Morning storm knocks out power to many in Kent, Sussex counties

High winds brought down a tree into the power line at the corner of East Division Street and South American Avenue in Dover on Friday morning. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

DOVER — Howling wind gusts and rain downpours joined unseasonably warm weather Friday morning as many residents in Kent and Sussex counties experienced power outages due to downed power lines, flying trash cans, stop-light outages and affiliated problems.

The storms arrived at around 10 a.m. in Kent and Sussex counties and lasted until about 11:45 a.m.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Mount Holly, New Jersey, issued a wind advisory at 10:07 a.m. for Dover and Camden, calling for west winds from 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 55 mph. The oncoming storm lived up to its nasty expectations.

Jeremy Tucker, spokesman for Delaware Electric Co-op, said more than 800 customers were left without power Friday morning and the number increased by the afternoon.

“We do have several outages,” Mr. Tucker said, “I wish we could say that we don’t but that’s not the case. As of noon, we had 800 co-op homes without power spread across Kent and Sussex counties.

“There are numerous trees, poles and lines down. We’re guessing it’s going to be at least a couple of hours before we see total restoration when it comes to power and we could see some of the trouble spots last into the evening hours.”

Strong winds damaged the roof at the Sandcastle Motel on Second Street and Rehoboth Avenue in downtown Rehoboth Beach on Friday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

Mr. Tucker said the power outages were spread from Smyrna to Selbyville due to widespread wind gusts.

He added that as of 3:15 Friday afternoon that Delaware Electric Co-op was having issues with its substation serving the Georgetown area, leaving 4,200 members without electricity.

“We are very busy (Friday) and it’s probably going to be busy even (Friday) evening,” said Mr. Tucker. “Our crews will work diligently until all of our customers have their power restored.”

The city of Dover said that due to a power outage Friday morning that it temporarily closed its Customer Service Building (Weyandt Hall), located at 5 E. Reed Street. It reopened around noon when power was restored.

There was also a tree down at East Division and American Avenue and the city had a blown transformer and primary lines down.

Central Middle School in Dover lost power briefly during the storm.

The school posted on social media, “Central Middle School is open and instruction continued during the brief power outage. We are grateful to the city for how quickly they got things turned on for us and our neighbors!”

The NWS issued a tornado warning for northern New Castle County, Salem, New Jersey, Cecil County, Maryland, and parts of Chester and Delaware counties in Pennsylvania around 9:40 a.m. Friday.

Several homes and businesses suffered structural damage in New Castle County and the NWS is investigating the storm, which would be a rare February tornado if confirmed.

Meteorologists from the NWS don’t expect nearly as much as excitement from Saturday’s weather.

They are calling for sunny skies with a high near 44 degrees and a west wind blowing from 7 to 14 mph, becoming calm by the evening.