Evanston officials prepare for ‘snow emergency’ this weekend


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

A bus traverses the snow. City officials are preparing for a snowstorm that will hit Evanston this weekend.

Ryan Wangman, City Editor

As a massive storm heads for the Chicago area and prepares to dump about an estimated foot of snow onto Evanston, city officials are gearing up to handle the winter flurries.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for northeastern Illinois that is in effect from 6 p.m. Thursday through 9 p.m. on Friday. The service said that heavy snow is expected, with a likely accumulation of snowfall between 8 to 14 inches.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the city will likely declare a “snow emergency” on Saturday and Sunday to clean up the streets in the aftermath of the storm. Emergency sirens will sound at 7:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. on snow emergency days, according to the city’s website.

Bobkiewicz urged students who haven’t heard the sirens before to not be alarmed when they likely go off this weekend.

“The sirens, for people who aren’t paying attention and who have never heard them associated with snow before, it’s an Evanston (and) Chicago kind of thing,” Bobkiewicz said. “We just want to make sure that people understand that there’s nothing else going on; that (if) they hear a siren, it’s related to snow.”

Bobkiewicz said it’s been about two years since the city has seen a storm of this magnitude, according to information he’s seen from Chicago meteorologists.

Edgar Cano, the city’s public services bureau manager, said in a video posted to the city’s YouTube channel that various parking restrictions can be imposed after 2 inches of snowfall or more. On streets marked as “snow routes,” parking is not allowed between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sirens will sound at 8:15 p.m. if a parking ban is to be in effect at 11 p.m., according to the city’s website.

During a snow emergency — which can occur after a 4-inch snowfall — parking on certain streets is limited to one side of the road. If a car is left parked on a side of the road marked for cleaning, the car will be towed and ticketed, Bobkiewicz said.

Evanston’s community engagement coordinator Patrick Deignan said in a news release that to assist plowing operations and to make parking more convenient for residents, the city will open all three downtown parking garages for free parking beginning Thursday at 5 p.m. through Sunday at 11:59 p.m. The involved garages are located at 821 Davis St., 1800 Maple Ave., and 525 Church St.

Bobkiewicz said the city has staff working on 24-hour operations to clear the streets and sidewalks. He said staff will work until the snow is cleared, with people working nonstop from Thursday night through Sunday or Monday night.

Cano said people can sign up to receive notifications about parking restrictions as a result of snow through its website or by texting a city-operated number. He also advised residents to shovel their sidewalks and to not pass plows on the right while driving.

“Winter weather can be a challenge for everyone,” Cano said in the video. “The public works agency will be hard at work this season keeping our streets safe.”

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