Let’s call Monday’s snow a practice run. A dress rehearsal.
Following several not-so-white winters in Baltimore, it stands to reason that some residents have forgotten the city’s unofficial yet ironclad etiquette for dealing with snow.
Who among us has not shaken a fist at the neighbor or business with an unshoveled sidewalk? Or rued the blast of flurries that whipped off another driver’s roof and temporarily blinded us? Maybe you’ve balked at the solitary lawn chair taking up the lone parking spot on your block.
No matter how the beginning of this week went, we’ve all got a second chance to tighten up ahead of Friday, when another bout of snow is expected to blanket the region. The city is expected to see up to three inches of snow through the day.
Take some time this season to brush up on Baltimore snow etiquette and we’ll all live to see another spring.
Salt and shovel your sidewalks
If you’ve ever stood on the perimeter of a packed-down, iced-over sidewalk looking for a crunchy patch of snow with enough traction to cross, this rule is for you. While the city takes care of clearing its roadways, it’s up to the rest of us to maintain the sidewalks.
Harken back to a time before the pandemic when Baltimore City’s salt boxes were known for more than the whimsical public art decorating them. For decades, the city has stocked these bright yellow boxes with salt and sand for residents to use on steep hills or areas too narrow for salt trucks to reach during a snow event. The city’s transportation department recently launched a map of all of the salt box locations. Residents can also request salt boxes for their neighborhood if needed.
Still, salt will only get you so far. Treatment chemicals tend to work best in temperatures above 20 degrees. So it’s equally as crucial for property owners and, in some cases, renters to shovel the sidewalks after it snows. If you’re not sure whether a sidewalk is your responsibility, be a doll and shovel it anyway for good karma.
Clear snow off of the entire vehicle
Driving in a snowstorm can be treacherous. So can driving behind a vehicle that still has fresh snow on the roof, mirrors or bumpers.
At highway speeds, fresh powder can fly off your car and obstruct the vision of any poor motorist with the misfortune of driving behind you. Another risk comes as drivers hit the brakes, causing a thick slab of snow and ice to slide off their vehicle’s roof and crash into the middle of the street.
Baltimore motorists should take the extra time to clear off the entire vehicle before hitting the road. Don’t just stop after clearing the front windshield. Buy a scraper, a broom or both so you can brush the snow off of the roof, hood, windows, mirrors, bumpers, headlights and brake lights.
Remember: Yellow snow doesn’t lie
No one likes dog poop in their yard. However, there’s something just as irritating about finding a patch of yellow snow right above those bulbs you planted in the fall.
If you’re walking your pup through the snow, remember the pee won’t just disappear into the soil unbeknownst to the gardener next door. Have your dog relieve him or herself in a place that doesn’t peeve your neighbors.
Parking spot turf wars
No real estate in Baltimore is more coveted than perhaps the shoveled-out parking spot on a snowy street. For years, locals have protected such territory with the humble yet mighty lawn chair.
It’s neither legal nor binding, but many longtime city residents have fiercely defended this tradition. Whether you observe the sovereignty of your neighbor’s claim depends entirely on your interpretation of what’s fair.
Some Baltimore natives have no qualms about moving a lawn chair if it’s blocking a parking spot they shoveled themselves. Others have adopted more of a finders-keepers attitude toward parking spaces.
The main lesson here is to understand what a lawn chair means when you see one in the street. Move it at your own peril.