Snow emergencies can be a confusing time for those who need on-street parking. They can also be an infuriating and expensive time for those whose cars are towed — and for drivers who can't get to their destination because of snarled streets.

St. Paul officials say they have an app for that.

After hearing the lamentations of St. Paulites lost in the snowy wilderness, the folks at St. Paul Public Works are promoting a new map and mobile phone app. A big, real-time map and instructions for adding the map to a mobile device can be found at

"Residents wanted an easy-to-use tool – specifically a map – that could help them find where to park in St. Paul during a snow emergency," said Sean Kershaw, the city's Public Works director. "The new Snow Emergency Parking Map is updated in real time. It's important that people only use the map from the city's website, not one from the app stores. There are other apps out there, but those are not directly linked to or affiliated with the city."

On the map, users will be able to see if the city has declared a snow emergency, which streets need a cleanup and which streets are day or night plow routes. Green means it's safe to park, red means no parking is allowed and yellow means plows need to come through to finish the job curb-to-curb.

In a city where half the residents are renters — many with no choice but to park on the streets day and night — snow emergencies are often a teeth-gnashing game of "Whac-A-Mole" as motorists try to figure out where and when cars should be moved.

While frustrated residents might demand that more cars be ticketed and towed during snow emergencies, St. Paul doesn't have the capacity to tow thousands of cars. So, Kershaw said, snow emergencies require folks to work together for the common driving good.

The hope is that the new app — developed last year but being promoted more heavily this year — will help make that happen.

"Snow emergencies impact each and every person who lives, works or travels through St. Paul," Kershaw said. "We work all winter long to keep more than 1,800 lane miles in St. Paul safe and passable for all."