Snow emergencies, despite the name, are a regular part of life in the Twin Cities. For new residents, a first visit to the impound lot is like a rite of passage. But as aggravating as they can be, snow emergencies and their parking restrictions are how the cities keep streets drivable, and parkable, in the winter.

Here’s what you need to know about parking in Minneapolis and St. Paul during a snow emergency. In both cities, snow emergencies start at 9 p.m. on the day they’re declared. But after that, the cities have different rules.

How to stay informed

Minneapolis offers e-mail and text alerts as well as phone notifications. You can also receive updates on Twitter and Facebook. The city has a free app for Apple iOS and Android that lists parking rules. Check out the city's snow emergency website for more information.

St. Paul also offers e-mail and text alerts. You can follow St. Paul Public Works on Twitter and the city's Facebook page for snow emergency news. The city has a website where you can find snow emergency updates, an interactive map and parking rules. You can call 651-266-PLOW (7569) for recorded information.

JUMP TO ST. PAUL or WHAT IF MY CAR IS TOWED?

Parking in Minneapolis

Day 1 – 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Do not park:

• On any block that has a red "Snow Emergency Route" sign. You can also tell if you are on a snow emergency route if the street name sign is blue.

Do park:

• On any block where parking is permitted that does not have this sign.

Day 2 – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Do not park:

• On the “even house number” side of blocks that are not marked as snow emergency routes.

On parkways. (What’s a parkway? Here’s a map.)

Do park:

• On either side of blocks marked as snow emergency routes.

• On the “odd house number” side of blocks that are not snow emergency routes.

• On any block where parking is permitted, after it has been fully plowed as widely as possible. Keep in mind, plows may come through more than once, so the street really does need to be plowed completely before you park there.

Day 3 – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Don't park:

• On the “odd house number” side of streets that are not snow emergency routes.

Do park:

• On either side of snow emergency routes.

• On the “even house number” side of streets that are not snow emergency routes.

• On parkways.

• On any block where parking is permitted, after it has been fully plowed.

Parking in St. Paul

Day 1 – 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Don't park:

• On any block with a red “Night Plow Route” sign.

• Anywhere in downtown St. Paul. All of downtown is part of the night plow route, though no signs are posted.

• On the side of a street with a red “Night Plow Route – This Side of Street” sign.

Do park:

• On any other block where parking is permitted.

Day 2 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Don't park:

• On any block without a “Night Plow Route” sign. All unmarked streets, except in downtown St. Paul, are considered day plow routes.

Do park:

• On blocks marked with “Night Plow Route” signs.

• On any block where parking is permitted, after it has been fully plowed to the curb (usually by 5 p.m., but it could take longer).

IMPORTANT: Vehicles can be ticketed and towed up to 96 hours after a snow emergency has begun, so be sure the block has been fully plowed to the curb before parking there.

What if my vehicle is towed?

It will likely cost you. In Minneapolis, the standard tow charge is $138 and $18 per day for storage. Be sure to have your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) handy. You can search for your car in Minneapolis' impound lot here and add your name to the impound lot's online waitlist to avoid standing in long lines. You'll want to head to the impound lot at 50 Van White Memorial Blvd. in Minneapolis as you near the top of the list and follow the instructions posted in the facility. During snow emergencies the lot is open 24 hours.

In St. Paul, you can expect a $56 parking ticket, $275 in towing and impound lot fees and $15 per day for storage if your vehicle is towed. You can find more information here on how to find your vehicle and what to bring with you when you pick it up. Vehicles towed during a snow emergency in St. Paul are brought to the lot at 1129 Cathlin St.