How Boston Prepares for a Snowstorm – And What You Can Do

The Boston Department of Public Works loading road salt in preparation of the Blizzard of '13.

The city’s public works department is readying more than 600 pieces of equipment for the upcoming storm, gearing up for what could be the biggest storm Boston has seen in years.

The DPW starts their preparations by pre-treating as many streets as possible, prepping the salters, sanders and plows, and coordinating with the mayor’s office to get residents to keep their cars out of the way. See this video on how they get ready

The mayor is also trying to reduce traffic by urging employers to let employees work from home and requiring only essential city personnel to come in to work. 

Mayor Thomas Menino has already declared a snow emergency starting at noon Friday, meaning you need to move your car off these streets so that DPW vehicles can clear the snow. During declared snow emergencies, discounted parking is available at several parking lots and garages to cars that display Boston resident parking stickers.  

On streets other than major arteries, do not park within 20 feet of an intersection or further than one foot from the curb, as this impedes access for both emergency vehicles and snow plows.


  • Parking space savers must be removed no more than 48 hours after a snow emergency is lifted. The City’s Department of Public Works will remove space savers left out beyond this period.
  • Do not throw snow back into the street. “Throwbacks” force the city to remove snow from the same street twice.
  • Shovel out fire hydrants, catch basins and pedestrian ramps close to your home.
  • Property owners are reminded to shovel snow from sidewalks that abut their homes and businesses and any handicapped ramps close to your homes or business.
  • Do not double-park.
  • Put your trash out early. Trash collection will begin earlier Friday, at 6 a.m., in order to help Public Works crews clear roads later in the day.

During the storm, the DPW will use SnowCOP coordinate its vehicles, to pinpoint DPW vehicles that are stalled for more than 5 minutes, and to see where snow complaints are coming in and compare their locations to the concentrations of snowplows in the area. The DPW may have to temporarily stop their work if the storm gets too intense

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