What was once Hurricane Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall late Monday night in North Carolina. But the storm still spawned tornadoes and dumped heavy rain as it moved up the East Coast through the mid-Atlantic region Tuesday.
Flooding proved to be the biggest risk for much of Delmarva, a result of heavy rain and higher-than-normal tides. Heavy wind also caused significant damage, knocking over trees and power lines.
Local impacts from the storm are expected to subside by Wednesday morning as the storm moves much farther north and offshore. Isaias will likely start to weaken by Tuesday night, and is expected become a post-tropical system by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Tropical Storm Isaias: What impacts are hitting Delaware Tuesday morning
Delaware and hurricanes: What Tropical Storm Isaias reminds us about coastal risk
State of emergency
Delaware Gov. John Carney declared and signed a state of emergency order Tuesday.
The state of emergency allows the Delaware Emergency Management Agency to direct and coordinate the resources to assist with response in the areas affected by the storm.
It also directs the Delaware Department of Transportation and the Delaware State Police, in consultation with DEMA and the Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, to close bridges and roads as necessary to protect the health and safety of Delawareans and travelers.
“Several communities in Delaware experienced significant damage from Tropical Storm Isaias,” Carney said in a statement. “We are declaring a State of Emergency to provide coordinated assistance for response and recovery efforts from this storm damage. Severe weather can happen quickly. I urge all Delawareans to stay safe, and prepare for any future weather events by visiting preparede.org.”
The emergency order was effective as of 3 p.m. Tuesday and lasts “until further notice.”
Hundreds evacuated from Newark motel
About 200 people were evacuated from a Newark motel after water from the Christina River flooded the parking lot and first floor rooms, the city’s police department said.
Newark Police officers responded to the Rodeway Inn at 1120 South College Avenue in Newark, where at around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday water was about to “overtake” the first floor rooms, police said.
Officers worked with Aetna Hose Hook and Ladder Company of Newark to get people to safety.
About 25 of people were transported to a shelter set up by the American Red Cross at Glasgow High School in coordination with the New Castle County Office of Emergency Management. No injuries were reported and no watercraft were necessary for the evacuation, police said.
The motel has been temporarily closed.
Woman’s death believed to be storm-related
A woman in Milford was killed Tuesday morning when she was struck by a falling tree branch, Delaware State Police said Tuesday afternoon.
The woman was outside assessing damage from the storm on North Shore Drive when the branch fell from a damaged tree, police said.
Police responded to the scene around 11:45 a.m. Tuesday “in reference to a deceased adult female.”
Police said the victim, who they did not name, will be turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.
Beaches largely spared
While Isaias whipped inland areas with damaging winds, tornadoes and flash flooding, the storm largely spared the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay that drive Delaware’s tourism economy.
The storm’s more inland track, combined with its rapid forward speed, meant the coast really wasn’t hit hard enough or long enough to cause any worrisome erosion issues, said Michael Powell, head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s shoreline and waterway management section.
“But, it’s the first week of August,” he said. “We still have two full months of heightened tropical storm activity to make it through. But we made it through this one.”
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All the beaches Powell visited on Tuesday from Pickering Beach down south along the ocean coast appeared to sustain little damage from rough surf, and he observed no significant damage to the dunes. A few beaches along the Delaware Bay in Kent County were inaccessible due to downed trees blocking roadways, he said.
“The impacts from Tropical Storm Isaias will be unnoticeable by next weekend,” he said.
Multiple evacuations in North East, Maryland
The town of North East, Maryland in Cecil County, just west of Elkton, had widespread water damage and emergency crews were evacuating some residents from their homes.
Flooding in the town – located on the north end of the North East River – had many closed roads, vehicles under water and more than 1,000 people without power.
Newark asks residents to minimize water use
Newark on Tuesday afternoon asked residents to minimize water use because the city’s sanitary sewer system capacity has been reduced.
The system lost capacity due to the “large volume of water” associated with the storm.
