Stormy weekend bringing lots of rain, flooding

otorists navigate flooded roads in Wyoming on Friday morning. Heavy rains caused weekend events to be postponed. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Motorists navigate flooded roads in Wyoming on Friday morning. Heavy rains caused weekend events to be postponed. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — After uncertain predictions Thursday that Hurricane Joaquin would pass close by Delaware, updated projections reveal the storm will miss the First State entirely.

Nonetheless, the state continues to be pounded by adverse conditions from a Nor’easter, particularly in Sussex County. That’s where a limited state of emergency was put in place Friday and the National Guard dispatched.

“A high-impact weather pattern is affecting our region,” a Friday National Weather Service briefing stated. “Main threats are major coastal flooding with heavy surf and beach erosion, as well as very strong winds along Atlantic coastal areas.

“The threat of major impacts from Hurricane Joaquin has greatly lessened for our region.”

03dsn Flooded Roads 002

llabands Road near Wyoming was almost completely flooded over early Friday.

While many events have been disrupted, others still could be held today and Sunday.

Friday’s Drive Sober 125 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover International Speedway was moved to 9:30 this morning.

Anyone with a ticket for either the Drive Sober 125 or the afternoon Hisense 200 Xfinity race will be able to attend both races.

Sunday’s AAA 400 Sprint Cup race is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. Even if it rains, the race could be run if rain halts by 1:30, according to the speedway. That seems more likely today than it did Thursday.

Currently in the Bahamas, Joaquin is expected to move up along the East Coast, but will remain well offshore over the next three days. The National Weather Service said Joaquin will not make landfall in the United States.

For Delaware, that’s a welcome break, especially as wind and rain from a smaller and unrelated storm blast the area.

Hubbard Avenue in Bowers Beach was under water Friday afternoon.

Hubbard Avenue in Bowers Beach was under water Friday afternoon.

A wave of low pressure has been moving along a stalled front located just offshore, producing rain, NWS meteorologist Lance Franck said Thursday.

Delaware is in a coastal flood warning until Tuesday. There is a 70 percent chance of precipitation today. Sunday has a 50 percent probability of rain, according to the NWS. Delaware received about three-quarters of an inch of rain Thursday and was predicted to possibly get about an inch and half Friday, with small amounts coming today and Sunday.

Wind is expected through the weekend, mostly staying around 25 mph, although gusts could reach into the low 30s Sunday.

Even if Hurricane Joaquin misses Delaware, officials have advised individuals to be cautious. Coastal flooding could threaten many areas in Sussex County, and state agencies were preparing to respond if need be.

Gov. Jack Markell declared a limited state of emergency for Sussex County around noon. No driving restrictions were put in place, but Prime Hook Road in Milton, River Road in Oak Orchard and Front Street in Milford were already closed and dozens of roads in Kent and Sussex had water on them.

Between 2 p.m. Thursday and 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dover had recorded 2 1/2 inches of rain.

Motorists brave the high water on an almost impassable Del. 9 in Little Creek on Friday afternoon.

Motorists brave the high water on an almost impassable Del. 9 in Little Creek on Friday afternoon.

According to fire company personnel, the Frederica and Bowers Beach area had minimal issues connected to the heavy rain.

In Frederica, two vehicles were reportedly stalled in water nearly to the bumpers on Market Street at approximately 1:45 p.m. but were eventually able to drive out on their own. The Delaware Department of Transportation later arrived to put road signs at both ends of Market Street.

Just after 3 p.m., Bowers Fire Company Chief Jeff Morris said the Delaware Bay tide hadn’t risen to a concerning level, but would continued to be monitored into Saturday.

Chief Morris described town streets as having a couple inches of water on them, with six to eight inches on the side at a couple spots. The water was running off nicely into town drains, he said.

“Rain doesn’t bother us because we have the biggest water dumping spot on the East Coast (with the Delaware Bay),” Chief Morris said.

