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Snow preparations announced

Residents encouraged to take caution and abide by snow regulations; municipal offices, BCYF and Boston Public Library locations to be open during regular hours

BOSTON - Monday, December 16, 2019 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced preparations ahead of Tuesday's anticipated snowfall, and encourages residents to exercise caution during their commutes. Snow is expected to begin at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, with the heaviest snow falling Tuesday between 6 a.m. and noon, transitioning to rain and sleet in the afternoon, and back to snow in the evening and into Wednesday. Tomorrow morning, snow has the potential to fall at a rate of one inch an hour with total accumulation between 2 to 4 inches. The snow will be followed by bitterly cold weather on Wednesday through Friday, with wind gusts of up to 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service. There is a possibility for potential snow squalls Wednesday afternoon into early evening. Boston could see its coldest air of the season yet with wind chill values as low as 2 degrees Thursday morning. The City is encouraging all commuters to utilize caution when traveling during the Tuesday and Wednesday commutes. 

There is not a parking ban in place at this time, since a snow emergency has not been declared. Boston Public Schools will be open.

Boston City Hall and all City departments and agencies, and the Boston Public Library locations will open during regular business hours. All Boston Centers for Youth & Families Centers (BCYF) sites will be open tomorrow with their normal hours.

"This winter weather is scheduled to impact our commuters the most, so I ask all our residents and workers to be alert and remain cautious as they travel. Our Public Works Department will be working hard to pre-treat and clean our roads during this snowfall, and I thank them for their hard work," said Mayor Walsh. "We are asking residents and businesses to shovel their sidewalks and walkways, and look out for one another to ensure safety for all."

The Public Works Department will have equipment to pre-treat Boston's roads starting at midnight, and will have 500 pieces of equipment on City streets by 5 a.m., working to clean the roads. The Public Works Department currently has 45,000 tons of salt on hand.

When shoveling snow, residents are reminded not to throw snow onto the street, and to shovel out catch basins and fire hydrants. Residents who see homeless and vulnerable individuals out in the cold who appear immobile, disoriented, underdressed for the cold, or in some other form of distress, please call 911.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for emergency notifications through AlertBoston and utilize Boston's 311 call center for non-emergency related issues. To find out more information about resources and services available to residents, please visit

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. Failure to comply can result in a fine issued by PWD's Code Enforcement Division. 

  • Removal of snow, ice from a private property to the street or sidewalk is prohibited and can result in a fine issued by PWD's Code Enforcement Division.

  • Do not throw snow onto the street. Fines associated with improper removal of snow can be found here.

Safety Tips

  • Remember to keep catch basins and fire hydrants clear.  For a map of catch basins and fire hydrants, visit 

  • 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 when you stop exertion.

  • 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 be sure to use their home heating systems wisely and safely, and have a working carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your 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. For example, gas exhaust from heating system or dryer.

  • Please check on neighbors, especially older adults and those with disabilities.

  • 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. 

Preventing Hypothermia and Frostbite

Dress for the weather:

  • 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:

  • These 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. Using faulty or improper heating sources is the number two cause of home fires in Massachusetts.

  • 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 (CO) 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.

Vulnerable Populations

  • If you see homeless and vulnerable individuals out in the cold who appear immobile, disoriented, underdressed for the cold, or in some other form of distress, please call 911.

  • 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. Pine Street Inn's Street Outreach teams were out in mobile vans throughout today, tonight and tomorrow. 

  • While Outreach teams make every effort to assist vulnerable unsheltered persons, please note that during extremely cold weather or winter storms, the 9-1-1 system is the fastest way to dispatch first responders to assist persons at risk.

  • The City 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. In addition to the Pine Street Inn, men can access shelter at the 112 Southampton Street Shelter, and women should go to the Woods-Mullen Shelter at 794 Massachusetts Ave. 

  • Winter overflow beds are open to accommodate persons in need of shelter. Boston Rescue Mission added extra beds for women, the Boston Night Center increased capacity in its overnight drop-in center and the New England Center and Home for Veterans will provide additional overflow to non-veterans in need for the duration of the storm.

  • Day centers for homeless individuals will be available at Rosie's Place, The Women's Lunch Place, St. Francis House, The Cardinal Medeiros Center (for older homeless persons) and Bridge Over Troubled Waters. 

  • The heated structure at Engagement Center on Atkinson Street will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for people looking to come in out of the cold, and the PAATHS programs will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. referring people to substance use treatment.

Emergency Home Repair

  • 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 new 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.

Emergency Operations

  • The City of Boston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) remains in constant contact with the National Weather Service to receive detailed forecasts for the City of Boston. It also ensures each City department has a plan in place to handle the forecast. If the storm warrants, the City's Emergency Operations Center will be activated and City representatives will coordinate response and recovery efforts.

  • Residents who sign up for notifications will receive a message from the City about winter storms and extreme cold weather. This notification system also alerts residents when a snow emergency/parking ban is in effect and when it is being lifted.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for emergency notifications through AlertBoston and utilize the 311 call center for non-emergency related issues. To get news about snow emergencies, parking bans, school delays and cancellations, please visit and follow @CityofBoston on Twitter. 


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