Residents urged to take caution and abide by snow regulations; some COVID-19 testing sites to close

Boston Public School buildings to close tomorrow and Tuesday; students will attend classes online with an early dismissal each day

BOSTON – Sunday, January 31, 2021 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today declared a snow emergency ahead of the forecasted winter storm that is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning and end Tuesday afternoon. Total snow accumulations are expected to range between 8 to 12 inches, and winds as high as 45 mph are expected. Residents are advised that a parking ban will take effect starting at noon tomorrow, when vehicles parked on major roads and main arteries will start to be towed.  The City is urging residents to abide by snow regulations and encouraging all commuters to use caution when traveling during the Monday evening and Tuesday morning commutes. Dry weather, paired with colder temperatures and wind chill, are anticipated on Wednesday and Thursday following the storm.

“I am urging everyone to be ready and prepared for tomorrow’s forecasted snowstorm,” said Mayor Walsh. “All of our residents and workers should take precautions on our roads and sidewalks, particularly during the Monday evening and Tuesday morning commutes. Our Public Works Department will be working around the clock to pre-treat and clean our roads, and I thank them for their hard work. We are asking residents and businesses to do their part by staying safe, shoveling their sidewalks and walkways, clearing catch basins and the area around fire hydrants, and by offering help to your older neighbors and residents with disabilities. The City of Boston will continue to share updates throughout the storm.”

A snow emergency has been declared, starting Monday, February 1, 2021 at noon. A parking ban will also take effect at noon tomorrow. All vehicles parked on a posted snow emergency artery will be towed beginning at noon on Monday. Residents can find a list of free and discounted garages here; and parking at participating garages will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday. 

Trash and recycling pick-up will continue on a regular schedule on Monday, February 1st and Tuesday, February 2nd. Residents are encouraged to download the Trash Day App for more information on their trash and recycling pick-up schedule. 

Nighttime street sweeping on main roads, arterials, and commercial roads is canceled until further notice. Updates will be provided on when nighttime street sweeping is scheduled to resume.

All Boston Public Schools (BPS) students, including students who were scheduled to report for in-person learning, will attend classes online on both Monday and Tuesday for a partial day that will end 2.5 hours earlier than the regularly scheduled dismissal time. There will be no in-person learning on Monday and Tuesday, and all BPS buildings will be closed on those days.

In-person learning will resume on Thursday, February 4, 2021.

As indicated in signage posted in BPS school parking lots, parking is not allowed in these lots during snowstorms. Vehicles may be towed if they are parked in BPS parking lots during the snow emergency.

BPS meal distribution sites will be open on Monday, February 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. All Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BYCF) meal sites will be closed on Monday. Residents are encouraged to check with their non-BPS meal sites for hours.

The City-sponsored mobile COVID-19 testing site at the Anna M. Cole Community Center in Jamaica Plain will be closed on Monday. For other updates on testing site availability and closures, please check hours of operation here

The City-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College is opening as scheduled on Monday, February 1st and Tuesday, February 2nd for people with appointments.

Boston City Hall will be open to the public on Monday, February 1st only for residents who need to pay their property taxes or file an abatement application by the February 1st deadline. Boston City Hall and all City departments will be open to the public on Tuesday, February 2nd. We encourage residents to utilize our online services when possible. Boston Public Library locations will be closed on Monday, including in-person BPL To Go services. All BCYF community centers will be closed, remote programming will continue and registered lap swim sessions will be cancelled from 12 p.m. on.

The Public Works Department (PWD) will have equipment to pre-treat Boston’s roads prior to the snowfall starting, and the City has the ability to put over 700 pieces of equipment on city streets. The PWD currently has 42,000 tons of salt on hand.

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is in constant contact with the National Weather Service to receive detailed forecast updates for the City of Boston and to ensure City departments have plans in place to handle the weather. Residents can sign up to receive AlertBoston notifications by phone, text, or email. Residents can call 311 for non-emergency issues.

Rules on clearing snow:

Property owners must fully clear snow, sleet and ice from sidewalks and curb ramps abutting the property within three hours after the snowfall ends, or three hours after sunrise if the snow ends overnight. Curb and pedestrian ramps to the street should be cleared fully and continually over the duration of the storm to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. If the storm lasts for an extended period of time, property owners are asked to continually check and clear ramps abutting their property.

