The Lowdown On Snow Routes

With the Overnight Winter Parking Ban just kicking in Monday, December 1st, we thought it would be appropriate to have a discussion about that other type of winter parking ban–the 2″ snow route.

During the middle of the summer, we received a question regarding snow routes from a reader named Jim.

I have no idea why Jim had such profound thoughts about snow in the middle of the summer, but it was a very good set of questions. Basically, he wanted to know under what exact circumstances does the 2″ ban kick in and when it does, how are drivers alerted.

First, let’s explain what the hell a snow route is, and why you may be asked to move your car if there is at least 2″ of snow on the ground.

While you cannot park from 3 AM – 7 AM every night/early morning on streets defined under the Overnight Winter Parking Ban, there are other major thoroughfares, (another 500 miles of roadway within Chicago) otherwise known as Snow Routes.

Technically, when  2″ of snow or more hits the ground, you need to move your vehicle elsewhere. Sometimes the 2″ snow ban and the overnight parking bans apply to the same streets.

If the ban is enacted, and your car remains unmoved along one of these main thorough fares, you risk a ticket and having your vehicle relocated via tow truck.

If your car is relocated, you won’t have to go down to the auto-pound , but you still have to find your car and you can be ticketed as well.

Map Of Snow Routes (2″ Snow Ban)

But, determining whether the 2″ ban is a confusing one for drivers. For example, there are parts of the city that may get more snow than others.  Where is that 2″ measured and whom measures the 2″ of snow? Who determines if the 2″ ban is in effect or not.

Luckily, we have Matt Smith, an official spokesperson for the Chicago Dept. of Streets and Sanitation, to explain things to us.

“We do not enact the 2″ ban unless (Streets & Sanitiation) Commissioner Picardi determines that we need to do so because the vehicles present are a hindrance to our snow clearing operations,” explained Smith. “Two inches is a measurement on the low end and nothing more than a starting point. We would generally be in the midst of a major storm with several inches on the ground or
coming our way and we would announce that we are enacting the ban through the media.”

According to Smith, the 2″ snow route ban does not happen very often.  “We have only done this a couple of times over the past several years,” Smith says. “People who are parked in violation of the 2″ ban once it is enacted are subject to being ticketed and having their vehicles relocated nearby.”

So, just because there is 2″ of snow on the ground, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to move your car off a designated snow route street. However, every time there is a decent sized snowstorm, you should be vigilant monitoring the news and checking in here at The Expired Meter.

We will update this website anytime a 2″ snow ban is announced.

Here is a map of all snow route streets effected by the 2″ snow parking ban and a listing of all Chicago snow routes.

SPECIAL GEEK NOTE: While the Overnight Winter Parking Ban is only in effect between the dates of December 1 and April 1, a 2″ Snow Route Ban can be enacted no matter what the date. In general, most major snow storms don’t usually occur before Dec. 1 or after Apr. 1. However, theoretically, if a 6″ snow storm hit Chicago in June, the 2″ Snow Route Ban could be called for.

14 Responses to The Lowdown On Snow Routes

  1. [...] Despite the decent snowfall, Streets & Sanitation did not initiate the 2″ snow parking ban. [...]

  2. Evelyn Stewart says:

    Thanks very much for this! No one explains this stuff to you when you move here from the South. I live on Damen where we don’t have the Dec-Apr ban but we do have the 2″ snow ban. I absolutely panicked the first time we got more than 2 inches last year because I didn’t move the car. Good to know it will be formally announced when in effect. The news media should mention this at the start of snow season so everyone is informed but that would make too much sense, now wouldn’t it!

  3. Joe Donahue says:

    Does the 2″ rule, once enforced, then end once the street is plowed in my neighborhood or do I have to wait until the ban is lifted altogether?

  4. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Unfortunately, you have to wait until the ban is lifted. That’s because, if the storm is a big one, plows may need to plow more than once to keep the streets clear.

  5. Bella says:

    I just received a ticket on 3/28 for violation
    9-64-060B – Snow Route 3-7am.

    There was absolutely no chance of snow, and no snow that night. Can I print out a weather report and contest it?

  6. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Check out Ask The Geek column this coming Monday, April 13 for an answer.

  7. [...] So, just to be careful, keep an eye out and ear open for the 2″ snow ban. [...]

  8. Aldona says:

    Dumb question… I just started driving (at 33) and lived in the city for 28 years of it, so I know the rules and what-not but they never really applied to me before. Now I live in the suburbs but sometimes go to the city for gigs and what-not. I’m going to a gig tonight and fairly certain I’ll be on a snow route (have to check the map though). Does that mean if it’s not snowing when I go to the gig, but they are calling for snow later, I have to keep checking to see how bad the snow is? The gigs go on 2-3 hours generally and I know snow can build up pretty damn fast.

    I just don’t want to chance my car being relocated. I could deal with a ticket more than I could that. Thanks!

  9. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Here’s the deal.

    Look out for signs that say Winter Overnight Parking Ban (Dec. 1 – Apr. 1). After 3 AM, you can’t be on streets with those signs.

    Don’t sweat the 2″ snow route signs. This ban doesn’t go into effect and is unenforceable until the officially announced by the city. This RARELY happens. It has not happened in the last 3 years.

    So, watch the overnight ban and you should be cool.

  10. DoR Employee says:


    The 3am-7am Snow Route its a December to April ban. Snow Fall isn’t a requirement for the ticket OR Impound to occur.

  11. [...] According to Matt Smith, spokesperson for Streets & Sanitation the 2″ snow ban has not gone into effect for at least the past four winters because Chicago has not faced a major snowstorm in the past few [...]

  12. John says:

    Any news on Snow ban Parking for 1/12/2012?

  13. DoR Employee says:

    2in or More Ban Is NOT active at this time

  14. DoR Employee says:

    Almost time for the new post!

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