For the first time — ever — the city of Duluth has declared a snow emergency.
The wintertime rite, so familiar in the Twin Cities and so often blithely ignored by vehicle owners, was introduced in one of the state’s snowiest cities at 1 p.m. Tuesday and slated to run until 6 p.m. Wednesday.
That is, unless the city’s second-ever snow emergency is declared.
In case you missed it, it’s been snowing in Duluth — averaging just over 8 inches between Saturday night and Tuesday afternoon.
Under the new edict, residents were supposed to move their vehicles off snow emergency routes by 9 p.m. Tuesday. After that, any vehicle that remained parked along Duluth’s 120 miles of snow emergency routes could be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.
In the meantime, the city advised residents and visitors to park on residential streets not designated as snow emergency routes. Alternate parking is allowed on the odd side of the street this week, according to a city news release.
Duluth city officials decided to get serious about the concept of the snow emergency only in 2019, when a Thanksgiving weekend blizzard socked the city with 22 inches of snow. But when the snow emergency plan was announced, it landed with a thud in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Residents complained that the temporary emergency lots — available on a first-come, first-served basis — weren’t convenient. Some people with disabilities were alarmed at the prospect of having to move their cars during a snowy onslaught.
City spokeswoman Kate Van Daele said the seven emergency parking lots are spread across Duluth. She added that authorities ticketing and towing vehicles won’t target residents with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) parking spots and window stickers during a snow emergency.
“People have been really great. We got a lot of feedback and it was really helpful,” she said.
Duluth officials will inform residents of a snow emergency through a Northland Alert message (sign up at duluthmn.gov/northlandalert), local media, social media and the city’s website.