While we can't quite say we had a white Christmas this year, we certainly can say the majority of this week has been blustery, grey and messy, as a blast of winter weather came through central Delaware bringing a mix of snow, sleet and rain.
While rain showers poured on Dover Monday afternoon and shifted into snow during the evening, Christmas day brought sunny skies for the area. But it was a short respite, as Wednesday temperatures fell and the rain and sleet returned.
New Castle County received a brunt of the storm's effects on the First State, as temperatures hovered just above freezing Wednesday afternoon, according to DelDOT spokesman Jim Westhoff, but portions of Kent County experienced heavy rain and high winds, with the National Weather Service reporting peak wind gusts of up to 64 miles per hour at Dover Air Force Base Wednesday.
The storm prompted the state's transportation department to send crews out to treat the roads with salt as temperatures dropped and ice started accumulating on the roads in portions of the state.
In preparation for the winter, DelDOT has as many as 500 people on hand to take part in snow-removal operations and approximately 450 vehicles are available for snow operations, including dump trucks, graders and other tractors, Westhoff said. Delaware has 65,000 tons of salt stockpiled in 20 locations throughout the state.
AAA Mid-Atlantic also released a statement Wednesday reminding commuters to be cautious and ready for potentially hazardous driving conditions during times of winter weather.
"Nearly one-quarter of weather related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, resulting in more than 1,300 deaths and 116,800 people injured annually, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration," said Jim Lardear, director of public and government affairs, in press release.
While the end of the week looks to be fairly calm aside from low temperatures and strong winds, another snow shower could be in sight for the tri-state area this weekend.
Be prepared this winter
AAA offered the following tips for driving in winter weather:
• Make sure to check antifreeze, windshield wipers and washer fluid; tires; battery; belts and hoses.
• Drive distraction-free.
• Do not use cruise control and avoid tailgating. Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces.
• Know when to brake and when to steer. When traveling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering rather than braking to avoid a collision in wintery conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.
• Stay in control through a skid. When a vehicle begins to skid, it's important to not panic and follow these basic steps: Continue to look and steer in the direction the car needs to go. Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle's balance and make it harder to control.