Skip to content.
HomeE-ServicesCity GovernmentLiving & WorkingDoing Business
You Are Here: Home > City Government > Departments & Divisions > Public Works & Parks > Seasonal Information > Snow Emergency Guidelines

Snow Emergency Guidelines

Winter Guidelines (07:31)

Winter storms can be trying for all of us, motorists, residents and snowplow operators alike. Our goal of keeping streets open, essential traffic moving and returning streets to safe, travelable conditions quickly can only be accomplished with your help. This page has been prepared to make you aware of our Snow and Ice Plan and how you can help us achieve the plan's objectives. Working together, we will be able to provide the important services of our winter maintenance program - KEEPING STREETS OPEN, ESSENTIAL TRAFFIC MOVING, AND RETURNING STREETS TO SAFE TRAVELABLE CONDITIONS QUICKLY. I hope you find this page helpful. Your support and cooperation is essential and greatly appreciated.

Commissioner of Public Works

Winter Parking Ban

Public streets fall under two categories, PERMANENT and DECLARED.

  • A PERMANENT BAN will remain in effect on Emergency Arteries, WRTA Bus Routes and streets that are critical to the flow of traffic. The permanent ban means that from December 1st through April 30th there is no parking on one or both sides of the street between 2:00 AM and 6:00 AM and also when a snow emergency is declared, anytime day or night.
  • A DECLARED BAN will be in effect on all remaining city streets. The declared ban means that parking is allowed on both sides of the street until the winter parking ban is put into effect. You can expect the winter parking ban to go into effect whenever inclement weather is forecasted.
  • If you are unsure about whether your street has a PERMANENT or DECLARED ban call (508) 929-1300 or see our Winter Parking Ban Street Search.
  • (508) 929-1300 is also the official source for up-to-date information on: whether the winter parking ban is in effect, parking regulations on your street or snow complaints. Other sources are the Government Channel, local radio stations and the DPW home page.
  • Sign up for Alert Notifications via Twitter or email, or call (508) 929-1300.

Illegally Parked Vehicles

Illegally parked vehicles are the biggest obstacle to effective snow removal efforts. Vehicles that violate the winter parking ban or otherwise hinder snow removal will be ticketed and towed at the owner's expense. Please support our efforts by parking your vehicle in conformance with the winter parking ban.

Snow Plowing

The following is a general description of how the Department of Public Works plows snow from City streets:

Step 1 - When a snow storm begins, the DPW responds by salting the main roads and bus routes. Salting these roadways serves two purposes: to keep traffic moving, and to prevent the snow from bonding to the pavement.

Step 2 - Snow plowing begins when snow accumulates two (2) inches, or forecasts indicate that it will. Over 350 city and private plows can be called out and assigned to plow pre-determined routes. The City's policy is to plow the full width of the street, curb to curb, during each storm.

Step 3 - Once snowfall has stopped and plowing is winding down, salt trucks begin post-storm salting.

  • Main streets and bus routes are salted to achieve bare pavement conditions.
  • Residential streets with hills are sanded to improve traction.
  • Flat streets are sanded only if icy conditions exist.


Property owners or occupants are responsible for keeping the sidewalk in front of and adjacent to their property clear of snow and ice. Worcester's ordinance states that:

  • Sidewalks must be cleared with a four (4) foot wide path for safe pedestrian travel within ten (10) hours after snow ceases to fall.
  • There will be a fine for those who do not adhere to the city ordinance for snow and ice removal.

Please cooperate so that school children and other pedestrians will be able to safely use the public walkways and avoid having to walk into the street.

Assistance for Seniors & the Disabled

Seniors and the disabled can call the Customer Service Center at (508) 929-1300 for a list of agencies and phone numbers who may be able to assist in snow removal.


While we try to minimize the amount of snow that gets plowed into driveways it is unavoidable. Clearing driveway openings is the responsibility of the property owner.

  • Plow blades cannot be lifted as they pass by a driveway.
  • Snow will be plowed into driveways as we perform curb-to-curb plowing.
  • You may wish to clear your driveway several times during the storm or wait until the storm and plowing activities have ended.
  • Shoveling, plowing or snow blowing snow back into the street when clearing driveways and sidewalks is prohibited by city ordinance. Violators will be fined.

Winter Sand

Winter Sand is available to all City residents free of charge at the following four locations:


There are over 6,000 fire hydrants in Worcester. Please help us by shoveling around the hydrant near your home. Please ask us about the Adopt-a-Hydrant Program for more information.


Plowing snow from Worcester's 500 miles of public and private streets is a formidable task. It involves coordinating hundreds of private and publicly owned plows, mechanics, customer service operators, and route supervisors to inspect and control plowing activities and other support personnel. The hours can be extraordinarily long, with operations conducted during the most severe weather and driving conditions. We realize that in an operation of such size and complexity there are bound to be complaints or requests for additional service.

DPW has established a computer-based system to respond to complaints. Calls for service should be avoided early in a storm since it may take several hours for plows to make their way to your street. If you believe that a request for service is warranted and sufficient time has elapsed for us to have responded, please call our snow complaint telephone number at (508) 929-1300.

This number is staffed by trained customer service representatives who will log your complaint and relay this information to our field supervisors for quick resolution.

Please understand that calling (508) 929-1300
is the FASTEST WAY to get a complaint resolved.

Remember, driving in winter snowstorms should be avoided whenever possible. In every winter storm, there are times when road conditions are hazardous despite everyone's best efforts. Our work to restore safe road conditions is completed quicker and more efficiently when roads are free of traffic and illegally parked vehicles.

Important Telephone Numbers

Customer Service
All Divisions & Emergency (24 hours) (508) 929-1300
  • Abandoned Vehicles
  • Recycling & Trash Collection
  • Snow & Ice
  • Street Lights Out
  • Traffic Lights Out
  • Traffic Stop Signs
Police/Fire Emergency 911
Non-Emergency Police (508) 799-8606
Non-Emergency Fire (508) 799-1816
No Heat/Frozen Pipes (508) 929-1300
Utility Companies
National Grid 1-800-322-3223
Eversource Gas 1-800-592-2000
Verizon 1-800-870-9999
Charter Communications 1-800-634-1008
Vehicles Towed (508) 799-8606
Parking Administration (508) 799-8656
Forestry (508) 799-1300
WRTA - Buses/Public Transportation (508) 791-9782
Pothole Repair Hotline (508) 754-9696
Elder Affairs (508) 799-1232
City Government
© 2017 | Copyright City of Worcester, MA | All Rights Reserved. | Login | Disclaimer | Site Map