Update: Tropical Storm Fay dampens Delaware, causes difficult driving conditions

The Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk had plenty space on it Friday due to Tropical Storm Fay. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

DOVER — Heavy rain and wind gusts from Tropical Storm Fay battered Delaware all day long — leaving standing water on roads and creating traffic headaches — dealing out one dreary, soggy Friday.

A flash flood warning and tropical storm warning were in effect for parts of Delaware for much of the day, outlining potential wind gusts of 39 to 57 mph and a storm surge. The tropical storm slightly picked up speed and strength as it moved closer to land Friday before finally leaving the First State at around 4:30 p.m.

Several beaches in Delaware were temporarily closed Friday morning as the fast-moving Tropical Storm Fay churned north on a path expected to soak the New York City region.

Cars had trouble getting through some spots on Friday because of flooding on the roads. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

Rehoboth Beach Town Manager Sharon Lynn said Sussex, Rodney and St. Lawrence streets were the only roads closed in the town due to flooding.

“They were closed for approximately an hour when we had that deluge (Friday) morning of heavy rain,” Ms. Lynn said. “We were able to open them fairly quickly within an hour and a half, between eight and nine o’clock (Friday) morning.”

Otherwise, surrounding beach towns didn’t report major street closures. Many town officials did note seeing quite a bit of standing water on the roads, remaining even later into the afternoon after the rain had slowed.

A man unblocks a storm drain Friday during the heavy rain from Tropical Storm Faye.

Anne Marie Townshend, town manager for Lewes, said she saw several streets in Lewes with heavy flooding.

“The areas that really tend to get standing water are over on Lewes beach,” she said. “There’s some areas along Cedar Street, actually just off of Savannah Road on Cedar Street where there’s quite a bit of water on the road, and then out in the area and then just beyond the Children’s Beach House.

“Again, it’s quite a bit of water on Cedar Street, and then some of the side streets also have some ponding. It wasn’t impassible, but It was definitely noticeable.”

Dewey Beach Town Manager Scott Koenig reported some standing water issues, including street flooding and heavy rain.

“We have had heavy rains and some wind,” Mr. Koenig said. “There’s been some localized flooding on roads and flooding everywhere that typically floods. I am not aware of any wind damage. Also, I have not heard of any significant erosion of the beach, but I have not been out on the beach.”

As far as wind damage, most towns appeared to have held up well as the storm passed.

“Our beach parking lot had quite a bit of sand in it that our staff is going to have to clean up and put back on the beach,” Ms. Townshend said. “I wasn’t on the beach so I wouldn’t know what the erosion looked like, but I didn’t see any damage. We had a few signs blow down but nothing major.”

Beaches were also closed this morning when a National Weather Advisory sent out at around 8:30 warned of heavy rain and high winds. Ms. Lynn said it is standard to close all beaches when national weather alerts are issued.

“We always close the beaches during a storm like that, because of the rip current, of course, we wouldn’t allow swimming at this time,” Ms. Lynn said. “

The rainfall led to dangerous driving conditions throughout Del-aware, particularly in Kent and Sussex counties.

“Many motorists view rainstorms as more of an inconvenience than a hazard,” said Ken Grant, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As a result, drivers tend to be less cautious than they should be. The most important steps to take when driving in wet weather are to buckle up, slow down, and if you see ponding water turn around, don’t drown.”

A flash flood warning and tropical storm warning were in effect for parts of Delaware on Friday, outlining potential wind gusts of 39 to 57 mph and a storm surge. A high rip current risk was also in effect.

As of 2 p.m., Delaware Electric Cooperative was reporting 507 customers with power outages, including 492 between Kenton and Smyrna. They had reduced those outages to just five customers by 5 p.m. Delmarva Power reported 25 outages at 2 p.m. and 30 at 5 p.m.

The Delaware Environmental Observing System reported wind gusts of 35.4 mph in Prime Hook; 30.7 at Prime Hook; 30.6 in Georgetown; 17.8 in Dover; and 44.6 at the Indian River Inlet.

As for 24-hour rainfall totals, the system reported the highest rainfall in Rehoboth Beach with 5.5 inches. Coastal towns saw around 4.5 to 5 inches with inland areas recording 3 to 4-plus inches of rain.

The storm picked up speed Friday morning, moving north around 12 mph (19kph) and producing top sustained winds of 60 mph (97 kph), forecasters said. Earlier observations showed it moving at 8 mph (13 kph) with top sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph).

Fay organized rapidly overnight, with moisture filling in across the circulation’s western half. Its rain drenched the Delmarva Peninsula, but never made it west of the Chesapeake Bay.

Fay is the earliest sixth-named storm on record, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous record was Franklin on July 22, 2005, Mr. Klotzbach tweeted.

Two named storms formed before the official June 1 start of the hurricane season. None of this season’s previous five named storms strengthened into hurricanes.