Snowstorm could dump 16 inches in area

22dsn snow map by .

The National Weather Service issued these snow projections late Thursday afternoon. The totals represent snow, in inches, through Sunday morning.

DOVER — Blizzard and coastal flooding watches begin tonight, with possibly 16 inches of snowfall the most likely scenario for northern and central Delaware.

According to the National Weather Service forecast on Thursday, snow could be heavy at times after arriving tonight, with an accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible overnight.

Sussex County is projected to possibly receive 4 to 8 inches of snow during the storm’s entirety through Saturday, with tapering amounts in the southern end.

There’s also the possibility of a little snow after 1 p.m. today in New Castle and Kent counties, with the clouds increasing in low 30-degree temperatures.

Heavy snow mixed with sleet are predicted for Saturday, with a high temperature near 35 degrees, wind gusts averaging 25 mph to 32 mph and reaching 55 mph while peaking near the Atlantic coast. The chance for precipitation is a certainty, according to the weather service, with another 4 to 8 inches arriving in Kent and New Castle counties.

The highest probability for blizzard conditions is Saturday, the weather service said. The blizzard and coastal flooding watches are in effect until Sunday morning.

A blizzard means the wind will at least 35 mph for at least three hours and with blowing snow that reduces visibility to less than a quarter mile.

Whiteout conditions are possible Saturday, making travel extremely dangerous, the NWS said. Power outages are possible, with snow clinging to wires and trees.

The snow may arrive as fluffy, but become wetter and heaver as the storm continues.

A chance of snow remains Sunday morning, likely before 11 a.m., officials said, with temperatures topping out near 37 degrees. No snow is forecast for the early days of next week, with temperatures rising slightly into the 40s.

At Dover Air Force Base, missions scheduled to leave over the weekend will depart early, ahead of the storm’s arrival, according to a spokesperson Thursday.

On Thursday, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Parks and Recreation issued a reminder that sledding on the dunes at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Parks is prohibited, and can damage dunes that protect Delaware’s ecosystem. Also, DNREC said, sledding will damage vegetation that holds sand in place to stabilize dunes.

“The dunes are the state’s first line of defense during coastal storms, providing protection for the beaches and the communities that border them,” said Parks & Recreation Natural Resources Police Chief Wayne Kline in a news release. “We want the public to know any activities that degrades or damages them — as sledding and snowboarding can — is against the law.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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