Delaware Gov. Jack Markell declared a State of Emergency and Level 1 Driving Warning today for the entire state. Markell had previously ordered state offices closed at noon, sending all non-essential personnel home.
The 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.”
Delaware Emergency Management Agency officials, along with other emergency response agencies across the state are monitoring the snowstorm that is making its way through Delaware. The National Weather Service posted a Winter Storm Warning that is in effect until 6 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22. NWS forecasters say that as much as eight to 14 inches of snow could fall in New Castle County, four to eight inches in Kent and much of Sussex County, with six to eight inches in southern Sussex County.
With snow widespread across the state and temperatures forecast to drop into the 20s and lower through Friday, Code Purple locations have been established in Sussex County to help people who are homeless find shelter. The duration of the shelters are subject to weather conditions and the resources of the coordinating agency or place of worship.
People with emergency housing needs are encouraged to call 211 to be directed to the most appropriate shelter or service.
Beginning today, Jan, 21, and for however long Code Purple is in effect: People in need of overnight sanctuary are encouraged to go to Epworth United Methodist Church, 19285 Holland Glade Road, Rehoboth Beach. Doors opened at 5:30 p.m. The facility does not have the capacity to house families; only single individuals can be hosted at this time. For more information, call Nan Ruhl, director of Immanuel Shelter, at 302-604-2619.
The weather conditions bring two problems to the state - snow accumulations and high winds. High winds will cause patchy areas of snow and ice, along with drifts on roadways. Drivers should use extreme caution throughout the storm period. The other problem is the extreme cold associated with this weather. Temperatures will drop overnight across the state, and by morning, wind chills could register around -7 degrees Fahrenheit. Those venturing outside should dress appropriately as hypothermia is a possible danger. Pets should be sheltered or brought indoors.
Roads were pre-treated by the Delaware Department of Transportation with brine, a water and salt mixture, as early as Monday in anticipation of the snowstorm. DelDOT crews are currently salting roadways. Road conditions statewide will worsen as the snow and wind continue. Motorists should reduce speeds appropriately based on road conditions. Delaware State Police are reporting wet and slippery roads across the state, with some roadways snow covered. State police are also reporting numerous traffic accidents across Delaware.