Wind, flooding concerns continue today

DOVER — Maybe, just maybe, Delaware will soon have clear skies.

“With the continued easterly flow, some light showers can’t be ruled out (today),” the National Weather Service report said late Saturday afternoon, “so we continue to mention a chance closer to the coast and only a slight chance inland.”

Since Wednesday, a front has lingered, dropping 5-6 inches in Kent and Sussex counties.

The nor’easter — not the hurricane — continues to whip Delaware with 25 mph winds — gusting above 40 mph along the coast at times — and flood several Downstate roadways.

Earlier this week, Hurricane Joaquin had drawn the attention of East Coast residents, but this week’s foul weather has been unrelated.

According to the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, the dreary weather and high winds the area is experiencing are coming from the collision of a high pressure system from Canada and a low pressure system coming in from the Atlantic.

“A high impact weather pattern is affecting the coastal sections of our area with coastal flooding, heavy surf, beach erosion, and very strong winds,” the National Weather Service said in a Saturday briefing. “These conditions are being produced by a persistent onshore flow from a stalled frontal boundary off the coast and an associated low pressure system.

“Hurricane Joaquin, a separate system, will pass well to the east of our area late Monday and Tuesday and will not impact our area directly, but may delay improvement by maintaining high seas along the coast.”

NWS meteorologists said there was no single reason why the front has stalled. It’s a combination of many different factors but the hazardous weather conditions should die down today.

“We should see clearing skies and calming conditions as we start the workweek,” WBOC meteorologist Brian Keane reported. “Next week will be filled with days where we’ll see hit or miss sunshine, with highs warming back into the upper 70s by late next week.”

Big waves

The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) reported breaking waves of six to 10 feet on Friday and Saturday.

Arlene and John Gledhill, of Lewes, were among the curious weather watchers who got an up-close look at the raging surf from the boardwalk extending to the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park.

“It’s awesome,” Mr. Gledhill said.

At Cape Henlopen, it was foggy with a steady mist along with 25 mph winds, gusting to 40 or more mph at times, on Saturday.

The waves were touching the fencing in front of the dunes and splashing underneath the boardwalk that extends from the park’s bath house.

The fog and mist were so thick that the Harbor of Refuge Light at the mouth of the Delaware Bay was barely visible.

At Lewes Beach, wind and waves had pushed sand across the beach parking lot and to a depth of about a foot in the nearby Dairy Queen parking lot.

The NWS has the Delaware coast under a coastal flood warning until today at 6 p.m.

The stiff onshore winds continue to push water into low-lying communities such as Oak Orchard in Sussex County where there has been a coastal flood warning and limited state of emergency. There was two feet of water on River Road in Oak Orchard.

It may be a while before the area is free of flooding and higher-than-normal tide cycles.

“We are continuing to push our way through this storm, and hopefully as the next 24 to 36 hours progress, the conditions will begin to improve,” Sussex County Emergency Operations Center Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “But the areas that are flooded now should expect to see that flooding continue through at least the next two or three tide cycles, and after that, as the storm pulls away, some of the water backed up into the bays should begin to drain and conditions should improve.”

Flooded roads

The rain and rising tides have put several roads under water. Saturday morning DelDOT released a list of roads closed due to flooding which spanned all three counties.

The rain and rising tides have only been half of this weather system’s fury. The other half is the gusty winds which have exceeded 30 miles per hour and have created problems for Downstate residents.

Delmarva Electric Cooperative had about 5,000 members without power between 5 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. All outages were due to power lines damaged by falling branches and trees caused by strong overnight gusts. Crews worked around the clock repairing lines to restore power and will remain on call until the winds die down.

At the track

With a slight chance of rain today in Dover, there is hope that today’s AAA 400 will start at 2:30 p.m. as planned at Dover International Speedway.

Friday’s qualifying was rained out. For the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dover had record 2.67 inches of rain.

Saturday’s Hisense 200 started at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, as planned, but was interrupted by a shower after 115 laps around the high-banked mile oval.

Thanks to the trucks with jet dryers, the track was cleared in time for the race.

“When we were around 3 o’clock today, it really looked like we would not get to this point whatsoever,” said NBC Sports analyst Dale Jarrett during the brief rain delay after Lap 115. “We were really surprised that we didn’t get a few showers that would have held up the start of this race.”

Meanwhile, NASCAR star Jeff Gordon, who will be driving in his final Dover race today, posted on Facebook that he was spending the dreary day in nearby Leipsic.

“Rainy days in Dover call for a side trip to Sambo’s Tavern and Dogfish Head Beer,” he wrote under a picture of his sitting at the newspaper-covered tavern bar with Dogfish beer in front of him.

Managing Editor Andrew West contributed to this story.

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