoxide detector on each floor of the home. Call 911 immediately if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Sitting in a car while idling can be deadly if the tailpipe is blocked. Do not let children sit in an idling car while shoveling. Clear any household exhaust pipes of snow like gas exhaust from the heating system or dryer.
  • Have a contractor check the roof to see if snow needs to be removed. If roof snow can be removed from the ground with the use of a snow-rake, do so with caution. Avoid working from ladders and be mindful of slippery surfaces. 

Dress for the weather:

  • Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, residents are required to wear face masks or cloth face coverings in all public places, whether indoors or outdoors, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. 
  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
  • Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens over gloves; layering works for your hands as well.
  • Always wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.  
  • Dress children warmly and set reasonable time limits on outdoor play.
  • Restrict infants' outdoor exposure when it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watch for signs of frostbite:

  • Signs of frostbite include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

Watch for signs of hypothermia:

  • These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 911.

Heating safety:

  • Never try to heat your home using a charcoal or gas grill, the kitchen stove, or other product not specifically designed as a heater. These can cause a fire or produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide very quickly. 
  • Have your heating system cleaned and checked annually.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas produced whenever any fuel is burned. Common sources include oil or gas furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, stoves, and some space heaters. It has no smell, taste, or color. It is a poison and is deadly.

Emergency home repair resources: 

  • Income-eligible homeowners and Boston's residents over age 60 can receive assistance with winter emergencies and repairs, such as fixing storm damage, leaking roofs, furnaces and leaking/frozen pipes. For assistance, residents should call the Mayor's hotline at 311 or the Boston Home Center at 617-635-HOME (4663).   
  • A grant up to $5,000 is available for income eligible homeowners over age 60 to ease unexpected financial burdens caused by an emergency situation with their home.
  • In addition, the Mayor's Seniors Save program helps income eligible Bostonians over the age of 60 replace old, inefficient heating systems with a brand new heating system even before a catastrophic failure occurs during the cold winter months. Older adults can also call 311 or the Boston Home Center at 617-635-HOME (4663) to be connected with a City staffer to provide additional details.   

For more information, please visit the Winter in Boston guide and follow @CityofBoston on Twitter.