Winter storm causes closings, accidents

DOVER — Though snow fell heavily for several hours in the late morning — mostly in the north part and middle of the state — the winter storm was less severe than expected by most accounts.

“The storm underperformed according to the earlier forecasts and moved out sooner than expected,” said DelDOT spokesman C.R. McLeod. “With temperatures rising we aren’t anticipating any further freezing problems especially in the lower part of the state, and temperatures will climb into the 50’s tomorrow.”

Though the active snowing has subsided, the agency reminds motorists to exercise caution.

“For motorists, if they have snow on their car, take the time to clean it off,” said Mr. McLeod. “Some secondary and local roads could still be slushy as well, so slowing down in those areas is recommended.”

With snow starting around 9 a.m. in Kent and New Castle counties, the accumulation totals roughly lived up to expectations. As of 5 p.m., New Castle County was hit the hardest with totals between 2 inches and over 3 inches throughout, according to the Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS).

Kent County saw the most snow around Smyrna, which reported 2.3 inches of accumulation, but it saw less further south with Woodside reporting about an inch. By DEOS’s totals, Sussex County came out of the winter storm relatively unscathed, reporting only “trace” amounts of snow accumulation in the Laurel area. The highest accumulation recorded in the state was in Hockessin with 3.4 inches.

Despite conditions not being as hazardous as originally predicted, the storm still took a toll on the First State. Schools, businesses and government buildings throughout the state either closed for the day or shut their doors early on account of travel conditions. The Delaware State Police reported a number of weather related accidents as well.

Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe noted that there were several dozen accidents reported statewide related to weather conditions. Again for Sussex County there was only a single “disabled vehicle” incident reported.

With higher snowfall totals, Kent and New Castle counties fared worse.

Ten property damage accidents, five personal injury accidents, one disabled vehicle and one “traffic hazard” were reported in Kent County, said the state police.

Three personal injury accidents and 26 property damage accidents were reported in New Castle County.

In one incident near Townsend in the northbound lanes of Del. 1, a vehicle reportedly drove into a pond around 1 p.m. The incident temporarily closed off Del. 1, but it reopened shortly afterward.

State police didn’t release any information on a rescue effort of the condition of the vehicle’s occupant(s) as of 5 p.m. They noted that because the investigation was still ongoing, details would be released as they became available.

Warming up
While the hazardous weather outlook and winter storm warnings were dropped for Kent and Sussex counties, they remain in effect for New Castle County until 9 p.m. tonight. Scattered rain throughout the state remains likely tonight, but temperatures are expected to pick back up on Thursday, according to National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

Rain may continue up until around 8 a.m. Thursday morning, but clouds are expected to begin clearing mid-morning followed by an increase in temperatures to a high of 54 degrees.

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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