Tips on coping with the stormy days we know are coming very soon

As the holiday season approaches, chances are a winter storm won’t be far behind. Even though Bostonians are no strangers to severe snowstorms and the frustrations they cause, it’s important to bear in mind a few tips, suggestions, and regulations that will help us get through weather-related emergencies in the winter months. If we communicate effectively and work together as neighbors, we’ll minimize the agitation that frequently results from severe snow storms.

Here at City Hall, we operate the Storm Center to keep you up to date. In the event of an emergency, such as a major snowstorm, hurricane, flood or natural disaster, the Storm Center will provide information and service to residents for problems related to the emergency. A knowledgeable team of city departments and utility representatives will handle plow requests, downed trees, power outages, and other problems that can arise.

Residents can sign up for direct notification of snow emergencies, parking bans and school closings through e-mail, text message or both by registering at or by calling 617-635-4500. For school delays and cancellations, turn to your radio, TV, or the city’s website.

During an emergency, being a good neighbor is more important than ever. If you live near a senior citizen or another resident who may need help, do your part by checking in on them and lending a hand by shoveling snow. Seniors and people with heart conditions should not risk injury by doing the shoveling themselves.

When shoveling, remember to clear space by fire hydrants, catch basins, pedestrian ramps, and corners on your street. Look out for neighbors with disabilities and residents in wheelchairs, who require 42-inch wide paths to get around. Sidewalks abutting your residence or business should be passable within three hours after a snowstorm. And while shoveling out cars, piling snow behind or in front of the vehicle or at the edge of the sidewalk—and not into the street—makes traveling much easier for everyone.

Clearing a space for trash and recycling will ensure that it is removed on schedule. However, during a state-declared Snow Emergency, trash and recycling collection service will not occur until the next scheduled trash and/or recycling day.

When a snow emergency is declared, parking restrictions are strictly enforced. Please avoid parking within 20 feet of an intersection, or farther than one foot from a curb. This winter, parking will be allowed on the odd-numbered side of the street during a storm. If parking in a driveway, pull vehicles into the space as far as possible—cars that stick out at the end of driveways make clearing the streets more difficult for plows. Since parking is difficult during a snow storm, several lots and garages offer discounted parking during declared snow emergencies for vehicles with Boston resident parking stickers.

As visibility declines during a storm, it’s even more important to watch for young children who may be waiting on the street for the school bus. And when traffic lights aren’t functioning properly, treat them as stop signs and proceed cautiously.

If you experience any problems this winter, such as a cold home, we are here to help. Landlords must legally keep units heated to a minimum of 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees overnight. If, as a tenant, you’ve alerted your landlord about insufficient heat but haven’t received a response, call the Inspectional Services Department at 617-635-5300 or, after business hours, 617-635-4500.

While we prepare for the winter season, residents who visit the city’s website will find a number of resources related to storms. By signing up for emergency notifications and becoming familiar with snow removal and parking regulations, we’ll be ready when the first flakes of the next storm hit the ground. If we work together as a city, we’ll keep things running smoothly during the winter months.