WEATHER ALERT [UPDATED]: Schools closed and caution advised, with winter weather advisory in effect until noon

Due to snow, all Indian River School District schools are now closed on Friday, Jan. 8. Officials had previously announced a two-hour delay. All 12-month employees should report at their regular time. The Cape Henlopen School District is also closed on Friday, with staff reporting on a two-hour delay.

State officials are urging caution for those who travel on Friday, with a winter weather advisory remaining in effect until noon and snow expected to continue to fall across the region through midday.

Around 2 inches of snow accumulation is expected, according to the National Weather Service. Winds should be light during the snowfall and should not cause any problems with blowing or drifting, they said.

The snow will affect the Friday-morning commute, causing slippery roads and a longer than normal ride to work or school, they advised. Temperatures will barely rise above freezing on Friday, and there will be a return of windy and colder weather in the wake of the snowfall later Friday into Saturday.

The winter weather advisory means that periods of snow will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving, the NWS advised.

As forecasts called from between 1 and 3 inches of snow to fall overnight Thursday into Friday, multiple agencies in Delaware were working on plans to make the roads as safe as possible for the Friday-morning commute.

Crews applied salt brine to road surfaces statewide. Salt brine is a salt-and-water mixture which is effective in pre-treating roads in advance of a storm. The water helps keep the salt on the road as cars travel over the surface. The salt works to melt the ice before it has a chance to form on roadways.

Supervisors from Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) planned to recall full crews between 10 p.m. and midnight, and throughout the evening, skeleton crews were monitoring the roads.

The Delaware State Police (DSP) are asking motorists to allow themselves more time during the morning rush hour, and to turn their radios to their local station for information on roadway closures and detours.

"If you don't have to venture out during the storm – then don't," advised Sgt. Walter Newton, public information officer for DSP. "If road conditions worsen, state police will then deploy troopers on administrative duty to assist the patrol operations," Newton said.

Although snow accumulations are not predicted to be nearly as great as during the Dec. 19 storm, Delaware Emergency Management Agency officials reminded the public that unnecessary travel should be avoided, especially early Friday.

According to the National Weather Service, the amount of snow is likely to vary from area to area throughout the state. Some pockets may catch up to 3 inches and other areas may have less than an inch. Those who must travel should monitor road conditions along their route before starting out, leaving for their destination earlier than usual and leaving plenty of space between their vehicle and others while driving, officials advised.

State officials warned that unnecessary travel that results in disabled vehicles can tie up valuable time for emergency responders and encouraged people statewide to be part of the solution to a satisfactory response to weather events, not part of the problem.

“If we have learned anything this week it is that is does not matter how much snow accumulates on our roadways, traffic is still impacted,” officials noted on Thursday. “From 1 centimeter to 2 feet, snow simply makes navigating our streets difficult so we just might be able to measure snow fall in the number of crashes that occur instead of inches.”

On Wednesday, a very light dusting of the “white stuff” came down in the early morning hours, and, as a result, multiple crashes occurred, officials noted. Between 5 and 11 a.m., 39 crashes occurred in New Castle County, with another six vehicles becoming disabled. And that was just for those crashes occurring in the State Police jurisdiction.

Motorists were asked to not take the small amount of snow for granted and realize that care and caution must be taken when commuting.

Snow was expected to start tapering off mid-morning Friday, with temperatures overnight will range from the low to mid 20’s and winds out of the southwest at 10–15 mph. Friday is forecast to be mostly cloudy with a chance of snow in the morning, tapering off to flurries in the afternoon. Temperatures will be in the mid 30’s, but wind chills will result in temperatures in the mid to lower 20’s. Winds will be out of the west 10–15 mph.

Since winds are not expected to be very high, there is less chance of downed trees, which can lead to power outages, officials noted. However, to be on the safe side, emergency management officials are encouraging the public to check alternate lighting supplies, such as flashlight and lanterns.

With wind chill factors bringing temperatures as low as the teens later in the weekend, the public was also reminded to take care with pets and any outdoor animals, making sure that there is adequate shelter and fresh water available. Companion animals should be brought indoors whenever possible. Even the shelter of an unheated garage may not be much warmer than outside temperatures and may be well below freezing level.

Those who are set with adequate food, water, flashlights and a portable radio, were also encouraged to take a little time to make sure neighbors are prepared, as well.

For tips on emergency plans and supplies and updates on weather conditions, monitor state agency websites, including deldot.gov, http://dema.delaware.gov/ and http://www.twitter.com/DelawareEMA.