“Minimize the use of water until flooding has receded to avoid potential sanitary sewer backups,” a notification from the reads.
National Weather Service reports tornado sightings in Delaware
The National Weather Service has reported four tornado sightings in Delaware, including three in Kent County and one in New Castle County.
The tornadoes were spotted on Sandtown Road near Felton, along Route 13 in Smyrna, in the area of Route 8 and Bennington Street in Dover and on Dumbush Road in Townsend.
A wind sensor in Smyrna recorded a gust of 96 mph at 9:09 a.m., according to the weather service.
“It sounded like a freight train,” said Smyrna resident John Marvel. “I got everyone into the basement.”
While a tree fell near his home in the Green Meadows neighborhood just east of Route 13 on East Commerce Street, his family is OK, and damage was limited to a bent gutter and a few lost shingles.
“I’ve lived here about 15 years and I’ve never seen anything as bad as this,” Marvel said.
Lane closures on I-95, some roads reopen
Three right lanes of I-95 south are closed just after the Route 202 south on-ramp as a result of storm damage to the road, according to the state’s department of transportation. Delays should be expected, and southbound traffic should use I-495 south to avoid delays, the agency said.
Several roads that experienced closures or delays Tuesday morning have fully or partially reopened, including Route 1 and I-495. Speed limits may be reduced in some areas.
Dover police updates residents on power outages
Many neighborhoods in Dover are still without power, including businesses and traffic lights, said Sgt. Mark Hoffman, public information officer for the Dover Police Department.
As the city’s electric department is working to restore multiple outages, Hoffman asked residents to be patient since more minor issues will likely be delayed.
“All our resources throughout the city are spread thin right now,” he said.
There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities due to the storm, he said. Most of the damage has affected utilities, power lines and trees with some damage to homes and businesses.
Dover’s Mayor Robin Christiansen declared a state of emergency around 11 a.m., encouraging people to stay off the roads. Hoffman advised anyone who drives in the area to be cautious of the dark traffic lights and first responders responding to damage on the roads.
Outages started around 9 a.m., and the Dover Police Department is still running on a generator.
National Weather Service updates forecast
Heavy rain leading to flash flooding is expected to continue across much of the mid-Atlantic region this afternoon before tapering off in the early evening, according to the National Weather Service.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s 2 p.m. advisory, Tropical Storm Isaias is racing northeastward across eastern Pennsylvania into southeastern New York at about 40 mph.
“On the forecast track, the center of Isaias will continue to move near or along the coast of the mid-Atlantic states today, and move across the northeastern United States into southern Canada tonight,” the advisory reads.
Significant swells and rip current risk will continue along the coast through at least Wednesday with tropical storm force winds continuing into the afternoon before gradually ending, according to the National Weather Service.
Southeast Pennsylvania and northwest New Jersey will experience strong wind into the evening. The Delaware Bay, northeastern Chesapeake Bay, Delaware River and the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware are at risk of minor to moderate storm surge inundation.
Isolated tornadoes are possible along the I-95 corridor into Delaware and New Jersey the rest of the day, the National Weather Service said.
Emergency personnel rescue multiple people from flood waters at Hockessin shopping center
Three people were transported to Christiana Hospital after a water rescue saved them from high water at the Lantana Square shopping center in Hockessin Tuesday afternoon.
Emergency personnel were seen in inflatable rescue boats, paddling through Lantana Square’s flooded parking lot. Crews were also operating in a stream adjacent to the center.
New Castle County Paramedics said they assisted Hockessin Fire Co. after an occupied vehicle became lodged in a drainage basin, trapping the driver inside. Bystanders who came to the occupant’s aide also became trapped in the swift water.
Traffic released on Chesapeake Bay Bridge
All traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge has been released, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. Traffic approaching the bridge had been held in both directions starting around 9:45 a.m. Before then, access to the bridge was restricted to certain vehicle types.
Hogan: ‘Heed all warnings, avoid travel if possible, and use common sense’
There are numerous road and bridge closures impacting multiple jurisdictions in Maryland. More than 60,000 power outages have been reported statewide, according a press release from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.
