If you think it’s OK to ignore the ice-coated sidewalk outside your home — figuring a warm spell predicted for later this week will take care of the problem — you’re only half right.
Several days of above-freezing temperatures forecast for the metro area Thursday through Saturday are likely to melt the ice, said Tyler Hasenstein of the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
But you’re on the hook until then, says the city of Minneapolis. And this year, the city is cracking down on sidewalk scofflaws.
Minneapolis has always had an ordinance requiring residents of single-family homes or duplexes to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall. Residents can complain about violators by calling 311.
This year, officials said, that law will be more actively enforced than it has been in the past, with city inspectors patrolling neighborhoods in search of unshoveled walks.
Elsewhere in the state Monday, the roads were the focus of concern.
An inch or two of snow followed by strong winds may make travel hazardous in western and northern Minnesota for late Monday into Tuesday.
With winds of 10 to 20 miles per hour, gusting upward of 25 to 35 mph, windchills were expected to plunge as low as the negative teens in the Twin Cities and negative 30s in western and northern areas, Hasenstein said.
Actual temperatures were forecast to drop to a few degrees below zero in southern areas of the state and into the negative teens farther west and north.
In western and northern parts of Minnesota, where residents saw 1 to 2 inches of snow, some roads were completely covered early Monday and still partly covered by midday, said Kevin Gutknecht of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
“The wind’s blowing, snow is in the area, and it’s going to hamper visibility,” he said. As temperatures drop, he added, bridges and ramps may freeze and black ice can form.
In Minneapolis, those who fail to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice within 24 hours typically receive a notice by letter and are given a second chance.
If a follow-up inspection finds the sidewalk still uncleared, city crews will do the job and charge at least $149 per visit — double for those with corner lots. Property owners who don’t pay will find that they’re assessed for the work on their property taxes.
Stubborn ice can be removed with a scraper or chisel, available at most hardware stores, according to a tweet from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. The organization recommends against using salt, this week anyway, because of the expected warm-up.
If conditions make snow or ice too hard to clear, city officials say it’s OK to shovel as best you can and then sprinkle a little sand to provide traction until conditions improve and it can be fully removed. The city offers free sidewalk sand to residents.
Minneapolis maintains a webpage with information about the sidewalk-clearing law, as well as tips on shoveling.