Governor Markell has declared all state offices closed today, Wednesday, January 22, 2014, during regular business hours of 8am to 4:30pm. Non-essential state employees are not to report for work during this period, while essential employees should report as scheduled. The State of Emergency and Level 1 Driving Warning remain in effect for the entire State of Delaware.
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.”
The National Weather Service says snowfall ended in New Castle and Kent counties around 4:30 a.m., with light amounts still falling in Sussex County where further accumulations should be limited. Winds will be 15-20 MPH today with gusts up to 30 MPH. Bitterly cold air will last through the remainder of the week and temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing until Saturday.
Actual snow accumulations vary from just over 10 inches near Hockessin to one inch in Laurel with just over 5.5 inches in the Dover area. Temperatures overnight fell from the teens into the single digits, with wind chills as low as 12 degrees below zero. The Delaware Department of Transportation reports that salt is ineffective on roads when temperatures are single digit, and crews have been challenged by winds that have covered over primary roads that were already cleared. Secondary and local roads have not been treated by DelDOT as crews continue to work on the primary roads. Travel will remain hazardous due to snow covered roadways, low visibility and drifting, and will continue into the day Wednesday. The commute on Wednesday morning will be impacted by blowing and drifting snow, especially in open areas. Below zero wind chills will continue on Wednesday and the National Weather Service says there could still be issues with blowing snow.
The speed limit on Interstate 495 has been reduced to 45 MPH. Other major roads in New Castle County are reported to be snow covered and slick. High winds are causing drifting snow. In Kent County, major roads are covered with snow, ice and slush. Major roads in Sussex County are generally reported to be wet with light snow, and a minimal accumulation. All bridges are open, but the speed limit on the Delaware Memorial Bridge remains at 30 MPH.
There are still no reports of widespread power outages in the state with only 17 statewide at the time of this report. Residents should continue to be prepared in the event that high winds and snow accumulations bring down power lines.
All school districts in Delaware are closed today, Wednesday, January 22nd. Some colleges and universities have posted their status on school websites, with Wilmington University and Goldey-Beacom College closed. Delaware Technical and Community College Stanton and Wilmington campuses are closed. The University of Delaware will be opening at noon. No information is available at this time on other colleges or universities.