Frequently Asked Questions About Snow in Providence
What is a snow emergency?
A snow emergency is a pre-determined period of time during which roadways are cleared of passenger traffic and parked cars to enable crews to respond and remove snow. A snow emergency is not issued by the National Weather Service; however winter weather warnings, blizzard warnings, and other winter weather advisories are taken into account when declaring a snow emergency.
What is the City's responsibility during a snow emergency?
The City is responsible for plowing public streets citywide and making them safe and drivable. The City of Providence needs the assistance of every resident and business owner to restore roads and sidewalks to normal passable conditions.
When will the City begin treating and plowing the streets?
The City begins treating streets 2-3 hours before a winter storm begins. Snow plowing usually does not begin until after 2 inches of snow has accumulated.
How does the City decide what streets are plowed first?
The city plows top priority and high-volume roadways first, followed by collector streets and routes leading to schools. Once conditions have been stabilized on first- and second-priority routes, crews will begin to clear local streets. Local streets are not plowed immediately during a snow event. In the event of continual snowfall, it may take longer than normal for plows to reach local streets as first- and second-priority streets will require additional attention. Be assured that once it snows, Providence crews work around the clock until all the roads are safe and drivable.
Why do the City plows push snow into my driveway? Who is responsible for clearing it?
Snowplow operators push snow off roadways in smooth, continuous passes. Toward the end of the snow storm plows begin to widen roadways by pushing snow closer to the curb line and in some cases onto the sidewalk. The snow ends up on the roadway shoulders, in gutters, and sometimes blocking driveways and sidewalks. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this inconvenience. Removing snow from your driveway or property after plows have passed and shoveling to the right side of your driveway as you face the road can help prevent re-shoveling. All residents and businesses are urged not to redeposit snow back onto the street.
I just saw a plow go down my street with the plow up. Why?
Snow plowing usually does not begin until after 2 inches of snow has accumulated. In the early stages trucks will be out spreading salt or sand with their plow blades up. They also may be out of material or experiencing an equipment malfunction and headed back to a maintenance yard for refill or repair. Be assured that once it snows, Providence crews work around the clock until all the roads are safe and drivable.
How long after the storm is over can I expect all streets will be passable?
Every snowfall is different, but the City follows standard snow removal procedures during every snow event. The timing and intensity of the winter storm will determine how quickly the city can clear roads and make them drivable again. Be patient; crews are working hard and will eventually get to your road.
What responsibilities do property owners, businesses, and residents have during and after a snow storm?
Property owners are required to remove snow and ice from sidewalks, catch basins, fire hydrants and pedestrian ramps adjacent to their property. The city can fine property owners who do not clear adjacent sidewalks of snow. This is a public safety issue and is the responsibility of the property owners. (See City Ordinance Sections 23-13 to 23-17)
Check in on relatives, friends, and neighbors who may need assistance preparing for a storm. Consider helping neighbors who may require special assistance, especially the elderly and those with disabilities.
Remain off the roads during a snowstorm unless absolutely necessary. Using alternative transportation during snowstorms reduces the number of vehicles on the road, allowing plows and spreaders more room to operate.
How soon after the snow has stopped should I begin shoveling my driveway?
It depends on the type of snowfall and the temperature. Be cautious when shoveling heavy wet snow as it can lead to injury. When there is a heavy wet snowfall it is best to use a snow blower. If you do not have one, ask a neighbor if you can borrow one.
Removing snow from your driveway or property after plows have passed and shoveling to the right side of your driveway as you face the road can help prevent re-shoveling.
Can I blow, shovel or plow snow onto the street?
No you cannot. Fines can be imposed on any person(s) depositing snow onto any street, highway or public place. (See City Ordinance Sections 23-13 to 23-17).
Who do we call to report a sidewalk that has not been cleared of snow?
Call the Mayor's Center for City Services at (401) 421-CITY (2489).
What if I am not physically capable of clearing my sidewalk?
First ask a relative, friend or neighbor to assist you in clearing your property. Other assistance can be requested by dialing 2-1-1.
Is there a parking ban?
If a parking ban is in effect it will be advertised on television and announced on the City of Providence's website.
How does a parking ban help the City with snow removal operations?
A parking ban allows work crews to salt and plow the roads quickly and safely. Cars that remain parked in violation of a parking ban prevent plow trucks from fully clearing roads and making both lanes clear and drivable following a winter storm event.
I live in a designated on street parking area and the City has issued a parking ban. Where can I park?
Residents who currently hold an on-street parking permit are required to find alternative off-street parking arrangements while a parking ban is in place. During a parking ban, no vehicles are allowed to park on the street. Once the parking ban has been lifted residents may resume parking in their designated permitted areas.
My car was towed during a parking ban. How can I find out where it is?
When a vehicle is towed, the owner of the vehicle should contact the Providence Police Department Central Station at (401) 243-6400 with their vehicle's registration number in order to find out which towing company has their vehicle.
Who should I call if my street hasn't been plowed?
Please call the Mayor's Center for City Services at (401) 421-CITY (2489).
What should I do if my property is damaged by a plow?
In the event your property is damaged by a plow, you can submit a claim with two estimates for the cost of repair through the City Clerk's Office, Providence City Hall Room 311. Forms are available online at www.providenceri.com/city-clerk/claims
How can I get up-to-date information on snow removal operations, i.e. parking ban, school/recreation activity cancellations, RIPTA route scheduling, event cancellations etc. from the City?
Stay tuned at www.providenceri.com or call the Mayor's Center for City Services at (401) 421-CITY (2489).
How else can I prepare for a snow storm?
Drivers are urged to keep fuel tanks filled, make sure windshield wipers are working, and keep the following items in their vehicle: a small shovel, sand or kitty litter for traction, a flashlight with fresh batteries, and a first-aid kit.
During the storm, keep children away from roadways and do not let them play in snow banks made by plows. Should power outages occur, please contact National Grid at 1-800-465-1212. Do not approach any downed utility line. Report downed wires to the Providence Fire Department by calling (401) 274-3344.
Get more Snow Ready Tips here.
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