Emergency officials urge preparation for looming storm

The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center mid-week was monitoring a developing storm system off the eastern United States that threatened to bring heavy rain, gusty winds, and prolonged higher-than-normal tides to the region for the next several days.

A low-pressure system meandering off the Carolinas, teamed with strong high pressure to the northeast, was forecast to slowly make its way up the coast between Tuesday evening and Thursday evening. The combination of the storm’s counterclockwise wind flow, along with the clockwise spin of high pressure to the north and east, meant strong easterly winds was expected to blow ashore along the mid-Atlantic coast beginning Wednesday evening. Those conditions could last through Friday, emergency officials noted.
National Weather Service forecasters on Tuesday were predicting rainfall up to 3.5 inches and winds up to 45 mph during the period. Minor tidal flooding, some beach erosion and strong rip currents were also considered likely during the event.

“While this is hurricane season, this is not a tropical system, but more like the nor’easters common here during the winter months,” EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said Tuesday afternoon. “Nevertheless, many of the effects could be the same – beach erosion, tidal flooding and power outages are all possibilities in the next few days.

“We want to remind the public that now is a good opportunity to make preparations, before the weather deteriorates,” Thomas said. “Just in case.”

Sussex County officials reminded residents and property owners to secure loose objects, such as lawn chairs and trash cans, to prevent gusty winds from turning those items into potential projectiles. Also, residents in low-lying tidal areas – particularly along Sussex County’s Inland Bays – were advised to ensure that submersible pumps are working, storm drains are clear of debris and automobiles are moved from flood-prone locations.

Officials encouraged visitors to the area to closely monitor the weather and adjust their plans, if necessary. Additionally, ocean swimming is not being advised, as surf conditions will be rough and beach patrols have ended coverage for the season.

For updates, residents and visitors should stay tuned to local television and radio stations, and the Sussex County EOC Web site, at www.sussexcountyde.gov/services/storm. Members of the public who have questions regarding this information should contact the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center at (302) 855-7801.