Snow Emergency Information

What Activates a Snow Emergency? 

Residents may call the Snow Emergency Hotline at (248) 246-3442 24 hours a day to find out if a snow emergency is in effect. "A Snowfall of Four Inches or More" generally defines when a Snow Emergency is activated. Learn more about snow emergencies from the following documents:
  When a snow emergency is in effect for the City of Royal Oak, all vehicles on residential streets are to be removed or will be ticketed and/or towed. Vehicles are to remain off the streets until plow trucks have gone through the area. Once a snow emergency is called and plowing begins, it takes approximately 24 - 36 hours to plow all City streets.

City Snowplows Need Citizens' Cooperation

With winter on its way, city officials are reminding residents that cooperation is the key to a successful snow removal operation. The operation can't work unless residents cooperate by moving their cars into driveways when a snow emergency is declared. If that happens, City snowplows can move unimpeded through residential streets and restore safe driving conditions much sooner. Residents may call the Snow Emergency Hotline, (248) 246-3442, to find out if a snow emergency is in effect.

Those who don't cooperate could be ticketed and fined under a 1991 ordinance requiring them to move their cars off the street when a snow emergency is declared, but Department of Public Services Director Greg Rassel stresses that cooperation is "still critical."

On-street parking is prohibited, except with special permits issued through the Royal Oak Police Department Records Bureau, (248) 246-3530, when an official snow emergency is declared. Emergency conditions are generally defined as a snowfall of four inches or more.

"If there's a winter storm watch and a snowfall of four inches or more is expected, we'd recommend that residents remove their cars prior to an official emergency declaration," Rassel said. "When the emergency is declared, it's absolutely critical that cars be off the roads. We'll already be plowing by that time." Rassel said that city crews are ready to tackle any kind of snowfall, from a light sprinkling to a raging blizzard.

Snow Emergency Plan

Here's how the plan works:

Priority One Status

This covers snowfall of up to four inches. All major arterial streets such as 12 Mile Road are plowed and/or salted by special routes 24 hours a day as required.

Priority Two

When Priority One routes are done, crews shift to Priority Two routes, which is connector streets and routes leading to schools. Intersections and drop-off areas at the schools are plowed and/or salted during regular work hours, Monday through Friday only. School areas are done only when they are in session.

Crews salt intersections only where the majority of stopping and turning takes place. This permits "tracking" of salt beyond the intersection, and within a few days after a snow, the area is mostly free of ice or snow. Concentrating on intersections protects the streets and the environment, saving the taxpayers money.

Priority Three

This covers major storms of more than four inches of snow. The entire city will be plowed starting with Priority One roads, then Priority Two streets (only if school is in session, otherwise the city goes straight to all local roads), finally Priority Three roads are completed. Salting of intersections begins when dictated by conditions. Plowing is started in a different section of the city after each snowfall as a matter of fairness. You can stay abreast of plowing operations by calling the Snow Emergency Hotline at (248) 246-3442.

Downtown Area

In the central business district, snow is plowed to the center of the street, then picked up after all local roads are complete.
The goal is to complete plowing and pick up operations within 24 hours after the snow stops, and it's much easier to do if vehicles are parked off the street.  The city thanks everyone for their patience and understanding during this stressful time.

Driveway Blockage

The Department of Public Service is often bombarded by complaints when snow is plowed into people's driveways. Unfortunately, it is an unavoidable circumstance because plows are fixed to push the snow to the curb and there's no place for it to go other than the driveway. It means the end of the driveway must be cleaned again after the plow goes through. It also means the City snowplow driver's work isn't entirely done after they finish a long day's work. Waiting at home in the driveway is that same pile of snow that residents have to shovel.

The City apologizes for the inconvenience, but a plowed street is vitally important for emergency vehicles, and permits residents to go to work, school, etc.