Snow in forecast as frigid temps continue

Crossing guard Jong Rhaa stops traffic to allow Fairview Elementary School children to cross Walker Road in Dover on Tuesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — The brutal cold that has kept Delaware frozen for the past week is prepared to bring a close friend into the mix from late tonight into Thursday — snow.

A nor’easter is moving its way up the East Coast, but it has a lot of question marks attached to it.

The one certainty appears to be that snow will be moving into Delaware early Thursday morning and hanging around for a good portion of the day.

Exactly how much snow accumulates will depend on the track of the storm which will pass off the coast with winds up to 40 mph, according to Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“We are looking at snow moving into Delaware Wednesday night and hanging around throughout a good portion of Thursday,” Mr. Gaines said. “We are expecting a fairly decent range of snowfall from one to two inches in Wilmington to four to six inches in the southern portions of the state.

“The track of this storm is still uncertain, which could increase snowfall amounts.”

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for inland Sussex County from 7 tonight until Thursday at 5 p.m. as well as a Hazardous Weather Outlook for central and northern Delaware.

Snowfall amounts and the extent of impacts the state sees from this system will depend on how close the offshore low tracks to the coast, which is still uncertain at this time.

The NWS said the best chance for accumulation will be areas near and east of the Interstate 95 corridor.

“The snow looks to be arriving in Delaware after midnight with the peak of snow coming fairly close to rush hour Thursday morning,” Mr. Gaines said. “People should stay as updated as possible on the conditions.”

Strong winds might result in considerable blowing and drifting snow while significant reductions in visibility are possible.

Those snowy predictions can mean only one thing to many residents of Dover — Delawareans hitting grocery stores to make a run on milk, eggs, bread and toilet paper.

“My main annoyance is with those who automatically panic and buy the milk, eggs and bread but fail to really plan,” said Janice Roscoe Jordan of Dover. “These same people who are out driving while plows are still out, often darting around them and getting in the way.

“All because they ‘need’ something, are bored, or fail to contact less mobile family/friends to help them prepare and to make sure they have necessary food, water, fuel/heat, meds and pet needs — and thus creating an ‘emergency’ where someone else goes out when it’s unsafe.”

David Krauss, of Magnolia, had similar thoughts.

“Does everybody in Delaware have to make French toast whenever snow’s on the way?,” he said, “because they sure are always running to the store to buy up all of the milk, eggs and bread.

“It’s crazy how people seems to always be out of that stuff just when they say snow is on the way. What do they eat and drink on nice days?”

After the anticipated rush to the stores, one thing is for certain, the temperatures don’t look like they’ll be heating up any time soon.

The NWS said Wind Chill Advisories may be needed for late Thursday night into Friday morning and Friday night into Saturday morning with wind chills falling between 5-below and 15-below zero.

That’s keeping in line with the Arctic blast that has greeted 2018.

According to the NWS’s data, the lowest air temperature since Sunday has been 9 degrees, recorded on Jan. 1 at Dover Air Force Base. The wind chill factor that day was minus 5, also the lowest since Sunday.

In Georgetown, the lowest temperature recorded was 9 degrees on Sunday with a wind chill of 1 degree.

Code Purple provides sanctuary

Code Purple sanctuaries throughout the state are activated for people who are homeless, with additional nights expected through the weekend.

Rebecca Martin, director of Code Purple Kent County, said that for the past week, the shelters in Dover alone have been averaging around 57 to 60 people a night – which is a much higher average than normal.

“Our sanctuaries are filled up right now,” Ms. Martin said. “I expect that our Code Purple sanctuaries will be open for the next two weeks straight with the frigid weather. I know that I can’t wait for spring.”

Since most Code Purple sites use volunteers to manage operations, the activation and implementation vary by county and site.

To be connected to Code Purple resources, call Delaware 2-1-1, search for “Code Purple” on the Delaware 2-1-1 mobile app or on its website at www.delaware211.org and click on the Code Purple button.

