UPDATE: Delaware Governor Jack Markell issues state of emergency

DELAWARE – With roadway conditions deteriorating significantly overnight, Governor Markell has issued a “Level 2 Driving Restriction” in New Castle and Kent Counties effective at 8:00 a.m. A State of Emergency remains in effect statewide, along with a “Level 1 Driving Warning” in Sussex County.state of emergency

As expected, the winter storm that began Friday has generated significant snowfall in New Castle and Kent Counties, as well as snow, coastal flooding, and strong sustained winds in Sussex County.

As of 7:00 a.m., about 8-10 inches have been reported in parts of New Castle and Kent Counties, and 2-4 inches in most of Sussex, increasing to about 7 inches in Laurel.

On roadways throughout the state, there is as much as 6-9 inches of snow.

Markell had previewed the possibility of these driving restrictions when he announced the State of Emergency Friday at 5:00 p.m.

According to state law, under a “Level 2 Driving Restriction,” no person may operate a motor vehicle on Delaware roadways, except for persons designated as “essential personnel” or who have received a waiver from the Delaware Emergency Management Agency.

The following persons are specifically designated as “essential personnel” under Delaware law:

  • Operators of snow removal equipment (public and private);
  • Persons providing public utility services;
  • Persons providing healthcare services; and
  • Persons providing food and fuel deliveries.

“This storm appears to be as serious as predicted and, with so much snow accumulating on our roads, conditions are becoming dangerous for any more traffic than absolutely necessary,” said Markell.

“The Level 2 Driving Restriction in New Castle and Kent Counties is required to keep people safe and off the roads, while allowing our DelDOT and emergency responder personnel to operate most effectively.

At the Governor’s direction, Delaware National Guard and DelDOT began pre-positioning their resources Friday afternoon in anticipation of this weekend’s storm.

The State of Emergency declaration allowed the Governor to deploy the Delaware National Guard, DelDOT, first responders, and other agencies to open and close roadways, and take other actions to protect public safety and property during the storm event.

According to state law, a “Level 1 Driving Warning” means that any person operating a motor vehicle on Delaware roadways must exercise extra caution. All nonessential employees, public and private, are encouraged not to operate a motor vehicle unless there is a significant safety, health or business reason to do so.

The Governor continues to monitor the forecast regularly and will remain in frequent contact with emergency management and transportation officials over the course of the storm to determine any further changes in driving restrictions or other actions that are necessary.

A Blizzard Warning from the National Weather Service is now in effect for New Castle and Kent Counties until 6:00am Sunday.

Total accumulations of 18-24 inches of snow are expected in New Castle County, while Kent County is also forecast to receive 18-24 inches of snow, with 12-18 inches near the shore. A Winter Weather Warning is now in effect until 6am Sunday for Sussex County with an expected accumulation of 12-18 inches inland, and 8-12 inches along the coast.

Snow will continue heavy at times throughout the day on Saturday in New Castle County before tapering off tonight and early Sunday morning.

DelDOT has been working hard to prepare the roads for snow and to prepare its crews for a weekend of plowing. More than 330 Equipment Operators have been working through the night.

Crews started applying brine solution to Delaware roadways mid-week. All equipment used in snow removal operations has been checked and rechecked from the snow plows to the windshield wipers. Residents can track the progress of DelDOT plows by watching the snowplow tracker, which is available at deldot.gov, or on the DelDOT app on a smart phone.

Yesterday, the Governor authorized the National Guard, in coordination with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, to pre-position its forces to assist local first responders with stranded motorists, flooding, and other emergencies that may require their attention. They will remain in position to assist Delawareans throughout the weekend.

Code Purple locations are available in all three counties for individuals who are homeless and in need of shelter during the storm. More information, including a list of sites statewide, is available here. To be connected to Code Purple resources, call Delaware 2-1-1, search for “Code Purple” on the Delaware 2-1-1 mobile app or on its website at www.delaware211.org and click on the Code Purple button.

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