Delaware gets coating of snow in first storm of the season

Light snow covers the bell at Legislative Mall in Dover on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — To Sussex Countians with places to go and work to do, they got the worst of the snowstorm Saturday, but to snowman-building kids, they got the best of it.

As of Saturday evening, Sussex County has up to 2.5 inches of snow in Lewes up to a high of almost 6 inches in Dagsboro, according to the Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS). New Castle county saw just over 2 inches in some areas and most of Kent County remained below an inch’s worth of accumulation.

Areas south of the state got pummeled with snow during the regional storm as well. According to the Associated Press, snowstorms knocked out electricity to thousands across the South. More than 382,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity Saturday in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Traffic rides on Rt 15 near Canterbury as snow falls on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Southern Pine Electric Co-operative has more than 12,000 customers without power Saturday in south Mississippi. The co-op had about twice that many outages at their peak. Officials said getting everyone’s electricity restored could take days.

Preliminary reports to the weather service showed up to 10 inches of snowfall in northwest Georgia, with 7 inches of accumulation in parts of metro Atlanta. Another 10 inches of snow was reported in Anniston, Alabama, while up to 7 inches were reported in Mississippi. Rare flurries were even reported in New Orleans.

A freeze warning was in effect on Saturday for parts of northern Florida, southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia.

As storms moved further east during the day on Saturday, they dumped up to 14 inches in parts of North Carolina before heading into the Mid-Atlantic. Virginia State police reported hundreds of crashes blamed on icy weather.

As for Delaware, DelDOT said storms were enough to keep “several hundred” employees activated from Friday until today, but they were “on top of it.”

Shoppers walk in the snow at Walmart in Camden on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“The storm was a bit of a late-bloomer, but it’s been a statewide event,” DelDOT spokesman Charles “CR” McLeod said on Saturday night. “We have hundreds of employees out continuing to salt and plow. One of the issues was that it hit hardest on the Saturday of a busy holiday weekend — lots of people are eager to be out and about shopping and doing other things.”

Mr. McLeod was aware of one car vs. plow collision in New Castle County (with no injuries to his knowledge).

“We really encourage motorists be drive carefully on the secondary roadways where there may still be slick spots,” he said. “And on primary roadways, be sure to give the plows and other equipment a wide berth to avoid any issues.”

Pre-treating roadways in the state with brine was helpful in their efforts to stay ahead of the storm, Mr. McLeod added.

A father carries his son after they played in the snow at Brecknock County Park in Camden on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“It helps a lot when we have the chance to do that, especially downstate,” he said. “We’ll usually only brine when the storm is not going to start as rain, otherwise it washes it away.

“The temperatures were cold enough that it has helped to keep a ground layer from accumulating. Thankfully, overall, I think we’ve been able to keep up with the storm really well.”

As of Saturday night, the National Weather Service was keeping their winter weather advisory in effect until the early morning hours today. They forecast a sunny day today with temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s throughout the state.

However, the weather service expects temperatures to dip back down below 30 degrees in the evening.

Either way, Mr. McLeod anticipates clearer roads.

“We always keep an eye on the overnight hours because it’s usually colder so some of the secondary roads can ice up,” he said. “We’ll continue work throughout Saturday night and into the morning where we will hopefully see higher temperatures and roadways shouldn’t be an issue.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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