The scoop on snow emergencies

snow_plow.jpg

Well, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his hole Saturday, and the little rodent says we're looking at six more weeks of winter. That means there could be a few more snow emergencies in our future (Mr. Snow Miser... are you listening?). A-Town has only seen two snow emergences this season. The first kind of took us by surprise, and the second hardly seemed like enough snow to constitute a concern, much less an emergency. But then, it's not our job to declare snow emergencies. Who's job is it? AOA got the scoop (or shovel if you will) on Albany snow emergencies from Albany Police Spokesman Jim Miller.

How is the decision made? Is there a groundhog involved?

No, basically the amount of snow and how quickly it comes down. There's no particular threshold. Usually 6-8 inches is when it starts to become important to clear the streets quickly.

Who decides?

The Mayor.

Does he stand outside and look around or what?

He consults with DGS, fire and police. You know, his agency heads.

How much advance notice does the city have to give residents?

We try to give at least 24 hours notice. Sometimes that has to be shortened. Recently there was a storm that came up rather quickly and we had to give less than 24 hours. I can't remember off the top of my head but there was more than 8 hours. It wouldn't be realistic to give people an hour to move their cars. The idea is not to penalize car owners, it's to make the streets safe. We try to notify people any way we can. All the media outlets. We send email to neighborhood associations. We even knock on doors on the street to get people to come out and move their cars. It's a lot easier to have people move their cars than it is to tow them. There are always going to be people we miss, or people who aren't paying attention, but Traffic Safety towed under 500 cars in the last two snow emergencies. In years past there were around 1,000.

We understand there's a phone number to call if your car is towed. Who answers that phone, and what did they do to deserve that job?

Traffic safety does that. Anybody getting towed will be unhappy. Some people are understanding some will get mad. They're public servants, so it's all part of their
job.

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