Nasty, wet, cold weather ushers in spring

P.J. McGill with AARP walks in the rain after leaving Legislative Hall on Tuesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Transportation, state and local police, as well as linemen for the area’s power companies are ready to take on the challenges posed by today’s anticipated snowstorm on the second day of spring.

They are all certainly growing accustomed to it, considering this will be the fourth nor’easter to hit Delaware over the past three weeks.
Carl Parker, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, said the recent run of nor’easters is extremely unusual.

“To have four nor’easters in as many weeks is an exceedingly rare occurrence, and you can almost hear the collective muttering along the I-95 corridor,” Mr. Parker said. “This storm will take aim on the mid-Atlantic region.”

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning that will remain in effect until 2 a.m. Thursday, as well as a coastal flood warning that will last until 5 that morning.

“Heavy mixed precipitation is expected,” according to the NWS. “Total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches, with localized amounts up to 12 inches, are expected.

“In addition, north to northeast winds will gust 30 to 45 mph at times with potential for stronger gusts near the coast.”

Mike Lichniak, a meteorologist for WBOC-TV, told viewers in a Facebook Live post that they could expect Tuesday’s rain to switch over to snow at around 7 or 8 this morning in Dover.

The location of a pair of heavy snow bands during the storm will determine which areas receive the most snow, he said. The snow will be heavy at times this afternoon and early evening before it gradually tapers off tonight.

“It’s a little bit of a crazy day here on Delmarva for the first day of spring,” Mr. Lichniak said, on Tuesday. “We’re in it together and we’ll get through it together.

“Overall, this is going to be a pretty straight forward nor’easter here on Delmarva. The snow is going to start (today) during the morning and will continue into the afternoon and evening hours.”

Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe, spokesman for the Delaware State Police, said Delaware residents should be prepared for a significant weather event.

A woman uses her umbrella to shield from the wind and rain in front of the Delaware Archive building in Dover on Tuesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“This is forecasted to be a heavy, wet snow which will be difficult to shovel and will stick to trees and power lines,” she said. “It is likely that the snowfall and combination of strong winds could lead to power outages and tree damage.

“Coastal flooding is also a concern, with minor flooding expected (Tuesday night) and minor to moderate flooding throughout the day (today).”

Preparing for spring snow

Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen urged the city’s residents to be prepared for the impending storm.

“My advice to our citizens is to be safe,” Mayor Christiansen said. “Remember, heavy snow may bring trees and wires down. Please don’t attempt to move them. The police and fire department, as well as city electric and public works crews, are on standby for any and all emergencies.

In addition to keeping a radio, batteries and other necessities on hand, he asked residents to use emergency numbers to report emergencies and call 736-7086 for public utilities emergencies as well as observe snow emergency routes if put into effect.

The city of Dover Police Department said it will continue normal patrol operations throughout the storm and has a fleet of 4-by-4 vehicles prepared to go.

Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, spokesman for the Dover police, said, “The following streets must be cleared of parked vehicles within one hour of the first snowfall: Division Street, Water Street, Governors Avenue and State Street. Vehicles not moved are subject to ticketing and towing at the owners’ expense by the city of Dover police.”

Master Cpl. Hoffman also noted that city of Dover residents must clear their sidewalks of snow within 24 hours after final snowfall —a code strictly enforced by the city’s Inspections/Code Enforcement Department.

Due to the weather, the city cancelled its trash and curbside recycling collection for Wednesday and possibly later depending on snow accumulations and plowing required.

Stay off the roads if possible

Pam Lilly, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the organization is prepared for a long day or plowing and salting roads up and down the state today.

“DelDOT’s officials will continue to monitor the most current weather forecasts and dispatch crews,” Ms. Lilly said.

“Motorists can expect deteriorating road conditions throughout the day (today).”

She said motorists may call the Transportation Management Center to report any travel or traffic related issues; dial #77 from any cell phone in Delaware; (302) 659-4600; or 1-800-324-8379.

With plowing taking place, Dover police urged the need for people to try to stay off the roads once the snow begins to fall.

Master Cpl. Jaffe echoed that sentiment. “Most calls for service received by troopers during winter storms are for vehicle crashes, disabled vehicles and abandoned vehicles which cause a major problem for DelDOT snow removal equipment and for troopers responding to emergency situations. Troopers strongly encourage motorists to avoid unnecessary travel.”

Sussex prepares for wallop

Sussex County emergency officials were bracing for several inches of heavy, wet snow, strong winds, beach erosion, coastal flooding and even some possible ‘thundersnow.’

Along with an estimated 4 to 10 inches of snow that’s expected to fall on Sussex County, 50 mph winds out of the east and northeast are expected to cause minor and moderate coastal flooding in low-lying areas, especially during times of high tide, along the Atlantic-facing beaches, Delaware Bay and around the county’s Inland Bays.

Tides could run 1 to 3 feet above normal during the nor’easter.

“Our greatest concern with storm systems like this is not just the snow and mixed precipitation, but the strong winds and tides continuing over several tide cycles,” Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “It just compounds the situation.

Fighting to keep the power on

Jake Sneeden, spokesman for Delmarva Power, said his organization is as prepared as it can be.

“All available personnel are standing by to restore service for customers as safely and quickly as possible,” he said.

“In addition to 240 internal linemen, Delmarva Power has more than 250 overhead line contractors and tree crew personnel to support customers across its service area.

“If outages do occur, field crews and personnel will work to repair the damage and safely restore service for customers as quickly as possible.”

Workers for Delaware Electric Cooperative and others are also paying attention to the storm.

Postponements likely …

The nor’easter will likely spawn more than a few postponements and possible school cancellations today.

DelDOT announced one of the first postponements on Tuesday when it rescheduled a public workshop to solicit public input on the proposed multi-use trail along East Lebanon Road (Del. 10) from the Gateway Shopping Center to South State Street in Dover.

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

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