“At my direction, the state has activated all available resources to respond, and our team will continue to monitor the storm’s path,” Hogan said. “We urge Marylanders to heed all warnings, avoid travel if possible, and use common sense.”
As of 11:25 a.m., Maryland’s transportation department was responding to 55 incidents, with the largest number, 14, in St. Mary’s County.
The storm is expected to continue to impact Maryland through Tuesday evening. Additional flooding, 3-6 inches of heavy rain, tidal surge and wind damage from tropical storm force winds are anticipated.
The press release provided a damage report as of noon broken down by county. In Wicomico County, tornadic activity was reported in the area of Mardela Springs. In Worcester County, a tornado was confirmed near Girdletree.
Several northern Delaware roads closed, power outage causes traffic signals to go dark
The Delaware Department of Transportation has closed several roads in Delaware as heavy rain produces flash flooding, and down trees and power lines block traffic.
- The Interstate 495 ramps at 12th Street are closed due to flooding.
- The right north lane of I-495 just before Holly Oak is closed due to high water.
- Governor Printz Boulevard is closed near East Lea Boulevard because cars are stuck in water in the road.
- Route 72 under I-95 in Newark is closed due to flooding.
- Paper Mill Road at White Clay Creek is closed due to flooding.
- Casho Mill Road at the CSX railroad underpass is closed due to flooding.
- Local roads in Newark are closed due to flooding, including Barksdale and Nottingham Roads and Timberline and Rahway Drives.
- Marl Pit Road in Middletown is closed due to multiple down trees.
- Cedar Lane Road in Middletown is closed due to multiple down trees.
- Route 896 by Summit Airport is closed due to power line poles down across the north lanes.
- All south lanes of Route 1 are closed near Harris Road between Townsend and Odessa.
- All south lanes of Route 1 are closed at Route 299 in Middletown.
Across New Castle County, power outages have caused “numerous” traffic signals to go dark, DelDOT said. In Sussex County, 167 traffic signals were without power as of about 11:30 a.m., according to DelDOT.
At least two cars were almost completely submerged and several others were also stuck in water on Governor Printz Boulevard in Edgemoor.
One man, who had driven to the Food Lion on Governor Printz to go grocery shopping Tuesday morning, said he’s seen water pool on the road before, but nothing like this.
“I’ve seen spots where areas get flooded, but I haven’t seen cars get stuck in it,” he said. “People were stopping and some were like ‘oh shit’ and turned back around, but some tried to make it though and couldn’t.”
Pointing to one car that was almost completely submerged, the man said he saw the driver try to drive through the water before giving up.
“I guess when they tried to get through, the car just shut off,” he said. “The water is just getting higher and higher.”
Tropical Storm Isaias damages homes, cars throughout Delaware
Tropical Storm Isaias has destroyed roofs, mangled siding, crushed cars and knocked out power for close to 100,000 households in Delaware and Maryland.
Delaware residents started assessing damage from Isaias in the late morning as the storm’s strong winds and heavy rain continued moving north. A number of homes throughout the state were dealt permanent damage by strong wind gusts or fallen trees.
In Bear’s Brennan Estates, Isaias stripped several homes of their siding. The storm completely destroyed the back wall of at least one home, and caused another’s roof to collapse.
In Millsboro, an American sycamore snapped in half and fell through Cathy Powell’s roof as she was watching the news report tornado warnings around 8:30 a.m. The tree’s leaves covered her house, located on Possum Point Road. No one was injured.
On Westview Terrace south of Dover, a tree fell on top of a sedan and crushed the roof of the car. In nearby neighborhoods, residents strolled out late Tuesday mornign to find down trees lining most streets.
Residents on Sunset Lane in Lewes said the storm seemed to have passed when suddenly strong winds started blowing in off the nearby water, uprooting at least five trees in the small neighborhood. One of those trees fell on Jacqi Detweiler’s car.
