Snow big deal: Nor’easter blankets Dover

Joseph Noble with MidDel Hydro Seeding shovels snow at Walgreens in Dover on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — The heavy, wet snow that fell on Kent County for most of Wednesday was magnificent to look at as it piled up on the ground and on top of tree branches, but it turned out to be dangerous as well.

The National Weather Service said winds that gusted from 30 to 45 mph, along with the weight of the snow, combined to knock down numerous trees and power lines as a nor’easter swatted Delaware for the fourth time in the past three weeks.

Matt Poore uses a snow pusher to clear a sidewalk at Bayhealth Kent General in Dover on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

According to the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, some 4,100 people were left without power at some point by Wednesday afternoon – the majority of which were in western Kent County – and blowing snow contributed to numerous minor car crashes across the state.

The National Weather Service was anticipating heavy snow to remain through the evening hours, with additional accumulations of 5 to 8 inches and localized amounts up to one foot expected in central Delaware.

The NWS said snow rates of one to two inches per hour were possible and that the snow would begin to taper off overnight before its Winter Storm Warning expired at 2 a.m. today.

Effective at midnight, a statewide state of emergency, which began Tuesday night, and a Level 1 Driving Warning that went into effect Wednesday afternoon for Kent and New Castle counties were lifted, according to Gov. John Carney.

Snow covered trees surround the old Kent County Courthouse on The Green in Dover on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“Drivers should continue to exercise caution as DelDOT continues to clear roadways,” he said in a statement late Wednesday. “Thank you to our DelDOT crews, the Delaware National Guard, and all state and local officials for their response efforts throughout this storm.”

State of Delaware offices in Kent and New Castle counties will open at 10 a.m. today. Capital, Caesar Rodney, Smyrna and Polytech school districts announced Wednesday night that they would be closed today.

“Due to the large amounts of wet heavy snow, clearing secondary roads, sidewalks and entrances will be time consuming. Therefore, all schools and offices in the Capital School District will remain CLOSED on Thursday, March 22nd,” a statement from the district read.

Snowfall totals varied from county to county throughout the state by 7:30 p.m., with more snow upstate than downstate, which was forced to battle coastal flooding.

By 7:30 p.m., Woodside had accumulated the most snow in the state at 6.1 inches while Blackbird had 5.9 and Glasgow had 5.8 inches. The totals got lower in cities and towns in Sussex County.

Dover had 4.7 inches while Smyrna had 3.8 and Harrington had 3.8 inches in the early evening hours.

A man holds on to his friend so he doesn’t fall on the slippery road in Dover on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Most residents of the Dover area seemed to be happy to get an early spring reprieve from work and school and, hopefully, one last taste of winter.

“What a beautiful day. I love the snow,” said Roxanne Eller, of Kenton. “I don’t care if it’ the first day of spring or not. I’m enjoying every minute of it.

“Plus, I got a snow day with my angel (granddaughter). What a perfect day.”

Kin Yates, of Magnolia, said she put the day to good use by getting out her laptop and making vacation reservations for a much warmer climate in Mexico.

“See what a snowy day off does?,” she said. “It made me book a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny! Oh, how I’ve missed Mexico.
“I don’t like snow at all. I am ready for warm weather, as you can tell.”

The nasty weather prompted numerous cancelations, including all school districts throughout Delaware, on Wednesday.

A DelDot plow drops salt on RT 13 near Camden on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

It all started at midnight when the governor issued a State of Emergency statewide authorizing the Delaware National Guard to assist state and local officials with any necessary response and recovery efforts.

The authorization allowed the National Guard to mobilize resources to assist with response related to heavy snow in New Castle County and potential coastal flooding in Kent and Sussex counties.

The State of Emergency also directs state agencies to assist in response and recovery efforts in coordination with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. The State of Emergency will remain in effect until further notice.

Just after 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Gov. Carney announced that State of Delaware offices in Kent County would be closing for the day from noon until 11:59 p.m. due to the inclement weather – joining their New Castle counterparts.

Non-essential employees for the state who live or work in Kent County were told to leave for the day at noon. Essential employees remained at work and reported as scheduled.

Denise Devine brushes snow off her car in Dover on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

City of Dover officials announced around 10:30 a.m. that its offices, the public library and John W. Pitts Recreation Center would be closing at 11 a.m. due to the weather.

The Dover Public Library also announced that Wednesday’s meeting of the Other Worlds Book Club, which meets at Grey Fox Grille & Public House on State Street in Dover, was cancelled due to the inclement weather. A makeup date has not been set.

All DART bus service in Kent and New Castle counties was suspended at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Heavy, wet snow is falling along the I-95 corridor (Wednesday), but the high sun angle on this first full day of spring is helping with the roads,” said Carl Parker, a meteorologist with The Weather Channel. “Still, travel will be hazardous as the snowfall rates step up late this afternoon in New York City and later this evening in Boston.

“While quite large, this system is not as intense as the previous storms, thus the worst of the wind will be confined to coastal areas of New England. Minor to moderate coastal flooding is expected from Delaware to Maine.”

The NWS is not forecasting any precipitation over the next three days with high temperatures in the low 40-degree range.

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

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