In what might be 2022’s first understatement, the National Weather Service announced Sunday morning there had been “a large change” in the forecast overnight.
According to the National Weather Service, a winter storm on Monday is expected to drop 1 to 2 inches of snow in upper New Castle County, 3 to 4 inches from Bear to Smyrna, 4 to 6 inches in most of Sussex County, with one lucky Southwestern blob in Sussex slated for as much as 8 inches.
Accuweather says Southern Delaware’s accumulation will be 3 to 6 inches, but Weather.com says the accumulations will be slightly higher, with the Milford area getting as much as 8 to 12 inches.
The Weather Service stressed that uncertainty in its forecast is very high.
“This is the most uncertain 24 to 36 hour snowfall forecast in recent memory,” the service said. “Additional forecast changes, perhaps significant, are likely.”
The forecast also called for gale-force winds along the coast and additional rounds of coastal flooding in Sussex County.
Before everybody went to bed Saturday night, the forecast had been for cloudy skies and warmish temperatures. Now its for a high of 39 degrees Monday with lows near 20 that night.
The snow is expected to arrive after in the wee hours of the morning and to be coming down in Sussex County at the more intense rate of 1 to 2 inches an hour during rush hour traffic, said Milford City Manager Mark Whitfield.
“So obviously, people are going to need to be patient and cautious if it does come at that particular time because we can we only have about seven plows, and we can only be one road at a time,” he said. “We’ll do the best way we can keep things open but if we start getting snow at two inches an hour, it’s going to be very difficult.”
The weather switch comes as parents were already concerned about whether their children would be going back to school in person or virtually Monday, and businesses and governments are dealing with lots of absenteeism because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, with new daily cases routinely in the thousands during the last 10 days.
Whitfield said Milford was ready.
“Our biggest headache right now is the shortage of staff,” he said. “We have a lot of vacant positions and we worried because we have COVID kind of running through our workforce. But at any rate, we were ready forward.”
Crews will be ready and probably start prepping Sunday afternoon, he said.
“Other than that, we’ll take it as it comes,” he said. “We will probably get a layer of salt down pretty early in the storm to keep a hard pack from forming on the roadways.”
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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