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Winter in Boston

guide

Winter in Boston

Last updated 11/8/16

Take a look through some of our services and resources so that you’re prepared for this winter. Because, in Boston, winter is always coming.

(Photo by: Dirk Ahlgrim)

Parking bans

Contact: Transportation

During declared snow emergencies, discounted parking is available at some parking lots and garages for Boston residents. We created a list of discounted parking garages and lots you can use.

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.

Snowy street in Boston
You can view a map of streets where you can't park during snow emergencies.
Plow in Boston

Space savers

Did you use a trash can, cone, or some other object to save your parking space on the street?

You can only use a space saver when the City declares a snow emergency, and you must remove it 48 hours after we end the emergency.

Please keep in mind, space savers are banned in the South End.

Plowing

Plowing
Contact: Public Works
Plow my street, please!

We prioritize clearing main routes — like Commonwealth, Hyde Park, and Blue Hill Avenues — so emergency vehicles can get to schools, hospitals, and homes quickly. 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).

Plowing Stats

2,000 lane miles
of roadway to plow and salt

200
plowing routes

Up to 700
pieces of plowing equipment

Shoveling

Contact: Public Works
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.

Do not shovel snow into the street.

Shoveling Fines:

Find out 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.

Rules on clearing snow

Things we could use your help with:
  • 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 catch basin. 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 fire or another emergency.

Report an unshoveled sidewalk

Protect your roof

Consider hiring a professional to remove snow and icicles from your roof. The combination of heights plus ice can make this important task dangerous.

More on Roof Safety

protect-your-roof
Danger zones for potential roof collapse.

Prepare for the cold

Extreme cold
Stay safe during extreme cold

When you know severely cold weather is coming, remember to take steps to prepare. Please also check on your elderly or disabled neighbors, and take caution when using portable heating devices like space heaters.

If you have an emergency situation, please dial 911.

Frostbite and hypothermia
  • Make sure to 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.
  • Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can retain heat. This can create a dangerously low body temperature. 
Carbon monoxide
  • Every year, thousands of people are killed or seriously injured from breathing in carbon monoxide.
  • 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.

More cold weather tips

If you lose power

Reporting Power outages

Please call your utility company to report any outages. You can also call 311 with any concerns or questions.

Eversouce: 1-800-592-2000
National Grid: 1-800-322-3223
Boston Water & Sewer Commission: 617-989-7000

More important numbers

Warming Centers

When the Mayor declares a winter weather emergency, we make BCYF Community Centers 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.

Winter Swimming at BCYF centers

When it’s cold outside, our pools are warm! Come visit one of our 15 indoor pools at our community centers.