Parking in a Snow Emergency

Parking in a Snow Emergency in Boston and Beyond

Winter weather is a part of living in the Northeast. Blizzards, Nor’easters, La NiƱa — you name it. And if the all-knowing Farmer’s Almanic is to be believed, this year will be no different. We’ve discussed parking issues in our fair city before, but winter can be especially tricky. Do you park on odd or even side of the street? Do you have to move your car within two hours of snowfall even if you’re asleep? And where do you go if your car gets towed in the middle of a blizzard? To answer those questions and more, we’ve put together this handy guide parking in a snow emergency in Boston, Brookline, Somerville, and Cambridge.


Because the city of Boston is divided up into many smaller neighborhoods, each area is a little different when it comes to the rules dictating parking in a snow emergency. Thankfully, the city’s website has its own page dedicated to snow. Literally. Here’s the URL — You can go there to see the status of public schools, trash collection, street cleaning and more.

For parking during a snowstorm, you can check out this handy map and plug in your neighborhood to see what the options are. Many neighborhoods offer discounts for residents to park in garages when a state of emergency is declared. And if you do have the unfortunate luck of getting towed, call 617-635-3900 to find out where your car is.

Parking in a Snow Emergency? Know the rules.

Blizzards are not an uncommon feature of Boston weather. Be prepared by knowing your town’s rules for parking in a snow emergency. (Photo by Jim McDevitt Photographer. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)


About a hundred or so streets in Cambridge have signs reading, “No Parking during Snow Emergency.” So if there’s a snow emergency, and you’re parked on one of these streets, you have to have to move your car. Otherwise, you can get a ticket or possibly have your car towed, depending on the magnitude of the storm.

Some other streets have the same signage, but only on one side of the street. To receive alerts about parking and other city issues, you can sign up for the city’s “Code Red” program through the Cambridge Alert Network. That way, when there is a parking ban, the city will notify you via your chosen method — email, text, or phone announcement.

You can read more about Cambridge’s snow policies here.


While the city’s explanation may be a little convoluted, the thing to know is that this winter, when parking in a snow emergency, you need to park on the even-numbered side of the street. You also need to move your car no longer than four hours after the city declares the snow emergency. (The only exception to this rule is when signs posted explicitly say otherwise.)

Since this obviously limits available parking, certain municipal lots become open to public parking during a storm. Failure to comply with the city’s parking rules can result in a fine of $100 in addition to whatever it costs to get your car out of a tow lot.

Another thing to note about Somerville: Boston’s famous “space-savers” are not allowed. Thinking of using a trash barrel or a chair to keep a space you shoveled out ready for your car when you get home from work? Not in Somerville, buddy.

You can read Somerville’s snow parking rules in full here.


Brookline has the easiest rule to remember for parking in a snow emergency. You can’t. It’s that simple. Once a weather emergency goes into effect, there is no on-street parking anywhere in town. Meters and overnight permits become immediately valid.

If you’re lucky enough to have a permit to park overnight in a town-owned lot, you don’t have to move your car until next occurring morning when the ban is lifted (by 9:00 a.m.).

You can read Brookline’s snow policies in more detail here.

Featured image by woodley wonderworks [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.