Governor Jack Markell has issued a limited State of Emergency with a “Level 1 Driving Warning” to begin at 4 p.m. Sunday in Kent and Sussex counties for a storm that is now predicted to dump up to 18 inches of snow on the southern part of the state and up to 8 inches in the north. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the Delaware coastal area. Heavy snow and high wind is expected make driving dangerous and ill-advised during some periods.
DelDOT crews began working overnight to prepare and plow roads, and the Governor this morning deployed Delaware National Guard personnel to man heavy equipment in each county and at State Police troops to assist with any local emergency needs. DEMA’s Emergency Operations Center near Smyrna has been activated and acts as a link between the Governor’s Office and cabinet and emergency responders around the state.
“With DelDOT crews working around the clock, the National Guard activated and our state and local emergency responders at the ready, the state is fully prepared for the first big storm of this winter but we ask everyone to use good judgment and stay off the roads,” Governor Markell said.
According to Governor Markell, “With heavy snow and wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour, travel on some of the state’s roads will be very dangerous, will hamper the plowing operations and may result in the need to rescue drivers from snow drifts. As such, we strongly urge people to stay off the roads.”
Under a new law passed in the wake of last winter’s snowstorms and designed to provide more clarity to drivers, Delaware now has a three-level driving warning and restriction system. The following levels are found in Title 20 of the Delaware Code, Subsection 3116(b)(12) and may be put in effect by the Governor during a State of Emergency for all or parts of Delaware based on conditions.
· Level 1 Driving Warning: Drivers are discouraged from operating a motor vehicle on the state’s roadways, unless there is a significant safety, health or business reason to do so.
· Level 2 Driving Restriction: Travel on the roads is restricted to emergency workers, public utilities, healthcare providers including hospital staff, public and private operators of snow removal equipment, private sector food and fuel deliveries, and those industries, companies or organization that have been provided a waiver, including businesses with pressing continuity and operational issues.
· Level 3 Driving Ban: Complete ban on driving except for first responders, utility personnel, and public or private snow removal. Businesses and organizations should adjust work schedules so that employees do not need to be on the roads during a Level 3 Driving Ban.
The Level 1 Driving Warning issued by the Governor starts at 4 p.m. Sunday in Kent and Sussex and is expected to last at least until Sunday evening. Conditions will continue to be assessed to determine if the Level 1 Driving Warning should be extended to New Castle County, but drivers are encouraged to be cautious and refrain from the roads unnecessarily as conditions worsen. Public notification will be made when the warning is lifted.
Released from the Office of Governor Markell