Removal of snow and ice from a private property to the street or sidewalk is prohibited.

Failure to comply with these rules can result in fines issued by PWD’s Code Enforcement Division. Fines associated with improper removal of snow can be found here.

Caring for vulnerable populations:

If you see homeless or vulnerable individuals out in the cold who appear immobile, disoriented or underdressed for the weather, please call 911.

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) coordinates a city-wide network of emergency shelters, outreach providers, city agencies and first responders to assist those in need of shelter.

Boston’s emergency shelters are open 24-hours a day and will accept any person in need. Men can access shelter at the  112 Southampton Street Shelter, and women should go to the Woods-Mullen Shelter at 794 Massachusetts Ave. BPHC and the City work closely with shelter providers to ensure that no client is without shelter, food, resources, and a warm respite from the cold.

The City has over 200 beds for the winter spread throughout sites in Brighton, Mission Hill and downtown. Additionally, the City worked with the Commonwealth to add additional shelter capacity in locations surrounding and outside of Boston.

The BPHC Engagement Center is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In addition to providing an indoor heated space, it offers a range of basic amenities and comfort items, such as clean bathroom facilities, water, coffee, and light snacks.

During extreme cold weather, street outreach teams operate with extended hours and provide mobile outreach vans on the streets in the evening and throughout the day.

Safety tips:

Keep catch basins and fire hydrants clear. For a map of catch basins and fire hydrants, visit here. You can assist in keeping hydrants clear of snow so the Boston Fire Department can access them quickly in case of emergency.
Shoveling snow requires significant exertion; please be cautious and pay attention to signs of overexertion. Stop if you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheaded, nausea, or vomiting. Call 911 if those symptoms do not resolve quickly.

Snow piles can make navigating intersections dangerous for pedestrians and drivers. Please take extra care when turning corners with snow piles that might limit visibility.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a concern during winter weather, especially with the use of generators. Residents should use their home heating systems wisely and safely, and have a working carbon monoxide detector on each floor of the home. Call 911 immediately if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.

Sitting in a car while idling can be deadly if the tailpipe is blocked. Do not let children sit in an idling car while shoveling. Clear any household exhaust pipes (e.g. gas exhaust for heating systems or dryers) and vehicle exhaust pipes of snow.

Have a contractor check the roof to see if snow needs to be removed. If roof snow can be removed from the ground with the use of a snow-rake, do so with caution. Avoid working from ladders, and be mindful of slippery surfaces.

Dress for the weather:

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, residents are required to wear face masks or cloth face coverings in all public places, whether indoors or outdoors, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.

Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.

Wear mittens over gloves; layering works for your hands as well.

Always wear a hat, and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

Dress children warmly, and set reasonable time limits on outdoor play.

Restrict infants’ outdoor exposure when it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watch for signs of frostbite:

Signs of frostbite include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

Watch for signs of hypothermia:

These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 911.

Heating safety:

Never try to heat your home using a charcoal or gas grill, the kitchen stove, or other product not specifically designed as a heater. These can cause a fire or produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide very quickly.
Have your heating system cleaned and checked annually.

Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas produced whenever any fuel is burned. Common sources include oil or gas furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, stoves, and some space heaters. It has no smell, taste, or color, and it is poisonous and potentially deadly.

Emergency home repair resources:
Income-eligible homeowners and Boston’s residents over age 60 can receive assistance with winter emergencies and repairs, such as fixing storm damage, leaking roofs, furnaces and leaking/frozen pipes. For assistance, residents should call the Mayor’s hotline at 311 or the Boston Home Center at 617-635-HOME (4663).

In addition, the Mayor’s Seniors Save program helps income eligible Bostonians over the age of 60 replace old, inefficient heating systems with a brand new heating system before a catastrophic failure occurs during the cold winter months. Older adults can also call 311 or the Boston Home Center at 617-635-HOME (4663) to be connected with a City staffer to provide additional details.

For more information, please visit the Winter in Boston guide and follow @CityofBoston on Twitter.

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