It’s snowy, but no emergency, Facebook says

This winter, the city wants snow emergencies to be your friend. Literally.

In a new campaign targeting young drivers, the city has created Minneapolis Snow Emergency, a fictional character to spread the word online about where to park when the roads are white.

Younger people in the past have complained to the city that they weren’t hearing about snow emergencies. Their cars were towed, and they were left with hefty bills for actions they said they didn’t know how to prevent. With Snow Emergency, the city is hoping to avoid such situations.

The character is firmly planted on MySpace — as a character — and on Facebook — as a fan page — and friends or fans will receive notifications whenever snow emergencies are declared. They’ll be able to determine, based on Snow Emergency’s status, on which side of the street they should be parking.

 “Anybody who’s got ‘emergency’ in their name is bound to have a rough social life,” Snow Emergency laments on his (her?) MySpace page. “But you should still be my friend. Because, face it, you need me.”
The word online this morning? It snowed in Minneapolis, but there’s no emergency.

The city also is reaching out to young drivers more prone to visit YouTube than MySpace. Earlier this month, it unveiled a 30-second ad online that highlights the basic aspects of snow emergencies. Now the city is seeking local filmmakers to put their own spin on the lesson. The best videos will be played on cable channels 14 and 79. (Find more information at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/snowbiz.)

Traditional alerting methods also remain. People still can check newspapers — in print or online — watch TV, sign up for e-mail and text message alerts at the city’s website, or call the snow emergency hotline, 348-SNOW.