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Iowa City's Snow Emergency Ordinance

Snow Emergency Ordinance

Iowa City's snow emergency ordinance is designed to limit on-street parking during a snow emergency to allow plows to access and clear the entire street during extreme winter storms.

This policy has major effects on those who park their vehicles on the streets of Iowa City outside of the Central Business District.

Please pay attention to these policies to avoid ticketing and towing of your vehicle. Vehicles found in violation will incur a $50 fine per incident, plus towing/storage fees.

Snow Plow

There has been a change to the snow emergency phone number. Please call 319-356-5000 to check the status of snow emergencies in Iowa City.


Spotlight Interview

Carol Sweeting and Brian Michel speak about how the Iowa City Snow Emergency program works.

Watch the interview »


Want to know when snow plows will get to your street? Check out the Iowa City Snow Route map.

When will a snow emergency be declared?

  • When weather and road conditions merit, the City Manager’s office will declare a snow emergency in Iowa City.
  • There will be a minimum of four (4) hours notice before enforcement begins.
  • If declared after 8 p.m., the snow emergency will go into effect at 8 a.m. the following day.
  • Time and day for both beginning and end of the snow emergency will be included in the initial declaration. The minimum duration will be 48 hours; however, the ending time and date can be amended if necessary due of weather conditions.
  • The transition time between the first and second day of a snow emergency is from 12 midnight until 8 a.m. Enforcement of the second day of a snow emergency does not begin until 8 a.m.

How can I find out if a snow emergency has been declared?

  • Go to the www.icgov.org home page – an alert will be posted during snow emergencies.
  • Follow us on the City's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CityofIowaCity.
  • Follow us on Twitter: @CityofIowaCity or @ICSnowEmergency.
  • Subscribe to email or text alerts for snow emergencies at www.icgov.org/subscribe.
  • Call 319-356-5000, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Do not call 911, the Police Department or Streets Division, in order to keep their phone lines available for emergency calls.
  • Tune in to local/regional news media, including the City's Cable Channel 4
  • Signs will be posted at the major entrances to Iowa City and on the doors of City Hall.

"Alternate side of street" parking during a snow emergency

During a snow emergency, streets that normally permit parking on both sides of the street will be subject to "alternate side of the street" parking. On odd-numbered days of the month, parking is permitted only on the odd-numbered side of the street. Likewise, parking is permitted only on the even-numbered side of the street on even-numbered days.

On all streets where parking is allowed on one side only, if the permitted side (where parking is allowed) is even numbered, vehicles can park on that side only on even-numbered days. If the permitted side (where parking is allowed) is odd-numbered, vehicles can park on that side only on odd-numbered days. No parking is ever allowed on the side of the street where parking is prohibited by posted sign.

The transition time between the first and second day of a snow emergency is from 12 midnight until 8 a.m. Enforcement of the second snow emergency day does not begin until 8 a.m.

All other posted parking regulations and prohibitions remain in effect. Posted parking restrictions (such as "No Parking Anytime" or "No Parking Corner to Here" signs) always overrule snow emergency regulations. All other restrictions still apply - parked vehicles cannot block sidewalks, crosswalks or driveways; or be within ten (10) feet of stop signs or within five (5) feet of fire hydrants.

Vehicles in violation of these snow emergency regulations can be ticketed and towed. The ticket fee is $50 per violation, plus towing/storage fees.


What to do in a snow emergency
for specific parking situations in Iowa City
Remember: Posted parking prohibitions always overrule snow emergency regulations.

SignType of prohibition

During snow emergency

Please note
No Parking Tues, Thurs, Sat 8 - 5

Odd/even parking

Follow normal practice of odd/even parking• During a declared snow emergency, the normal evening and Sunday exceptions do not apply. Park on even-numbered side on even dates; odd-numbered side on odd dates.
No Parking Any TimeNo parking on one side of streetObey signage—
snow emergency does not overrule posted restriction
• Never park on prohibited side.
• If permitted side is even-numbered, parking is allowed on even dates; if odd-numbered, parking is  allowed on odd dates.
No Parking 8 - 5 Mon - FriNo parking
8 a.m.-5 p.m., M-F
Obey signage—
snow emergency does not overrule posted restriction
• On weekends, the snow ordinance prevails. Park on even-numbered side on even dates; odd-numbered side on odd dates.
No prohibitionAlternate “side of street” parking• Park on even-numbered side on even dates; odd-numbered side on odd dates.


Have a plan

Know before the snow where you will park
The number of on-street parking spaces will be very limited during a snow emergency. You should plan ahead where you will move your car. Your best option is to move your car to an off-street parking space. If you cannot do this on private property, the following public parking options are available:

  • Dubuque Street Ramp (220 S. Dubuque Street)
  • Capitol Street Ramp (Burlington and Capitol Streets)
  • Tower Place and Parking (Iowa Avenue and Gilbert Streets)
  • Chauncey Swan Ramp (on Washington Street across from City Hall). Access lower level from Washington Street, upper levels from College Street bridge
  • Court Street Transportation Center Ramp (Dubuque and Court Streets)

For overnight parking, there will be no charge for cars that exit between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Cars leaving after 7 a.m. will be charged the normal rate for the full duration of the stay.

Overnight parking is also available in parking lots of all City parks during a declared snow emergency. This parking is limited to a maximum of 48 hours.

View map of parking ramp locations

What are the penalties if I don’t follow the snow emergency parking rules?

There will be no warning tickets given. Cars will be ticketed and towed.

What do I do if my vehicle has been towed?

If your vehicle is towed during a snow emergency, call the Parking Department at 319-356-5096 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. After hours, between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., call the Police Department's routine line at 319-356-5275. Do not call 911. Be prepared to provide your vehicle information and license plate number to find out if your vehicle is on the impound list. If your vehicle has been towed, in order to recover it you will need to show an ID and pay for all unpaid City of Iowa City citations in cash. After payment is made, you will be given instructions on how to reclaim your vehicle. Towing charges and any vehicle impound storage fees will also need to be paid. These are the responsibility of the vehicle owner. 

Who will not be affected by the new Snow Emergency policies?

  • The downtown Central Business District (area bounded by Iowa Avenue, Gilbert Street, Burlington Street and Capitol Street) is not affected by these new parking rules. Existing parking restrictions will remain in effect.
  • The snow emergency does not affect metered parking spaces or loading zones.


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