Chill and wind to continue through weekend; Monday will bring relief


A resident of the Harrington area uses a snow blower to clear drifts from his driveway. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

DOVER — As of Thursday night, National Weather Service forecasters said the state was likely done with new snowfall for the time being, but hazardous conditions are far from over.

Sarah Johnson, a meteorologist at the Mt. Holly National Weather Service forecast office said blasting wind will continue throughout the day and into Saturday, likely not subsiding until Sunday morning. These high winds can reach gusts up to 45 mph. Temperatures aren’t expected to let up either — likely remaining in the mid- to high teens throughout the state over the weekend.

“Today, we’re looking at wind chill values as low as -5 degrees. On Saturday morning, we could even see those wind chills drop down to -10 to -15 degrees,” she said.

The blowing and drifting of accumulated snow will continue to create hazardous travel conditions as well.

“On Sunday, the winds are expected to die off, but we’ll have some of the coldest actual air temperatures that day — between 0 and 5 degrees in the morning,” said Ms. Johnson.

Although it seems far off now, relief is on the way notes Ms. Johnson.

“By Monday, we’ll start seeing a pretty significant warm-up,” she said. “Right now, we’re forecasting up to the mid-30s in the northern part of the state and mid-40s in the southern part. There’s a second low pressure system coming up from the southeast and we usually get some southwesterly flow when that happens which generally produces a rapid rise in temperatures.”

Historic storm?

Ms. Johnson said it’ll take the National Weather Service a few days to collect data on the winter storm to determine its place in history, but she was aware of one broken record in the region.

“At this point we know that Atlantic City set a daily snowfall record,” she said. “It’ll take several days to sort through all the rest of the records and determine how historic it was.”

As of Thursday night, total snowfall in Atlantic City had risen to well over a foot.

Delaware’s high total for Thursday was in Stockley at just over 11 inches according to the Delaware Environmental Observing System.

However, Ms. Johnson felt that the storm itself wasn’t terribly unique.

“It’s not all that uncommon for our area to have a big nor’easter during the winter months,” she said.

The storm aside, Delaware is knocking on the door of the longest continuous streak of days with temperatures below freezing. With warmer temperatures in the forecast for Monday though, Ms. Johnson doesn’t think the current cold snap will be a record-breaker.

“If we get through Sunday without getting above freezing, that’ll be 12 days, which would be tied for the third longest stretch of consecutive days below freezing in the state,” she said. “What is interesting is that it’s been a long time since we’ve had such a long stretch. The last stretch — also the longest recorded — was 15 days back in February of 1979. So it has been awhile since the region has seen such sustained cold.”

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