Delaware deals with up to 14 inches of snow, readies for Friday [video]

Delaware Governor Jack Markell has lifted the driving restrictions for New Castle and Kent Counties . He says the possibility of new snow overnight could mean restrictions might be reinstated later.

Markell credits the lack of drivers on the roads during the day and the rain and warm temperatures for speeding up the work of DelDOT road crews. He says the main roads have been cleared. He adds the lack of traffic allowed crews to work on secondary roads much quicker than originally thought.

Snow totals and aftermath

The snow totals were in the 6-18 inch range. Newark registered 14.1 inches of snow. Wilmington had 10 inches. It was evident by late afternoon that Wilmington was still digging its way out the storm. Front end loaders were taking huge mounds of snow from the corner of 4th and Washington. They were loading them into dump trucks to take them to the industrial park in the city’s Southbridge neighborhood.

The snow began just after 9 p.m. Wednesday. By sunrise, the snow was still powdery. Drifts could be seen blowing up against cars. Then the rains came. A steady rain fell until noon, and when it was done the snow was heavy and harder to move. The only good news was the temperatures had risen to the mid-30s making it much easier for shovelers to deal with wind gusts as they tried to push the heavy snow out of driveways and parking lots.

Flooding and the beaches

The storm caused another problem, flooding. Several roadways in New Castle County had several inches of standing water. The southbound lane of Route 13 just past the Route 40 split looked like a summer thunderstorm had hit it. What traffic there was backed up as motorists went through at speeds of about five miles per hour. Turn lanes in many cases had standing water because of the piled up slush.

Sussex County was spared the snow, but as the nor’easter came up the Delaware coastline it wasn’t spared the winds. Rehoboth, Lewes, and areas around the Indian River Inlet bridge were hit with high winds and heavy rain, which flooded streets and the tidal marshes. Fences and trees were blown down throughout the area. There were also problems with traffic signals being disrupted and blowing sand along Coastal Highway, which resulted in minor damage.

Impact on people and the budget

Markell spent his day checking in with state workers throughout the affected areas and with members of the Delaware National Guard. The guard put 200 members on alert to help with any cleanup issues if necessary.

He also credits the 500 DelDOT work crews who began their storm work day just when they would normally be going to bed. Some of crews did get to rotate so they could be fresh, but it is expected they will continue to work throughout Thursday night.

The other impact from this storm is on the DelDOT cleanup budget. “$3.7 million dollars is budgeted for snow removal in a typical year,” Markell said. That number is now at $9.7 million and rising. “The alternative of not removing snow is just not acceptable.” He added that at some point DelDOT will have to look at what capitol projects won’t take place in order to make up the short fall.

DelDot Secretary Shailen Bhatt said that Delaware isn’t in a position to offer its road salt to neighboring states. Delaware has a good supply and some states have inquired whether it is possible to take some from the first state.  “We do want to be a good neighbor, but we have to make sure we take care things here,” he said.  He added that some state salt supplies have been given to several cities and towns in Delaware.

Wilmington recovery

The impact will also be felt on businesses. Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams declared the city will remain closed on Friday. He is also keeping a driving ban in the city in effect.

A quick drive around various neighborhoods in the city show many smaller streets are covered in a heavy slush. Businesses along the city’s riverfront district were dark today. Cars left parked on the street were covered in a heavy snow as plows pushed snow up against the car doors.

One of those darkened buildings was the regional headquarters for AAA. Their roadside assistance program claims to have towed 531 vehicles during the storm.

The impact is also felt in Kent County.  Dover Air Force Based announced it will delay the start time for some workers by 3 hours.

While the forecast does project temperatures in the 40’s over the next few days there was one discouraging note in our reporting of this story. The Wilmington Library Chocolate festival, always done on Valentine’s Day weekend as a fund raiser, has been postponed. The new date is in March. After issuing a press release stating the postponement, a second release was issued. It read: “What better way to kick start St. Patrick’s Day.

Professionals and amateurs can participate in the Wilmington Library Chocolate Festival and put their chocolate creation to the test during the Wilmington Chocolate Festival 2014 at the newly renovated Wilmington Library on March 14. Organizers didn’t say whether it would be help rain or shine, but hopefully they won’t have to worry about snow postponing the event again.

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