Updated: Coastal storm issues ‘mild to moderate’

DOVER – DNREC staff spent several morning hours monitoring Delaware’s coastline during Wednesday’s storm and found some ongoing beach erosion with minor dune damage by mid-day.

State of Delaware Flood Program Manager Michael Powell was waiting to see the affects of the ocean’s high tide at noon.

“The winds and the wave heights have not gotten to the magnitude of the earlier forecast so far,” said Mr. Powell, noting that another key moment will arrive at midnight when another high tide is projected.

At about 3:15 p.m., the Delaware National Guard reported no calls for service requested in Sussex County. The DNG had drivers for four Light Medium Tactical Vehicles (2.5 ton trucks that can transport 15 people and go thru four feet of water) in place if needed, along with a liaison officer at Sussex Operations Center.

Describing the weather forecast as “evolving” from earlier models, Mr. Powell said he hadn’t yet seen the potential snow that was projected to arrive in Sussex County. He began checking southern Delaware’s coastline at 7:30 a.m., moving between Bethany Beach, the Indian River Inlet, Rehoboth Beach, Lewes beach areas, Cape Henlopen and the Seashore State Park.

DNREC staff stationed in Dover reported similar findings when checking out waterfront at Kitts Hummock, Prime Hook, Slaughter, Pickering North Bowers and Broadkill beaches.

The road into South Bowers Beach was typically flooded, Mr. Powell said, and evaluation was not possible at noon.

Rehoboth Beach Mayor Paul Kuhns said, “It’s one o’clock, I’m looking out my window and nothing is going on. It’s gray and overcast and wet on the roads and waves are churning up as you can imagine.”

Looking at the possibility of three to five inches later in the day, Mr. Kuhns said “Everyone is on call for any emergencies that may arise, but knock on wood we’ve had no issues.”

The mayor said two morning meetings went on as scheduled and municipal offices remained opening pending a turn for the worse.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Lance Franck described flooding and property damage from the oceanfront to the Delaware Bay south of New Castle County as “minor to moderate.” Mr. Franck said a coastal flood warning will remain until 5 a.m. Thursday and tide cycles tonight were projected to likely remain about the same as mid-day.

The NWS reported the center of the nor’easter to be 125 miles off Delaware’s coastline, heading northeast and continuing to intensify. Winds offshore were reported at 50 mph. Mr. Franck said snowfall in Sussex County could reach one to two inches, but the warmer temperatures made predicting the total tougher.

DelDOT reported no road way flooding issues either.

“We are watching areas all along the coast but nothing to report as of yet,” said spokesman C.R. McLeod, who said DelDOT was closely watching Del. 1 south of Dewey Beach as the high tide approached.

Overall, Mr. McLeod said, “We are seeing snow beginning to stick to roadways around the state and expect road conditions to worsen as the day progresses. No major incidents, but we have seen a few cars slide off of roads. No driving restrictions yet, but encourage anyone going out to use caution and slow down.

“Our plows are out salting and plowing – we are expecting heavy rates of snowfall though so roads, especially secondary and rural roads will be snow covered before long.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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