“As long as the tide is down all we get is a little surface water that runs into the drain and then eventually into the bay.”

Residents along the lower Delaware Bay should be cautious and consider evacuating, the governor’s office urged.

Problematic areas Friday included Lewes Beach, Slaughter Beach, Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, inland bay communities and flood-prone areas near the Nanticoke and Broad Creek rivers and along John J. Williams Highway, Vines Creek Road, Atlantic Avenue and Lighthouse Road.

The Crab Connection’s parking lot in Little Creek was a small lake Friday afternoon.

The Crab Connection’s parking lot in Little Creek was a small lake Friday afternoon.

Jim Westoff, Delaware Department of Transportation’s community relations officer, announced that as of about 3 p.m. Friday, Del. 1 was closed in both directions from Dewey Beach to Fred Hudson Road.

“Though predicted rainfall totals have dropped and the expected path of Hurricane Joaquin remains well off-coast, high winds and coastal flooding will significantly impact Sussex County,” the governor said in a statement Friday.

“State and local officials are taking the necessary steps to prepare for possible evacuations and road closures and the National Guard has been deployed to Kent and Sussex counties to support those efforts, as needed. Residents in flood-prone areas of the state should prepare accordingly and continue to monitor communications from state and local agencies for updates.”

States of emergencies are “made on a case-by-case basis and dependent on several factors, including road conditions, weather forecasts and feedback from state and local agencies throughout Delaware,” said Kelly Bachman, a spokeswoman for the governor, in an email.

The last state of emergency issued in Delaware was March 2, 2014, due to a snowstorm.

On Friday, some schools were closed and others let out early.

The Department of Transportation had prepared a number of loaders near coastal areas in case sand and rain

STORM POSTPONEMENTS • Law Enforcement Appreciation Night, postponed because of the weather, has been rescheduled for Oct. 8. The outdoor event, sponsored by state Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden-Woodside, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Tre Sorelle Dolce Ice Cream & Italian Ice at 11 S. Railroad Ave., Wyoming. • The Public Servants Memorial Sign Ceremony  to honor Trooper First Class Raymond B. Wilhelm at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 15 on US 40, Pulaski Highway, in Glasgow, about two miles east of Del. 72. This event is open to the public. Trooper Wilhelm was killed in a vehicle crash when his patrol vehicle overturned after he swerved to avoid a dog in the roadway on May 30, 1951. • Today’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach has been canceled. According to the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley there are no plans to reschedule this event.

STORM POSTPONEMENTS
• Law Enforcement Appreciation Night, postponed because of the weather, has been rescheduled for Oct. 8. The outdoor event, sponsored by state Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden-Woodside, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Tre Sorelle Dolce Ice Cream & Italian Ice at 11 S. Railroad Ave., Wyoming.
• The Public Servants Memorial Sign Ceremony to honor Trooper First Class Raymond B. Wilhelm at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 15 on US 40, Pulaski Highway, in Glasgow, about two miles east of Del. 72. This event is open to the public. Trooper Wilhelm was killed in a vehicle crash when his patrol vehicle overturned after he swerved to avoid a dog in the roadway on May 30, 1951.
• Today’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach has been canceled. According to the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley there are no plans to reschedule this event.

washed away roads, while Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control personnel had done what they could to fortify the beaches and closely were monitoring the conditions along the shore. DelDOT crews have been working since Thursday to clear roadways and drains and place signs warning of flooded streets in affected areas.

Meteorologists over the past two days had spoken of the potential for the East Coast to be hit hard by the hurricane but also had noted the storm’s path was far from certain.

While Joaquin’s threat has been lessened, it is not completely removed, the NWS stressed. Rain and wind from the hurricane could have an impact on Delaware, especially as the current storm stands as an obstacle to preparedness.

Overall though, it appears Delaware — and the rest of the East Coast — will be lucky.

By Monday, the NWS reports, things could all be back to normal.

Staff writer Craig Anderson contributed to this report. 

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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