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 Iowa City streets outside of the Central Business District located in the Downtown area.

Pay attention to these policies to avoid the inconvenience and expense of tickets and towing. Vehicles found in violation will incur a $50 fine per incident, plus the cost of towing and storage. 

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

Select a question below to be directed to the section on this page: 


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 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 to weather conditions.
  • The transition time between the first and second day of a snow emergency is from 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?

Do not call 911, the Iowa City Police Department or Streets Division to find out if a snow emergency has been declared. Those phone lines need to remain open for emergency calls.

Use the resources listed below: 

  • Visit www.icgov.org and look for an alert on the homepage 
  • Follow the City's Facebook page
  • Follow the City's Twitter page, @CityofIowaCity
  • Subscribe to email and text alerts for snow emergencies at www.icgov.org/e-subscriptions. Select snow alert. 
  • Call 319-356-5000, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. An automated message will indicate when a snow emergency has been declared. 
  • 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.

How is street parking impacted during a snow emergency?

Street parking is heavily impacted during snow emergencies.

Drivers must follow the parking rules during a snow emergency or they will be ticketed and towed and responsible for the associated fees that come with it.  

When a snow emergency is called, pay attention to whether or not it's an odd or even date, and only park on the side of the street that corresponds with that odd or even date. 

Streets that allow parking on both sides 

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. Meaning you can only park on one side. 

If the snow emergency is declared on an odd-numbered day of the month, parking is permitted only on the odd-numbered side of the street. If the snow emergency is declared on an even-numbered day of the month, parking is permitted only on the even-numbered side of the street

  • Example: If a snow emergency is declared on Dec. 1, vehicles should park on the side of the street with odd numbered address like 111 First St. If it's December 2, park on the side with even addresses like 222 First St. 

Streets that allow parking on one side 

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

  • Example: If a snow emergency is declared on Dec. 1, but the street only allows parking on the side with even-number addresses you cannot park there. 

Streets that do not allow any parking 

No parking is ever allowed where a "No Parking" sign is displayed, even during a snow emergency. 

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.


Are permanent parking signs enforceable during a snow emergency? 

All other posted parking regulations and prohibitions remain in effect. Posted parking prohibitions always overrule snow emergency regulations.

Posted parking restrictions like "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 10 feet of stop signs or within 5 feet of fire hydrants.

  • "No Parking odd/even Calendar Dates" sign
    • During a snow emergency, obey the signage. 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 P
    arking" sign
    • Do not park where a "No Parking" sign is posted 
    • During a snow emergency, obey all signage.
    • A snow emergency does not overrule posted restriction. 
    •  
  •  "No Parking 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday" sign
    • During a snow emergency, obey the signage.
    • A snow emergency does not overrule posted restriction. 
    • On weekends, the snow ordinance prevails: park on the even-numbered side on even dates; odd-numbered on odd dates. 
  • No signs
    • No prohibition
    • During a snow emergency, alternate "side of street" parking
    • Park on even-numbered side on even dates; odd-numbered side on odd dates. 

Where can I move my vehicle during a snow emergency? 

The number of on-street parking spaces will be limited during a snow emergency. Know before the snow where you will move your vehicle.  

The best option is to move your vehicle to an off-street parking space. If you cannot do this on private property, the following public parking options are available:

Parking Ramps 

Map of parking ramp locations

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.

Public Parks 

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

  • Mercer Park, 2701 Bradford Dr.
  • Lower City Park, 200 Park Road

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

There will be no warning tickets given. Vehicles will receive a $50 ticket, and then be towed and stored at the vehicle owner's expense. 


What do I do if my vehicle is towed?

If your vehicle is towed during a snow emergency, call the Parking Division at 319-356-5151 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. After hours call the Iowa City 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. To recover your vehicle, 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. 


Is the Downtown Central Business District impacted during a snow emergency? 

The downtown Central Business District bounded by Iowa Avenue, Gilbert Street, Burlington Street and Capitol Street is not affected by snow emergency rules. However, existing parking restrictions remain in effect. Follow all signs and directions. 


Do snow emergencies impact metered spaces and loading zones? 

No, a snow emergency does not affect metered parking spaces or loading zones.