Storm will bring snow, wind to Central and Southern Delaware

National Weather Service snowfall projection, released early Wednesday afternoon.

DOVER — A storm coming off the ocean will bring snow, strong winds and bitter cold temperatures to Delaware, starting tonight.

In a winter weather advisory issued Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said it will be a “high impact storm including the aftermath of wind driven record cold on its way to our area.”

The National Weather Service said snow could start falling as early as 7 p.m.. in Sussex County and 10 p.m. in Kent County tonight, but mainly after 1 a.m.

Snow accumulation of 2-4 inches is possible in the Dover area overnight, and continue through early afternoon Thursday with another 2-4 inches.

Blustery northwest winds of 21-25 mph, with gusts as high as 43 mph, are expected Thursday in Kent County. The high will be about 27 degrees.

The forecasters said it would be bitterly cold Thursday night with a low around 10 and wind chill value as low as minus 5.

In Sussex, 3-5 inches of snow could fall overnight, with 2-4 more Thursday during the day.

Forecasters said Delaware should plan on slippery road conditions, including during the morning commute on Thursday. In addition, areas of poor visibility are expected.

“Winds gusting as high as 45 mph will cause areas of blowing and drifting snow,” forecasters said. “Scattered power outages could develop Thursday and Friday which would force considerable hardship where heat would not be available.”

High temperatures are expected to be in the teens Friday and Saturday.

DelDOT preparation 

As of Wednesday afternoon, DelDOT crews were pre-treating primary roadways with brine — focusing in Kent and Sussex counties.

“We always hit the primary roads first such as Routes 1, 13 and 113,” said DelDOT spokesman Charles “C.R.” McLeod. “If there’s time before the snow starts falling we’ll move on to the secondary roads. The brine really makes a difference in helping us stay on top of conditions.”

Mr. McLeod said the forecast winter storm has DelDOT’s entire response team of about 500 employees and 400 plow trucks on standby for this evening.

“For an expected statewide event like this, we get everyone ready,” he said. “Our response will be concentrated in certain areas depending on where we’re seeing the most intense snow, which as of the most recent forecast, looks like it’s going to be in Sussex County.”

Both high winds and ensuing frigid temperatures are expected to complicate snow removal efforts, said Mr. McLeod.

“If we get several inches of snow and also see the high winds, that’ll lead to a lot of drifting — that can make roads hazardous and slow down our snow clearing operation,” he added. “Also, if we get the more substantial arctic blast predicted to hit after the storm, that can reduce the effectiveness of our salt on the roads. When temperatures stay in the mid-teens, the salt doesn’t melt ice and snow as well. Realistically, it just means we’ll have to continuously hit the same roads, which we’re prepared to do, it just might slow things down a bit.”

DelDOT always recommends limiting travel during snowstorms and closely monitoring the roads before driving during potentially hazardous conditions.

“Check to see if there are any driving restrictions in place before heading out anywhere,” said Mr. McLeod. “We aren’t anticipating any yet, but folks should try to inform themselves about what they’re heading into. Also, make sure to give the plow trucks plenty of room. This will ensure everyone’s safety.”

Until this evening, much of DelDOT’s staff will be perched on the end of their seats as they wait for the first flakes to fall.

“This is one of those winter storms where there is still a ton of uncertainty — some models we see say 1 to 3 inches, but there are others that say 10 inches,” said Mr. McLeod. “It’s one of those storms where we have to prepare for the worst, but at the last minute, the bulk of the storm could abruptly turn out to sea. We’ll wait and see, but we’re geared up for it.”

When salting and plowing operations are under way, DelDOT officials urge residents to use the DelDOT app, or go to DelDOT.gov to see real-time traffic cameras, weather station data and even snowfall accumulation.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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