Snow Streets and Snow Emergencies – What You Should Know

Each winter circumstances arise that require the City to declare a snow emergency.  Residents and visitors may wonder what a snow emergency is, what a snow street is, how those streets are identified, and how you may stay up-to-date when a snow emergency is declared.

So, why and how are snow streets determined?

The City’s approach to snow removal is a process that prioritizes safety and mobility.  Snowplow drivers prioritize the major streets first – largely based on traffic volume, then onto snow streets, and then side streets.  The designation of certain streets as “snow streets” has been around since about the 1970’s.  There are various criteria that results in a street being designated as a snow street, but generally, these are the more heavily traveled roadways that connect major areas of town and/or a narrow street with a history of being challenging to clear.  Most important, however, is the street must also allow for parking because a snow emergency within Bowling Green is a temporary ban of on-street parking along the designated snow street.  For example, Pearl Street is a heavily traveled road, but it is not a snow street—and that is because parking is not allowed on Pearl Street.  Additionally, all cul-de-sacs are snow streets.  The complete list of designated snow streets is on the City’s webpage and is reviewed annually.  Changes are not often made to encourage consistency and routine, but as new subdivisions are added or other challenges revealed, the list is subject to amending and will be published in the paper, listed on the website, and appropriately signed.  Note that all snow streets have signage indicating that parked cars must be removed when snowfall reaches 2-inches and above.

An established listing of policies and procedures of how the community operates in a snow event is published annually along with the listing of snow streets.   These policies and procedures are also listed prominently on the City’s website during winter months.  Additionally, as a predicted storm approaches, the City ramps up its communication efforts to prepare the community of a potential snow emergency declaration.  This is done through the free weekly eNews, social media accounts, and traditional press releases to local media outlets.  Residents are highly encouraged to also sign up for the free CodeRED community alert notification system.  CodeRED will call and/or text those who sign up for this free service as soon as the City declares a snow emergency.

A snow emergency in the City of Bowling Green may be declared if 2 inches of snow accumulates.  If a snow emergency is declared between the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 pm, vehicles parked on a snow street must be removed within two hours of the declaration. If a snow emergency is declared overnight, vehicles must be removed by 9:00 am. Vehicles parked in violation of snow regulations are subject to being towed at the owner’s expense and a citation may be issued.  Safety concerns and the ability to completely clear the road are the primary reasons for requiring vehicles to be moved during a snow emergency.  Plowing around parked cars leaves the roadway with accumulated snow that can become a safety concern for the traveling public, could adversely affect safety forces ability to respond in case of an emergency, and could also negatively affect storm drains.

Ok, so how do I stay informed?

Once declared, the City notifies local media, updates the City’s website, posts the snow emergency declaration to the City’s Facebook and Twitter page, and pushes out a message via the CodeRED community alert system.  Again, this is a free service and allows for the City to notify those signed up directly when a snow emergency is declared.  Residents are highly encouraged to sign up for this free alert system.