WEATHER ALERT [UPDATED]: Winter storm warning in effect through Sunday morning, 5-8 inches of snow predicted
The National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., has issued a winter storm warning for snow, which is in effect from 9 a.m. Saturday morning to 4 a.m. Sunday. The previous winter weather advisory is no longer in effect.
An area of low pressure will move off the southeast coast Saturday afternoon and will track northeastward Saturday night. With cold air in place over the northern Mid-Atlantic region, the area will receive snow, which could become heavy at times later Saturday and early Saturday evening. Snow is expected to begin later this morning, and will Increase in intensity through the day. Storm total amounts could range from 5 to 8 inches across the area. Snow will begin to taper off overnight Saturday night into Sunday.
A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice are expected or occurring. Strong winds are also possible. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible, officials warned.
People, equipment hit the roads
As forecast climbs to 7 inches, crews throughout Delaware are mobilized
As snow falls throughout Delaware, many state agencies are working to keep residents and travelers safe. The National Weather Service has recently revised their forecasts, to say that Sussex County will receive 5 to 7 inches, while Kent County is now expected to receive 4 to 5 inches. New Castle County is expected to receive less than 4 inches.
The snow storm affecting the Delmarva Peninsula today took more of a turn than predicted and continued a trend more northerly overnight and into Saturday. The result is that precipitation is greater than was originally forecast for the length of the state.
The Delaware State Police had reported 24 accidents statewide as of early afternoon on Saturday. There were no injuries in any of those, but one personal-injury crash had occurred by 3:30 p.m.
"Please do not drive anywhere today unless you absolutely have to," urged Cpl. Bruce Harris, public information officer for the Delaware State Police. "We don't want any bad accidents today. Having more cars on the road makes it difficult for the emergency responders, and the crews trying to plow the roads."
Rosanne Pack, spokesperson for Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), said mid-day that current models indicated that Sussex County could see 5 to 7 inches or more by evening, with Kent getting 4 or 5 inches and New Castle County receiving 2 inches.
Pack said, "Emergency management officials are monitoring storm effects in all counties and, if necessary, will support coordination for meeting needs that exceed resources of local officials and responders. Of utmost importance is that members of the public heed all travel precautions from DelDOT and Delaware State Police. Everyone should also follow measures to ensure that families and neighbors are safe and have adequate supplies for their comfort until travel is safer."
Pack reminded the public that with temperatures staying well below freezing through the weekend, care should be taken to keep pipes from freezing. Consult plumbers and hardware stores for tips on keeping pipes open, especially if some are closer to exterior walls and more exposed to freezing temperatures.
Crews from the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) in Kent and Sussex counties are all on the job, about 300 people in all, officials said.
In Sussex County, DelDOT employees were at work at 11 a.m., spreading a mixture of sand and salt on the roads.
"Because of the low temperatures, the salt is less effective, so we are mixing in a great deal of sand," said DelDOT spokesman Jim Westhoff. "When we get about 2 inches of accumulation on the roads, we'll put down the blades and start plowing. For now, it's more important to get down the salt and sand."
Crews battle increasing snow accumulation
As evening arrived on Saturday, crews from Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and emergency responders were fighting statewide against the increasing amount of snowfall, while the Delaware State Police reports many accidents throughout Delaware.
The Delaware State Police reported 107 accidents statewide as of 5 p.m. There were three injuries in New Castle county, but none of them were life-threatening. One accident in Kent County resulted in an injury. "Conditions are unsafe right now, despite the hard work of the plows," said Harris.
According the National Weather Service, snow was occurring statewide as of 5 p.m. on Saturday and was expected to continue into the evening. Accumulations forecast, from north to south, were: New Castle County, including the City of Wilmington, 1-3 inches; Kent County, 3-55 inches; and Sussex County, 5-8 inches. The snow was expected to begin tapering off after sunset in New Castle County and around midnight in Southern Sussex County.
Temperatures were predicted to drop to the low- to mid-teens statewide, with little variation in wind speeds. On Sunday temperatures were expected rise to the low- to mid-20's during the day and fall to the low-teens on Sunday evening. There was the possibility of single-digit lows in the higher elevations in northern New Castle County and the western interiors of the state.
Along the coast, minor tidal flooding may occur during the Sunday-morning high tide in Sussex County at the breakwater in Lewes, officials warned. Astronomical tides may affect flood-prone areas during the period early Sunday morning. Winds will remain out of the north Saturday night, shifting to the northwest Sunday.
"Many people on roads are driving too fast for conditions and getting in crashes or ending up stuck," said Andrea Summers, spokesperson for Delaware Office of Highway Safety. "We urge people to stay off the roads and not put themselves and others at risk."
DelDOT crews are mobilized statewide, with about 500 employees working on Saturday evening.
In Sussex County, which has the heaviest snowfall, crews have been plowing the primary roads. At the significant intersections, crews are applying a mixture of two-thirds sand and one-third salt. On most of the roads, however, crews were focused on plowing. In Kent County, crews were also working on the primary roads. In New Castle County, DelDOT crews were plowing while also applying large amounts of salt to the bridges and interstates.
Hazardous conditions briefly close Nassau Bridge near Lewes
Delaware State Police reported the brief closure of the Nassau Bridge near Lewes mid-afternoon after an accident on northbound Route 1 (Coastal Highway) involving a single vehicle.
The roadway was shut down for about a half-hour, due to approximately 11 other vehicles reported to be sideways in the same vicinity but not directly involved in the accident.
Roadways are extremely hazardous statewide, officials said, and state police are asking all motorists to limit their driving in these hazardous conditions. The state police statewide had been experiencing high volumes of traffic crashes through about 3 p.m., with 38 property damage crashes and no personal-injury crashes in New Castle County; 28 property damage crashes and one personal-injury crash in Kent County; and 25 property damage crashes and no personal-injury crashes in Sussex County.
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