Winter Storm Preparedness


Person shoveling snow on the sidewalk

Plan in Advance for Snow Emergency Parking Bans
During substantial winter storms, the City may declare a Snow Emergency and a Parking Ban will go into effect at a specific time.  During a Snow Emergency, parking is prohibited on streets signed No Parking during Snow Emergency and vehicles will be towed.  Visit for a list and map of these streets, as well as information on parking garages that provide free parking during a declared snow emergency.

When a snow emergency is declared, information is available via phone at 617-349-4700, and is posted online as soon as possible at and on 22-CityView.   Sign up to receive snow emergency alerts via a text message to your cell phone or  E-mail at: 

For School Closings, call 617-349-6513 or visit:

Available Off-Street Parking during Declared Snow Emergencies:
Residents are responsible for moving their cars off the streets signed no parking during a declared snow emergency. Finding parking can be difficult. There are several parking facilities that provide free parking when the declared snow emergency is in effect.

If a snow emergency has been announced that will take effect overnight, after 6 p.m. and before 7 a.m.; these parking facilities will be free starting at 6 p.m., rather than at the start of the snow emergency. This program is available to residents only; to use the free parking, your vehicle must have a resident permit.

Galleria Mall. Enter on Cambridgeside place, Between P.F Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory Entrance. Residents of East Cambridge can park for free in the Cambridgeside Galleria Garage when the declared snow emergency is in effect until 2 hours after it is lifted.

First Street Garage. Enter on Spring Street. Parking is free if you have a Cambridge resident parking permit from the time when the declared snow emergency is in effect until 2 hours after it is lifted.

• Green Street Garage, Central Square. Parking is free if you have a Cambridge resident parking permit from the time when the declared snow emergency is in effect until 2 hours after it is lifted.

52 Oxford Garage. This is a Harvard owned and operated garage. When a Snow Emergency is declared it is open to City residents with a resident parking permit on a space available basis for no fee from the time when the declared snow emergency is in effect until one hour after the snow emergency is lifted. Space is limited, and availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. The University reserves the right to cease admittance due to capacity limitations and operation issues

• 65 Waverly Street. This is an MIT owned surface lot at the corner of Sidney, Waverly and Erie adjacent to Fort Washington Park. Parking is free with a resident permit from the start of the snow emergency until 2 hours after it has been lifted.

Plowing Operations
The Department of Public Works will clear streets as soon as possible after a snow storm, starting with major arteries.  Please don’t take it personally if we plow snow back into your driveway, but as we work to make streets passable, it is often unavoidable. Your patience and participation help the City return streets and sidewalks to safe, passable conditions as quickly as possible. 

Ice and Snow-Free Sidewalks are Everyone’s Responsibility
The City clears over 18 miles of sidewalk areas, including those around schools, public buildings, parks, City parking facilities and high volume bus stops.

City Ordinance requires property owners to remove snow from sidewalks next to their property or business within 12 hours of daytime snowfall and before 1 p.m. when it has fallen overnight. They must also remove or melt all ice within 6 hours of the time it forms. There is a $50 fine for each day of non-compliance.  If you are away, it is still your responsibility to ensure that someone clears sidewalks next to your property. 

Remember to: 

  • Shovel sidewalk on all sides of your property, down to bare pavement;
  • Make path wide enough a wheelchair, walker or stroller (at least 3 feet, preferably 4 feet);
  • Clear snow to curb to avoid placing trash and recycling containers behind snow banks;
  • Clear ramps at corners and crosswalks; 
  • Keep street drains clear of snow to avoid ponding and icing at the bottom of ramps;
  • Be mindful of anything—hedges, trees, parked cars— that obstructs pedestrians’ path of travel;
  • Consider helping neighbors who may have difficulty clearing their walk.

Three ways to report a sidewalk that is not shoveled:

All reports will be inspected by the Traffic Dept. or Public Works staff and a ticket will be issued to the property owner if found to be in violation of the Snow Ordinance.

Snow Exemption Program
Low-income homeowners who are elderly or have a disability may qualify for the City's Snow Exemption Program (in which case, the City will clear your sidewalk).  Call the Cambridge Council on Aging at 617-349-6220 (voice) or 617-349-6050 (TTY) to learn more.

For more information, visit

Additional Safety Tips from Cambridge Fire Dept.

  • Help keep your family and neighbors safe by assisting in clearin snow from hydrants.

  • Parking is restricted at all times within 20 feet of an intersection; this is especially important during
    snow conditions.

  • Be aware that Fire, Rescue and EMS vehicles are larger than passenger cars. Leave adequate room for
    passage of Emergency vehicles on all right of ways.

  • Structures with direct vent boilers have exhaust and air intakes that need to be clear of snow to
    prevent possible carbon monoxide issues.

Preventing Ice, Protecting Pedestrians and Local Waterways
For pedestrians, ice can cause dangerous falls and can be worse than snow.  Under City Ordinance, property owners are responsible for both ice and snow.

While rock salt is the most commonly used deicer, if used improperly it can damage water bodies, ground water and vegetation.  Many alternatives and supplements to salt can be found at your local hardware store, including magnesium chloride, potassium acetate, calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) and potassium chloride.  These chemicals tend to be more efficient, thereby reducing the amount needed.  CMA has been identified as the most environmentally benign deicer. 

To minimize harm to human health, wildlife, pets and the environment, including the Charles River and Alewife Brook, follow the strategies below when applying any deicing agents:

  • Remove as much snow and ice as possible before applying deicing chemicals;
  • Know the effective temperatures for each deicer used (many don’t work well below 25F),  and use only enough to break the ice-pavement bond;  Remove slush by shoveling;  
  • Select pellets, which are more effective at penetrating ice than flakes;
  • Apply the least amount necessary to get the job done;
  • Store salt and other products on an impervious surface and in a dry, covered area to prevent ground contamination and stormwater runoff;
  • Do not use sand.  Sand does not melt ice or snow, and it makes hard ice more slippery. Sand also gets into street drains and is expensive to clean up in the spring.

For more ways to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff:


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Visiting City Hall

Cambridge City Hall

795 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge MA, 02139
Ph: 617-349-4000
TTY: 617-349-4242

Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

Richard C. Rossi
City Manager

Lisa C. Peterson
Deputy City Manager