Winter in Boston
Tuesday, January 31
Get preparedGet prepared
Take steps before the storm
Winter storms can range from freezing rain and ice to a moderate snowfall over a few hours, to blizzard conditions with blinding wind-driven snow that can last several days.
Please remember to sign up for emergency notifications through AlertBoston and follow instructions from public safety officials.
Prepare your home
- Remove dead or rotting trees or branches around your home that could fall and cause injury or damage.
- Clear clogged rain gutters to allow water to flow away from your home. Melting snow and ice can build up if gutters are clogged with debris.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
Stay safe during extreme cold
- Take caution when using portable heating devices, like space heaters.
- Check on your elderly or disabled neighbors.
- When you're outside, cover exposed skin and watch out for frostbite. In extreme cold, frostbite can happen in under a minute. Wind also increases the risk of frostbite.
- If you have an emergency, please dial 911.
Parking in Snowy Weather
It's important for us to keep main roads clear for plows and emergency vehicles during extreme weather. You will be ticketed and towed if you park on a posted snow emergency artery during a declared snow emergency.
Help us keep streets open to plows and emergency vehicles by parking at least 20 feet away from intersections and no further than 1 foot from the curb. Don’t block sidewalks, fire hydrants, ramps, driveways, or the street with your vehicle.
For your safety, make sure to clear all snow at least one foot around your muffler before starting your engine. Blocked mufflers can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Did you use a trash can, cone, or some other object to save your parking space on the street? Here's what you need to know:
- You can only use a space saver when the City declares a snow emergency.
- You have 48 hours to use a space saver after we end an emergency. After that, you must remove it from the street.
Please keep in mind, space savers are banned in the South End.
Our approach to plowing
We prioritize clearing roads and main routes — such as Blue Hill, Commonwealth, and Hyde Park Avenues — so emergency vehicles can best navigate the City. We anticipate clearing protected bike lanes within 24 hours after the end of the snow fall. If you think your street was missed by a plow, let us know by submitting a request to 311.
Plowing with partners
In Boston and many other cities, local and state governments work together to care for streets. When there’s snow, highways like I-93 are cleared by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Parkways, like the Jamaicaway, Storrow Drive, and Morrissey Boulevard, are cleared by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MassDCR).
2,000 lane miles
of roadway to plow and salt
Up to 700
pieces of plowing equipment
property owners must:
- clear sidewalks within three hours of snowfall ending or three hours after sunrise if it snows overnight, and
- clear at least a 42-inch-wide path for wheelchairs and strollers.
Simply put, we're looking for an accessible path of travel. While the rule is three hours, we try to be reasonable for deciding when we start the clock. Our goal isn't to fine you. We just want people — especially youth and seniors — to be able to get around safely.
We have information on what you can expect to pay in fines each day your sidewalk is unshoveled, or if you shovel snow onto the street. We fine ourselves for City-owned properties too.
Things we could use your help with:
- Don’t shovel or push snow into the street. If you do, the City may fine you.
- Remove ice to bare pavement or make as level as possible and treat with sand, sawdust, or similar material. Every year dozens of people are seriously injured slipping and falling on sidewalks.
- Please clear any snow that may be blocking a handicap ramp, fire hydrant, or storm drain. If a hydrant is buried in snow, it takes the fire department time to find it and shovel it out.
- Don’t leave snow or ice on stairways or fire escapes. All common means of exit must be clear in case of a fire or another emergency.
Winter is a dangerous time for carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the exhaust pipe on your car is clear of snow, as well as your house's heater vent. Never leave a child or pet in a car with the motor running while you shovel outside.
Protect your roof
If you lose power
Please contact your utility company to report any outages. You can also call 3-1-1 with any concerns or questions.
- Eversource: 1-800-592-2000
- National Grid: 1-800-322-3223
- Boston Water and Sewer Commission: 617-989-7000
When the Mayor declares a winter weather emergency, BCYF Community Centers may be made available as warming centers. How many centers we open up depends on the need.
Because the BCYF Warming Center list changes, please call 311 for updates on which centers are open during emergencies.