WEATHER ALERT: Snowfall tops 8 inches in coastal Sussex; non-emegency vehicles still prohibited from travel

With snow totals statewide topping 15 inches in some locations and more than 8 inches of snow in the local area, Delaware emergency officials on Saturday morning were reminding the public of the State of Emergency currently in force and the requirement that they stay off roads until further notice. Only emergency vehicles are permitted on the roads in Delaware as of 9 a.m. Saturday. No non-essential vehicles are permitted on the roads, even if they have four-wheel drive.

The Delaware National Guard has been transporting law enforcement and medical personnel, as well as moving people without power to shelters, serving as dialysis patient taxis and dealing with stranded cars. DNG's Task Force Sussex transported civilians in Georgetown and Milton around 1:30 a.m., they said. There will be no DART or ParaTransit Service on Saturday.

In Sussex County, where local snow accumulation has topped out at 8.4 inches in Selbyville, Sussex County roads were reported as snow-covered and impassable. As of about 7 a.m., two tractor trailers were reported to be blocking Route 24 in Sussex County and at least one Mountaire truck was reported stuck on Route 24.

In Kent County, where more than 15 inches of snow has accumulated near Dover, officials were reporting numerous vehicles stranded on Route 1 and that secondary roads are impassable. Route 113 in Kent County was reported as impassable, with Route 13 south of Dover passable but several vehicles hindering snow plows.

The latest traffic incident numbers statewide since start of event, as of 9 a.m. on Saturday, included 158 disabled vehicles, 42 property-damage crashes and four injury crashes.

Officials said that, as of 7 a.m., the biggest issues they were dealing with were snow still falling at rate of 2 to 3 inches an hour in some areas and winds around 20 mph with gusts up to 30 or 40 mph. Snowfall in eastern Sussex County appears to have begun to taper off, at least for the moment. (See live snow totals online at ) What snow was still falling in the Delaware beach area as of 8 a.m. was light in amounts, but wet and heavy, with some of the existing accumulation already beginning to melt.

Officials advised that when people wake up to piles of snow, they be careful breaking out the snow shovels, and pace themselves and don't over exert. Ocean View police on Saturday morning were urging residents to stay home for their safety, as snow will continue to fall into the afternoon.

Nearly 39,000 homes, businesses now without power; emergency managers ask public to contact storm-only hotline

Sussex County residents on Saturday morning were awakening to significant snow accumulation and widespread power outages, with as many as 39,000 homes and businesses left in the dark as a result of the major coastal winter storm that continued to lash the Mid-Atlantic region.

Since the storm began Friday afternoon, a range of 6 to 12 inches of snow has fallen across the county, according to weather station observations. More snow was expected throughout the day, and total snow accumulations could range from 1 to 2 feet by the time the storm ends later Saturday, county officials said.

The National Weather Service’s blizzard warning remains in effect for all of Sussex County until 7 p.m. Saturday. Snow and gusty winds could cause visibilities to drop below a quarter-mile at times, resulting in whiteout conditions. Tidal flooding also is possible with this dangerous coastal storm.

As is expected with a storm of this magnitude, numerous, widespread power outages have occurred. The Delaware Electric Cooperative was reporting nearly 22,000 outages in the county as of 8 a.m., while Delmarva Power reported approximately 17,000 customers without power. Crews are trying, where and when possible, to assess outages and restore service to customers, officials said.

All of Delaware remains under a state of emergency until further notice. The emergency declaration prohibits non-essential travel.

The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center is asking that members of the public with storm-related questions or non-emergency concerns call the dedicated storm information line, at (302) 856-7366, and not to call other EOC telephone numbers, as those lines are necessary for emergency planners to coordinate services during the storm event.

The Sussex County EOC also reminded the public to only call 911 in an emergency.

Blizzard warning remains in effect, with strong winds; additional snowfall possible in area

A blizzard warning remains in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday evening. Heavy snow was occurring across the area early this morning and will continue through much of Saturday. The snow will fall heavily at times, with rates of up to 1 to 3 inches an hour. The heaviest snow will occur through about midday Saturday. The snow may mix with sleet at times early Saturday morning, mainly across far southern Delaware and may be intermittent there, as well.

Storm total snow accumulations of 17 to 27 inches are expected across the bulk of the area. An increasing northeast to north wind with gusts of 40 to 50 mph into early this afternoon will create extensive blowing and drifting snow, along with whiteout conditions. The wind combined with the falling snow will create extremely hazardous conditions including greatly reduced visibilities to less than a quarter-mile at times.

The intense low pressure system east of the Delmarva peninsula will gradually move out to sea during today and tonight. This storm will produce a strong onshore flow today. A coastal flood advisory remains in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday. The onshore flow and wave action will cause minor tidal flooding with the high tide cycles through Sunday morning. The most widespread minor tidal flooding is expected with the high tide Saturday afternoon. Wave action will exacerbate the tidal flooding and also cause more beach erosion.

High tides occur between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. today. High tides on early Sunday morning will occur between 2 and 4 a.m. High tides occur later on the back bays and also on Delaware Bay.

Current expectations are for the tidal flooding to peak in the minor range. However, some local moderate tidal flooding cannot be ruled out especially in southern Delaware. Do not park your vehicle in areas prone to tidal flooding or take roadways that are prone to tidal flooding.

Weather officials noted that another low pressure system may affect the area with some wintry weather later Tuesday into Wednesday.