Wintry wonderland: Downstate hit with first snowstorm of 2019

Bill Ivins uses a snow blower on the sidewalk on Bradford Street in Dover on Sunday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Sunday turned out to be a day for digging out or playing in some of the snow provided by the weekend’s snowstorm — the first of 2019 — or just relaxing and enjoying the warmth of indoors and spending time with loved ones.

Work crews from the Delaware Department of Transportation and the City of Dover had obviously been hard at work to clear the heavy, white snow from the roadways in and around the state capital.

The Delaware Environmental Observing System said Dover had 3.6 inches of snow that had accumulated on the ground as of 5 p.m. on Sunday, while Harrington had 4.0 inches, Lewes 3.2 inches and Laurel 3.5 inches of snow.

Kent and Sussex counties received the brunt of the snowstorm this time around.

The National Weather Service said a Winter Storm Warning was to remain in effect until 4 this morning as it expected central and southern Delaware to receive heavy snow with additional snow accumulations of one to three inches Sunday night into early this morning for a total of 4 to 6 inches since Saturday night.

A man uses a dust pan to remove snow from his car on Bradford Street in Dover on Sunday.

This weekend’s winter storm has several downstate school districts prepared to open two hours late on Monday morning.

Schools in the Capital, Caesar Rodney, Cape Henlopen, Indian River, Lake Forest, Laurel, Milford, Polytech, Seaford, Smyrna, Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences, Sussex Tech and Woodbridge school districts have announced they will open two hours late.

This weekend’s storm marked the first time that significant snow had visited Kent and Sussex counties since March 2018, when a trio of Nor’easters hit Delaware in rapid succession.

Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen thanked city workers for the diligent work on social media Sunday morning.

“Good Morning Dover,” Mayor Christiansen wrote. “The snow is continuing to fall and is predicted to continue throughout the day in Dover. Please use caution and drive carefully in the event you need to be out on the roads. Our City of Dover snow plow crews are out and about plowing the streets. Please be patient as your roads will be plowed in a timely matter.

“Thank you to our City of Dover crews and departments (police, fire, grounds, electric and public works) for all their hard work! Please everyone be safe!”

Lauren Woodpond, of Dover, admitted she has a love-hate relationship when it comes to snow.

“They did a good job salting and brining the roads,” Ms. Woodpond said, of workers for the Delaware Department of Transportation. “I don’t like snow. I come from California, and actually, I was super excited to move somewhere with the snow and then it started snowing and I hated it.

A boy flies off a snow mound while sledding at Barkers Landing near Magnolia on Sunday.

“It’s inconvenient, it’s dangerous and some people drive too slow in the snow and some people drive insane, so you get a mix of just danger. But as long as the roads are good, I don’t mind snow.”

The first snow of 2019 in Dover and the surrounding areas began falling just after 8 p.m. on Saturday night as the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys were just about to kick off their NFL playoff game.

By Sunday morning, long after the Rams had defeated the Cowboys to advance to next week’s NFC Championship Game, three inches or so of the white stuff was covering yards, the roofs of houses and cars throughout the Dover area.

Today’s outlook is a little better after the storm clears out early this morning. The NWS is forecasting mostly sunny skies with a high near 35 degrees and a north wind at 5 to 10 mph.

Adrian Mouzone, of Dover, was skeptical when the snow first began to fall on Saturday night.

“I don’t think the snow is going to be as much as they predicted, but I think the snow is going to affect a lot of small companies that can’t get the resources out there for their revenue,” he said.

“What I like about the snow is that it’s winter, and it’s time to bring on some snow. I’m from New Jersey and I like to see it because the winter season is all about snow.”

Zoe Zebley slides down a snowy hill at Barkers Landing near Magnolia on Sunday.

Wesley College tweeted that due to the storm and delayed check-in that spring classes will begin on Tuesday. It appeared as if most hospitals in Kent and Sussex counties were operating as normal.

The Kent County Recreation Center and the Dover Public Library were both closed on Sunday. Both are planning to return to their normal schedules today.

Code Purple Kent County shelters were open this weekend until this morning where the area’s homeless population got a chance to get out of the cold and enjoy a hot meal.

Delaware Electric Cooperative reported 319 of its members in the Camden area were without power at 1:30 p.m. Sunday but the problem was soon fixed.

DelDOT’s crews began brining the primary roadways in all three counties on Friday. 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. Brine also serves as a bond breaker, which helps for clearing the road.

Trees and a picnic table are covered in snow at Silver Lake Park in Dover.

Motorists are advised to stay tuned to weather sources and to plan their trips accordingly. The DelDOT Transportation Management Center (TMC) and WTMC-1380 AM also provides 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.

In addition, motorists should be alert for snow plows on the roads and maintain a distance of 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.

DART and Paratransit customers are urged to stay tuned to weather reports and be prepared for service interruptions should weather conditions worsen. In the event of any service interruption, DART will issue Rider Alerts to riders who subscribe to the service. For further information, visit https://www.dartfirststate.com/.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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