Teased with spring-like weather for two straight weekends, Cape Region residents were reminded on Monday that winter isn't quite over.
The never-ending winter got a little longer as a winter storm blanketed in the state in snow, closing state offices, school districts and many businesses.
Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at Accuweather.com, said a storm of this nature is unusual for this time of year.
“It was up near 60 degrees this weekend, and right now it's 20 degrees. It's two different worlds,” he said.
Following the storm, near record cold temperatures are expected, with temperatures dropping to between 5 and 10 degrees above zero.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for all of Delaware on Monday, predicting six to 10 inches of snow in New Castle and Kent counties, and four to eight inches for inland Sussex County with lesser amounts for coastal areas.
In Sussex County, rain started late Sunday night and continued until just before sunrise on Monday, when the precipitation turned to ice and then snow as temperatures dropped.
Joseph Thomas, Sussex County Emergency Operations Center director, said that by 11 a.m. there had been more than 30 accidents, mostly minor.
“The public needs to take this seriously and heed the advice to avoid travel,” he said in a prepared statement. “It’s still early, and a lot can happen, but let’s keep our fingers crossed that this is the worst of it and the storm’s bark is worse than its bite.”
In anticipation of the storm, Gov. Jack Markell issued a State of Emergency and Level 1 Driving Warning that began March 3 at midnight.
“Once the precipitation turns to snow, we strongly encourage drivers who do not need to travel to delay or refrain from being on the road,” said Markell in a statement released late Sunday night. “Snowfall amounts are predicted to increase rapidly as the storm progresses, which will create hazardous driving conditions. Hundreds of DelDOT crews will continue to work on clearing roads and we will continue to evaluate conditions.”
A “Level 1 Driving Warning” means any person operating a motor vehicle shall exercise extra caution. 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 unless there is a significant safety, health or business reason to do so.
Snow was expected to continue for most of the day Monday, with a few mid-day bands of heavier snow working their way eastward as drier air from the north blows through.
Steady winds came out of the north at 10 to 15 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph, and temperatures were in the upper teens.
Kines said he was expecting the snow to taper off by 6 p.m. on Monday.