Winter Parking FAQs

Q: Where is the snow emergency zone?

A: The Snow Emergency Zone is in the Downtown Isthmus area of Madison. The boundaries are Park and Proudfit Streets on the south and west to Thornton Avenue and the Yahara River on the north and from Lake Monona to Lake Mendota. View on map.

Q: What is a Declared Snow Emergency and what restrictions are implemented?

A:

  • A Declared Snow Emergency is when snow accumulates to 3” or more and all the streets in the downtown Snow Emergency Zone must be plowed.
  • When this occurs, people who park in the Snow Emergency Zone must abide by the alternate side parking rules for a minimum of the next two nights.
  • A Snow Emergency is declared whenever it becomes necessary to plow ALL residential streets.
  • A Snow Emergency will always be declared prior to 9 p.m. if it is to take effect that night.
  • If conditions warrant, a Snow Emergency can be extended beyond the 48 hours.
  • A Snow Emergency is a City-wide policy.

Q: I got towed. Where is my car?

A: Call the Madison Police Department at (608) 266-4075 to get the location of your car.

Q: Where do I park during a Declared Snow Emergency?

A: Off street is best There is free parking available between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. in the cashiered sections of City-owned parking garages.

  • Vehicles parked before or after this period will be charged the hourly rate for that location for the additional time.
  • When parking in the garages overnight, do not park on the top level so this area can be plowed.
  • Be aware that vehicles stored in City garages longer than 48 hours are subject to being ticketed and towed.
  • Meters in lots and garages are enforced 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Q: I live on a cul-de-sac. Where do I park?

A: If not listed on the Cul-de-Sac Parking list, the cul-de-sacs will have even and odd house numbers, and people who park on the street will have to follow the Alternate Side Parking Ordinance.

Q: Where do I park on a street where parking is restricted to one side only?

A: On streets where parking is restricted to one side of the street 24 hours per day, the alternate side parking rules do not apply.

Q: I only have on-street parking. Why do you always plow snow against my car?

A: Even though there are cars parked on the street, the plows must clear the traffic lanes of each of the streets. The snow is plowed to the right to where the curb is. Unfortunately for those people who park on the street, the snow is plowed up against the cars. That is why we ask that all cars try to find off street parking whenever there is snow accumulations of 3" or more and until streets are plowed.

Q: What happens if there are 3 or more inches of snow on the roads?

A: When the snow accumulation reaches 3" or more, we evaluate and, if necessary, declare a "Snow Emergency" and convert from a spreading operation to an all out plowing operation. (During a "Snow Emergency" declaration, alternate side-parking restrictions go into effect in the Snow Emergency Zone and remain in effect throughout the remainder of the City. The Snow Emergency lasts for a minimum of 2 consecutive nights.)