MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For some Minnesotans, Monday night’s snowfall was significant. For others, it was just a nuisance – two to three inches, including some that had already melted.

So, that had some Minnesotans wondering: Do I really need to shovel? How much should it snow before we clear the sidewalks? Good Question.

“If the neighbors shovel, then we go out and shovel,” said Carolyn Youngbauer of Minneapolis. While walking with her kids and dog Tuesday night, she could clearly point out the clear pavement from the sidewalks covered in a crunchy snow-ice mixture.

The city of Minneapolis requires its residents to clear the snow and ice “the full width of the sidewalk down the pavement” within 24 hours after the precipitation has fallen. The city of St. Paul’s ordinance says “any accumulation of snow and/or ice” must be removed from the sidewalk within 24 hours after the snow or ice has stopped. Many suburbs with sidewalks have similar laws.

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, people can be ticketed and charged the cost of snow removal if they don’t clear their sidewalks.

“You need to shovel anytime is snows, even it’s freezing rain or something light,” said Mike Kennedy, director of winter operations for the City of Minneapolis. “If it makes the sidewalk unsafe, then we want people to get out there and do something to try to take care of it.”

Kennedy says there is no bottom limit on inches of precipitation because it can melt, refreeze and cause significant problems. Other people walking on the freshly fallen snow can also cause it dig further into the sidewalk.

“Particularly for kids getting on the school bus, for people in wheelchairs, it’s really important everyone does their job to keep the sidewalks clear,” Kennedy said.

Private snow removal companies generally come out after one-and-a half to two inches have fallen. Customers can pay more for removal when there is less snow.

On Tuesday morning, WCCO-TV anchor Jason DeRusha was teased after he told viewers he snow blowed at 3am at his home before heading into work. But, in most metro cities, snow blowers are exempt from the noise ordinances that apply to machines like leaf blowers or lawn mowers.

“It’s better if you do it during the day, but because it’s so important, we allow it at night,” Kennedy said.

Heather Brown