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Snow Emergencies in Madison

How to proceed when a Snow Emergency is declared.


It may be the first, but we doubt it’ll be the last Snow Emergency of the season.

Photo by @izzy.larini

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If you haven’t noticed by the sweet sound of snow plows trolling the streets in the dead of night, we are in the midst of our first Snow Emergency of the season.

If you’re new to the Midwest, it’s not as scary as it sounds, we promise. So let’s break it down; what does a Snow Emergency entail?

What is a Snow Emergency?

When Madison gets three or more inches of snow on our roads, the City must plow all of the residential streets. In order to get this done efficiently, a Snow Emergency is declared. Typically, these last 48 hours but may be extended if heavy snow persists.

How will I know if a Snow Emergency is declared?

The City will always declare a Snow Emergency by 9 p.m. the night before it commences. If you’re more of a 6 o’clock evening news person than a 10 o’clock one, here are some City resources to make sure you don’t miss the announcement:

  • Text | Sign up for text alerts
  • Email | Subscribe to the Declared Snow Emergency email list
  • Hotline | Call (608) 261-9111
  • Socials | Check the City’s Twitter + Facebook winter pages

What do we have to do?

The Streets Division spends the 48 hours of the declared emergency plowing all of the streets in the Snow Emergency Zone. If you park on any streets in this area, you have to follow the alternate side parking rules to make way for the plows during a declared emergency. Anyone parking on streets outside of the Snow Emergency Zone must follow alternate side parking every day, regardless of the weather.

Alternate side parking means that the side of the street we park on depends on the date. Before you go to bed, check if tomorrow’s date is an even number or an odd number. If it’s an even number, park on the side of the street that the even-numbered houses are on and vice versa. (Tomorrow is Dec. 17, so we should all be parked on the odd side of the street tonight.)

Pro tip: Fines for not following alternate side parking go from $20 to $60 during a Declared Snow Emergency, so be sure to stay in the (s)know.