Do I really need to shovel this snow? Yes, say cities

When you wake up tomorrow, you’ll look out the window and see your Twin Cities’ sidewalk buried under four-to-eight inches of heavy, wet snow.

Mike Flynn shovels snow during a more seasonable March snowstorm in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Meteorologist Paul Huttner says each back-breaking shovel-full will approach the density of “cement.” But in an effort to find a silver lining ’round this latest April snow cloud, Paul points out temperatures will spike this weekend, perhaps into the 70s. So do we really need to shovel this time, or can we let the sun do it for us?

“The rules are still the same, whether it’s April or January,” Minneapolis Winter Operations Director Mike Kennedy said. “Property owners are responsible to shovel their sidewalks.”

Ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul require all residential sidewalks to be clear within 24 hours after the last snowflakes fall. Those who flout the rules risk having the city do the work and send them the bill.

So far this winter, more than 1,000 St. Paulites have paid a minimum of $120 apiece to have the Parks Department clear their snow.

But time may be on the side of the scofflaws this week. In spite of the 24-hour rule, no penalties can be imposed in either city for several days following a snowfall, and highs are forecast in the 40s and above starting tomorrow.

“By the time you get through all the process, it’s going to be melted,” Kennedy said.

But even if rising temperatures undermine the financial incentives, there’s a more important reason to pick up the shovel.

“I would just appeal to people’s sense of community,” Kennedy said. “Make it more about your neighbor, and the school kid, and the disabled people who need those sidewalks to get around and need them safe.”