March blowing in with a bite: Nor’easter to be felt today

 

DOVER — Weather folklore has long insisted that March is a month that roars in like a lion.

Those words will definitely ring true today as Delawareans will be greeted with howling winds and rain all day, fueled by a nor’easter as it intensifies off the Northeast coast in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The powerful winds, which could reach up to 60 mph, could lead to potentially widespread power outages as power lines and trees might fall in what may be the strongest wind event to hit the Mid-Atlantic region since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Joe Miketta, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said there is little doubt as to what will be the greatest thing to fear from the nor’easter in Delaware.

“I’d say probably the wind,” Mr. Miketta said. “The wind will pick up (this) morning from 50 to 60 miles per hour with sustained 30 to 35 mile per hour winds throughout the day.

“So, the winds will be howling and they are not going to go away really quickly, either. It will be a slow decay. Everybody is going to feel the winds.”

The National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, issued a high wind warning which is in effect from 3 a.m. today until 6 a.m. Saturday.

There is also a coastal flood watch in effect for coastal areas in Kent and Sussex counties from late Thursday night through late Saturday night.

It’s more than enough to have workers from Delaware Electric Cooperative on edge for the expected sustained event.

“We’re absolutely prepared for a big event,” said Jeremy Tucker, a spokesman for Delaware Electric Cooperative. “We’re expecting 60 to 65 mile per hour wind gusts, which is more than enough to knock down trees and power lines.

“We are confident we will be seeing at least some minor power outages (today) and are prepared for widespread outages.”

Mr. Tucker said that anybody who experiences a power failure or sees a downed tree or power line should call the Delaware Electric Cooperative’s main line at 855-332-9090.

Mr. Miketta said the National Weather Service’s forecast for today in Kent County is a 60 percent chance of rain with a northwest wind 23 to 28 mph increasing to 29 to 34 mph in the afternoon. The high temperature should reach near 44 degrees.

There remains a 50 percent chance of rain showers before 1 a.m. tonight, then a chance of rain and snow showers — with little or no accumulation expected — and a low around 34.

“There may be an inch of rain or so for Dover so that won’t be anything to be too concerned about,” Mr. Miketta said. “But the winds are going to be sustaining stress on everything because it’s going to be blowing so hard and for so long that maybe some trees or power lines may come down.

“There also might be a push of minor flooding from the Delaware Bay around Dover, but it shouldn’t be too big of an issue. They may experience a little more flooding on the oceanfront in Sussex County.”

The National Weather Service said numerous roadways are expected to flood and minor to moderate property damage is possible. The tides and wave action will likely result in moderate beach erosion.

AAA Mid-Atlantic officials are cautioning homeowners to keep an eye out for structural damage to property. They noted that the nor’easter could also slap parts of the East Coast with heavy snow and coastal flooding, which, in turn, could put “more than $468 billion of real estate at risk” to flood waters, according to the Claims Journal.

Losses from weather and climate disasters reached a record $306 billion during 2017, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

AAA is also warning motorists to use caution driving today and keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Winds of 50 to 60 mph could coincide with this morning’s commute, causing delays.

“Many motorists view rain storms as more of an inconvenience than a hazard,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As a result, drivers tend to be less cautious than they should be.

“The most important steps to take when driving in wet weather are to buckle up, slow down and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.”

She added that drivers should be on the lookout for flying projectiles such as signs, trash cans, pieces of metal, tree limbs, cones, etc., that could damage their vehicles.

She also cautions that if people can avoid it, not to park their vehicle near a tree or anything else that could topple on it.

The National Weather Service said Saturday should start to provide some relief, as it is calling for partly sunny skies in Kent County with a high near 48.

It will remain breezy, with a north wind 21 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph, before they finally start to back off somewhat in the evening hours.

“The winds will definitely take a while to calm down,” Mr. Miketta said. “For the Dover area, I would suspect that they will be the biggest thing to worry about with this system.”

 

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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