Stay off the beach dunes, even in snow

With winter now in full force and predictions of snow in the forecast, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Parks & Recreation reminds residents and visitors that sledding or snowboarding are illegal on dunes within Delaware state parks.

“Dunes contain fragile habitat and provide protection for the beaches and the communities that border them,” said Pat Cooper, Cape Henlopen State Park superintendent. “Recent storms have already caused some damage, so we’re asking the public to help protect the dunes.”

Except for marked crossings, dunes are closed year-round to pedestrian traffic and activities in Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore state parks.

Pets get cold, too

The Delaware Division of Public Health reminds pet owners that harsh weather conditions and cold temperatures can also be harmful to their pet.

Bring pets indoors during cold temperatures.

Anyone that see a pet that has been left outdoors in cold temperatures without proper shelter or protection from the elements, food, or water, is asked to report it immediately to the Delaware Animal Services Hotline at 302-255-4646. For more information, visit: https://animalservices.delaware.gov/.

Tips from DelDOT

The Delaware Department of Transportation offered some tips on its Facebook page regarding driving in frigid conditions: When warming up the car, don’ t do it in an enclosed area; Make sure tires are properly inflated; Keep the gas tank at least half full; Don’t use cruise control if driving on slippery surface and drive safely and stay warm.

 

Shelters available

A number of churches and community centers will be open as Code Purple shelters to provide refuge for those who need a place to stay during the extremely cold temperatures forecast through next week. To be connected to Code Purple resources, call Delaware 2-1-1; search for “Code Purple” on the Delaware 2-1-1 mobile app or on its website at www.delaware211.org and click on the Code Purple button; or call the Delaware Housing Alliance’s Centralized Intake Line at 302-654-0126, ext. 112.

In Kent County

All sanctuaries open at 5 p.m. except Wesley Church, which opens at 5:30 p.m.

For men seeking shelter:

• Centennial United Methodist Church, 44 E. Mount Vernon St., Smyrna. 5 p.m.

• People’s Church of Dover, 46 S. Bradford St., Dover. 5 p.m.

For women and children:

• Christ Church, 523 S. State St., Dover. 5 p.m.
• Milford Community Center, 105 NE Front St. 5 p.m. • In addition, the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing Resource Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday and some Saturday mornings.

For information, call (800) 733-6816.

In Sussex County

• St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 202 N. North St., Seaford (men only). Check-in at 8:30 p.m.

• Gateway Fellowship, 8011 Cannon Road, Bridgeville (women and children only). Check-in at 8:30 p.m.

For both sites, dinner is provided at 7 p.m. at the CROSS building, 703 E. King St., Seaford, with transportation to Gateway Fellowship afterward.
• Avenue United Methodist Church, 20 N. Church St., Milford (men only). Check-in at 7 p.m.; meals provided on-site.

• OPENING JAN. 1: Laurel Nazarene, 100 Walnut Drive, Laurel (men, with separate space for fathers with children). Check-in at 7 p.m. Dinner provided at the CROSS building, 703 E. King St., Seaford, with transportation to and from the CROSS to be provided.

• Georgetown Presbyterian, 203 N. Bedford St., Georgetown. Call 302-344-1912 or leave a message at the church at 302-856-6842. The sanctuary is only open for extreme weather. People must call ahead about availability.

• Immanuel Code Purple Shelter, 37439 Oyster House Road, Rehoboth Beach, open nightly until April 1 regardless of the temperature (serving men and women). 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily.

For more information, call the hotline at 302-519-0024 or visit:

https://codepurplesussexcounty.com/

In New Castle County

• Salvation Army building, 400 N. Orange St. Those who seek overnight housing will receive a hot snack, continental breakfast and a shower.

• Newark Empowerment Center connects people with overnight stays at a rotating group of churches when Code Purple is declared in Wilmington. To register and receive location, call (302) 544-0165.

• In addition, the Sunday Breakfast Mission and the Rick VanStory Resource Center offer overnight shelter to men and women.

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

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