Winter storm: Seven inches of snow possible in Delaware’s forecast

DOWNSTATE – Delawareans are bracing for the arrival of what is expected be the first winter weather event of the season, one that forecasters say might bring a half foot of snow or more to downstate Delaware and other parts of Delmarva.

Sussex County and portions of Kent County are in the accumulative cross-hairs of the winter storm – coined Winter Storm Gia by The Weather Channel.

Total accumulations of five to seven inches are possible.

A winter storm warning issued just after 3 p.m. Saturday by the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., is in effect from 7 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Monday for central Delaware and portions of northeastern Maryland.

The winter weather advisory issued Friday afternoon by the National Weather Service had called for possible accumulations of four to six inches of snow.

“Ready to go,” says Milton resident Dave Lomas in a social media posting. He’s all set for snow removal with his plow-equipped John Deere tractor.

“Much ado about nothing (I hope!),” Seaford resident Susan Nancarrow proclaimed in a posting.

From the west, snow is forecast to begin moving into the region late on Saturday and continue through at least Sunday afternoon. Snow may linger on Delmarva into Sunday night.

Coastal flooding is not expected with this storm.

As expected, the snowy forecast has precipitated a retail rush for supplies and necessities.

At Baker’s Hardware in Millsboro, business has been brisk.

“Ice melt, rock salt, snowblowers …,” said Baker’s Hardware general manager Jake Ricker. “And our business is a little diverse. We do a lot of work with the contractors to, so, ice melting equipment as well as pallets of rock salt.”

It has been a similar scenario at Hocker’s two businesses in Sussex County.

“At this point, we’re going to get some snow, but I think we are on the border line of the one to three versus the four to six,” said Gerry Hocker, vice president of Hocker’s Super Center in Clarksville and Hocker’s G & E Supermarket in Bethany Beach. “So, people don’t know what we’re getting. We just see that most people want to make sure they have enough for dinner this evening and probably dinner tomorrow.”

“Usually, a storm like this, we see an increase in sales of naturally snow shovels. We sell a lot of salt for sidewalks and driveways. A staple item always is … we make sure that we are prepared with obviously bread and milk, and bottled water and toilet paper. We had an extra milk delivery this morning to be prepared,” said Mr. Hocker.  “We find a storm like this we’re a little bit busier the hours before the storm. But then during the storm and after the storm we’re not busy at all. Both locations are relatively busy. We are busier than normal. I think we’ll be busy up to the evening hours. It kind of puts a little bit of a strain, but we usually bring in some extra help as needed. Then once it starts snowing people mostly tend to stay off the streets.”

In preparatory anticipation of the storm, Department of Transportation crews late this week began brining primary roadways in all three counties.

Brine causes the initial coating of snow and ice to melt and slows down or may even stop the accumulation of ice and snow on the road surface, according to DelDOT. It also serves as a bond breaker which helps for clearing the road.

DelDOT advises motorists to stay tuned to weather sources and to plan trips accordingly. The DelDOT Transportation Management Center (TMC) and WTMC-1380 AM also provide motorists real-time traffic conditions throughout Delaware.

Motorists can contact the TMC 24/7 to report any travel or traffic related issues by dialing the following numbers: #77 from any cell phone in Delaware; (302) 659-4600; or 1-800-324-8379.

Winter weather is expected to arrive in the region later today, with a forecast of upward of four to six inches of snow for portions of Delaware.

In addition, motorists should be alert for snow plows on the roads and maintain a safe distance – several car lengths – from snow plows as they work to plow and treat roads. Once snow plows are active, the DelDOT snow plow tracker will be available on the free DelDOT app and www.deldot.gov.

Delaware State Police offered a travel advisory for motorists to use extra caution with the likelihood of snow covered roads and decreased visibility.

State police statewide plan to be ready and available to patrol, assist disabled vehicles and manage roadway incidents and hazards for the duration of the event, said state police spokesman Master Cpl. Michael Austin.

Most calls for service received by troopers during winter storms are for vehicle crashes, disabled vehicles and abandoned vehicles which cause a major problem for DelDOT snow removal equipment and for troopers responding to emergency situations, Cpl. Austin said.

State police strongly encourage motorists to avoid unnecessary travel.

Driving tips

State police urge all motorists who must travel to use extreme caution as road and weather conditions may change rapidly over the course of the event:

  • Motorists should be prepared for snow-covered and slippery roads, along with strong winds and limited visibility which make driving conditions difficult;
  • Use caution while driving when approaching intersections and off ramps, especially bridges and overpasses;
  • Remember to reduce speed and increase following distance between vehicles;
  • Allow ample time to reach your destination, allow extra space between vehicles, and keep vehicle headlights on to increase visibility.

Be prepared

State police also remind motorists to check their vehicle in advance, ensuring it is in good working order for the expected conditions. Motorists are advised to fill up the fuel tank in advance; check windshield wipers, windshield wiper fluid, tire tread and battery life, etc.

When in trouble, stay put

State police urge motorists who encounter vehicle problems to stay with their vehicle, as freezing temperatures can be life-threatening. An emergency kit in the vehicle consisting of a blanket, bottled water, snack, cell phone charger and a flashlight is recommended.

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