The most significant winter storm of the season could hurl a foot of snow across Sussex County and blast coastal areas with wind-whipped freezing spray, potentially knocking out power and halting travel for millions in the hours to come as a blizzard closes in on the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for all of Sussex County, from 7 p.m. Friday until 7 p.m. Saturday. Forecasters are predicting a range of 8 to 13 inches of snow to fall across the county beginning Friday evening and lasting until at least midday Saturday. The snow is expected to be at its heaviest in the overnight hours, with 30- to 50-mph winds expected to cause blowing and drifting snow that will make roads impassable, reduce visibilities, and result in disorienting whiteout conditions. Bitter cold air and temperatures plunging into the teens after the storm are expected Saturday night into Sunday.
Delaware Gov. John Carney has issued a State of Emergency Level 2 Driving Restriction beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, limiting travel to essential personnel only.
Minor tidal flooding also is possible with this potentially dangerous coastal storm. Property owners should prepare now by removing or securing loose objects, and residents should stock up on provisions in the event travel is not possible and power is out in the coming days.
“This is undoubtedly the most significant winter nor’easter we have faced in a number of years, and it has the potential to rank up there with the back-to-back blizzards of 2010,” said Emergency Operations Center Director Joseph L. Thomas. “The public should be mindful of the forecast, prepare accordingly, and avoid travel tonight. The last place you will want to be is stranded somewhere on a darkened road in a raging blizzard.”
Emergency planners urge the public to prepare now for the strong possibility of impossible travel, widespread power outages, downed trees, and some minor coastal flooding as a result of the storm. The system is forecast to spread blizzard conditions from here to New England.
Those traveling for essential or emergency purposes should be prepared with basic supplies on hand including an ice scraper, blankets, sand or cat litter, de-icer, flashlight and batteries, mobile telephone, high-calorie non-perishable food and water, and a full tank of gas.
Residents and property owners should prepare themselves with basic household supplies, including extra food and water, first-aid supplies, flashlights and batteries, a battery-powered weather radio, extra prescription medicines, baby items, an emergency heat source and sufficient heating fuel.
The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center continues to monitor this situation and is working closely with other local and state governmental agencies. Additional staff are being called in to the SCEOC and paramedic stations to be on standby and respond to issues that may arise during and after this event.
For a list of road closures, go to deldot.gov. To view a map of power outages in Sussex County, Delmarva Power customers can go to delmarva.com and Delaware Electric Cooperative clients can visit delaware.coop.
The public also should stay tuned to local media, the Sussex County website at sussexcountyde.gov, and the National Weather Service at weather.gov/phi for the latest forecasts. Updates will be issued as needed.
The Sussex County EOC reminds the public to only call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Anyone with questions regarding this information should contact the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center at 302-855-7801.