(Smyrna) – Governor Jack Markell has ordered state offices closed in New Castle and Kent Counties today during regular business hours of 8am to 4:30pm. Non-essential state employees who live or work in New Castle County or Kent County are not to report for work during this period. Essential employees are to report as scheduled. State of Delaware offices in Sussex County will open at 10:00am. Non-essential state employees who live or work in Sussex County should not report to work until 10:00am, while essential employees report as scheduled.
Governor Markell has also placed a Level 1 Driving Warning into effect in New Castle and Kent Counties. Delaware Code defines a Level 1 Driving Warning in this manner: “Level 1 Driving Warning: A “Level 1 Driving Warning” shall mean that any person operating a motor vehicle when a Level 1 Driving Warning has been activated shall exercise extra caution in the operation of their motor vehicle. Nonessential employees, regardless of whether employed by a public or private entity, are encouraged not to operate a motor vehicle on the State’s roadways when a Level 1 Driving Warning has been activated, unless there is a significant safety, health or business reason to do so.”
The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated at 10:00pm, Wednesday night. DEMA officials were joined by representatives from other response agencies to monitor conditions overnight.
A Winter Storm Warning continues in New Castle County until 6:00am Friday, February 14th. Kent County and the inland portion of Sussex County are also under a Winter Storm Warning, set to expire at 1:00pm today, February 13th. The coastal areas of Sussex County are under a Winter Weather Advisory until 7:00am Thursday. A Coastal Flood Advisory is in effect statewide until midnight tonight. Areas of minor coastal flooding are expected with the Thursday morning and evening high tides. Areas of poor drainage will be affected and some roadway flooding may be experienced.
Snowfall totals vary across the state with most areas of New Castle County waking up to 2.5 to nearly 4 inches of snow on the ground with more to come. National Weather Service forecasters now say that snow could accumulate 6 to 10 inches in New Castle County along with a trace of ice. The snow will mix with sleet upstate later this morning, then change to sleet and rain for a period in the afternoon before changing back to snow tonight and taper off by midnight.
Parts of Kent County have heavier accumulations this morning with reports of nearly 6 inches of snow already on the ground in Dover. Total accumulations in Kent and inland Sussex Counties will be in the 4 to 6 inch range. Snow will continue into the morning in many areas. In the southern part of Delaware, rain and sleet early will change to all rain by dawn, while Kent County will see the rain/sleet mix later in the morning before changing to a wintry mix this evening. Coastal areas will see mostly rain.
The morning rush hour will be impacted by the morning road and weather conditions. Motorists should allow extra time for their morning commute, reduce speeds, and use extreme caution while driving. DelDOT crews are working on primary and secondary roads, bridges, toll roads, and known trouble spots.
Public school districts in New Castle and Kent Counties have already announced closings for Thursday. Delaware Technical & Community College Stanton/Wilmington Campus and Terry Campus are closed for day classes. Evening classes are also closed at the Stanton/Wilmington Campus. Goldey-Beacom College has also announced that it will be closed on Thursday. Information on school closings can also be found on the State of Delaware School Closings website (http://schoolclosings.delaware.gov/).
The snow will be wet and heavy. Winds may gust 20-35 MPH, with higher gusts up to 50 MPH along the coast. The heavy snow accumulating on tree branches and power lines, combined with strong, gusty winds may combine to produce broken branches and downed power lines.