Still extremely cold, but road conditions improving

Snow blows across Rt 13 near Woodside on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Cleanup crews turned onto subdivision roadways and expected to clear them by the end of the day, officials said Saturday.

Snow-covered avenues remained in Sussex County, but they were at least considered passable, a marked improvement from the day before. Sunny skies and lessening winds were significant factors in the recovery.

“Road conditions are much better today,” Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman C.R. McLeod reported early in the afternoon.

“The wind has finally slowed down. Plows have been pushing the drifting snow back everywhere …”

The storm’s impact on the state budget continued to rise as efforts requiring overtime work and salt drops were still necessary.

“We will put rock salt down which helps with traction, but is not as effective at melting ice in extreme cold temperatures so motorists still should be cautious for icy roads,” Mr. McLeod said.

Snow blows across Rt 13 near Canterbury on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DelDOT crews have been active since 10 p.m. Wednesday and worked around the clock with five hours rest for every 24 hour period.

“Crews have worked diligently through the storm and are looking forward to completing intensive cleanup efforts and getting back to a normal routine,” Mr. McLeod said.

Along with contracted crews in Sussex County, DelDOT employed deployed additional plows down from New Castle County “which received much less snow and cleanup efforts were completed much quicker,” Mr. McLeod said.

“To that point, Sussex bore the brunt of this storm and the impacts in Kent and New Castle were significantly less.”

Late Friday night near Bridgeville, two tractor trailers became disabled on what the Delaware State Police described as “impassable roadways.” Heavy delays were expected on Wesley Church Road and motorists were advised to take alternate paths.

A DelDOT snowplow drives on Rt 15 near Canterbury on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Though Gov. John Carney terminated an official State of Emergency declaration in Sussex County, a wind chill advisory remained in place statewide until 10 a.m. today.

Many Code Purple shelters were open for the weekend, based on volunteer availability to manage the sites. Information was available by calling Delaware 211 or by clicking the Code Purple button online at www.delaware211.org.

The Office of Animal Welfare said an increased number of calls about domestic pets in distress kept officers busy throughout Delaware. The zero degrees to 15 below wind chills forecast made each complaint a priority, the OAW said.

“If you’re cold, they’re cold,” said OAW Acting Director Christina Motoyoshi in a news release. “Like people, dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside when the temperatures get this low.”

Concerns about pets can be called into the Delaware Animal Services Hotline at 255-4646. Officials asked that only cases with witnesses physically verifying believed improper treatment or care of an animal to call. More information is available online at animalservices.delaware.gov/.

The OAW issued recommendations to keep animals safe during the extended extreme chill, including:

• Limit time outside. Keep walks short and wipe off your dog’s legs, paws and stomach with a towel when coming in from walks or from being outside.

• Ensure access to water at all times. Frequently check water bowls to ensure water is not frozen. If you typically use a metal watering bowl, replace it with plastic as a pet’s tongue can get stuck to metal in cold temperatures.

• Additional food may be needed. Animals burn more calories in cold temperatures in order to stay warm, so you may need to increase the amount of food you provide. Check with your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs in cold weather.

• Keep your dog on a leash at all times while outdoors. Dogs can lose their scent and get lost when snow or ice is on the ground, especially during snowstorms.

• Outdoor cats need attention, too. Whether outdoor cats are owned, stray, or feral, they need the same protection from cold weather as your pets. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, provide them with dry, warm shelter, as well as food and water to help them survive dangerously low temperatures. For your own safety, do not handle any unfamiliar animals, particularly if the rabies vaccination status is unknown. An animal may have rabies and not exhibit any external signs.

Heading into the weekend, the National Weather Service forecast that today’s high in Kent County will be near 20 with lighter northwest winds becoming southwest in the afternoon. Sunday will be the 12th consecutive day without reaching a temperature above freezing.

Monday’s high is expected to be 39.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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