If you ask me, driving during a snowstorm is something to be avoided at all costs, but if you have no choice on the matter, or if you’re just curious, high-tech tracking systems in some cities now let you remain well-informed about the state of the roads. Some locations have begun to implement tracking of their snow removal vehicles, potentially helping you figure out which roads have already been plowed, and which are better left avoided.
New York City’s PlowNYC site has an interactive map that lets you zoom in on the city’s boroughs and see how recently roads have been cleared. Color-coded lines let you know when the last plow traversed specific routes, and you can even put in a specific address and see how the roads are faring in that neighborhood. The site’s updated regularly, though it doesn’t really provide “live” tracking of vehicle’s current locations. So if you were hoping to find a plow and follow it around, you’re probably better off just looking out your door.
Washington D.C. has its own Snow Response Reporting System. Inputting a street address, intersection, block, or place name will display a map of that location and its surrounding environs, along with information on the location of salt, plows, traffic cameras (to get live views), and requests to the city’s 311 service for snow removal over the last three days.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has perhaps the coolest plow tracker, which not only shows the live locations of snow removal vehicles that have moved in the last four hours, but also groups together multiple plows in the same location (on shift changes, or waiting to be refilled with more salt, for example), and lets you pan back over the last two hours worth of vehicle locations. Clicking on any plow or salt spreader lets you know the last time it moved.
The City of Chicago also has a plow tracker, though it’s only available during major snowstorms.
Sadly, this is one place my hometown of Boston—where it snows pretty frequently—has fallen down on the job. Though the City of Boston tried to launch a snow plow tracking app back in 2013, the site was immediately overwhelmed and crashed—and the city government never really attempted to fix and relaunch it.