“I heard a bunch of loud banging, the power went out and then I looked out and saw the tree fall,” Detweiler said.
She yelled from her porch before taking cover back inside the house. A few doors down, another fallen tree narrowly missed the home where Deborah Bodine lives.
“This is the first time I’ve ever dealt with something like this,” she said. “It was just chaos.”
Power outages in Delaware and Maryland
Thousands of Delaware and Maryland residents are without power Tuesday morning, as Tropical Storm Isaias brings heavy rain, strong winds and a few tornadoes to the Delmarva region.
Delmarva Power’s online outage map shows 756 current outages in Delaware and Maryland, impacting 63,848 customers. There were less than half as many outages two hours prior. The most heavily affected areas are the Delaware beaches and the Middletown, where about 20,000 customers total are without power. In Salisbury, about 8,000 Delmarva Power customers are without power.
Outages reported by Choptank Electric are affecting about 11,000 customers in Maryland. Talbot and Wicomico Counties has been the heaviest hit with about 45% and 35% of customers out of service respectively.
DART temporarily stops operations
DART, Delaware’s public transportation system, is pausing operations in New Castle and Kent Counties until it is “determined to be safe to operate” and detours can be determined.
Trees, power lines down in New Castle County, road flooding reported
Across New Castle County, first responders are receiving reports of trees and wires down on roads. Water is pooling on roads, and a small creek on Timberline Drive in Newark has flooded the road, bringing debris with it.
Assateague Island closed
Assateague Island, Virginia is closed until further notice due to damage from the storm, according to a Facebook post from the Emergency Operations Center for Chincoteague Island, Virginia.
All Assateague Island campgrounds closed Monday at 10 p.m. and will remain closed until Thursday. Those with reservations will receive a full refund via recreation.gov.
Tornado confirmed in Smyrna
The National Weather Service confirmed tornado damage along Route 13 in Smyrna. A nearby wind sensor recorded a gust of 96 mph at 9:09 a.m., according to the weather service.
Dover police: Don’t call 911 unless ‘true emergency’
According to Delmarva Power’s online outage map, about 1,000 customers in Dover are without power.
Dover police said officers are responding to “multiple calls for service due to possible tornado damage in the city.” The police building is operating by generator power, which the department said is affecting some operations.
Police ask that residents don’t call 911 unless it’s a “true emergency.” Dover Fire and Dover Electric are working with police.
Effective as of 9:30 a.m., Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen issued a state of emergency for the city, which includes driving restrictions. The city is asking residents to stay home and avoid any unnecessary travel.
Ryan Coon, pastor of Calvary Church in Dover, said he was at an eye appointment on South State Street when the power went out, and he received a tornado warning on his phone.
He said people started feeling pressure in their ears. When he went outside, he saw multiple trees down and what looked like damage from a tornado touching down.
“It came out of nowhere. Everyone’s safe, everyone’s good,” he said in a Facebook Live video around 9 a.m.
“If you get a tornado warning on your phone today here in Dover, Delaware, or anywhere for the next couple hours, you may want to listen to it. Because that was a legit tornado that just landed, no joke five to ten minutes ago, right outside Delaware Eye Care Center.”
Tractor-trailers overturn on Route 1
Three tractor-trailers overturned on Route 1 by Harris Road between Townsend and Odessa. The south lanes of Route 1 are closed in the area, according to the Delaware Department of Transportation.
Further south, Route 1 is closed in both directions at Jefferson Bridge Road in Bethany Beach due to down trees and wires, the agency said. John J. Williams Highway (Route 24) east of Angola Road is currently closed in both directions at Camp Arrowhead Road.
Tornado and flash flood warnings issued for Delaware
New Castle County’s tornado warning has been extended to 10 a.m. A flash flood warning is in effect in Kent and Sussex Counties until 12 p.m. and in New Castle County until 1:15 p.m.
According to the National Weather Service, up to two inches of rain have already fallen across portions of Kent Counties in both Maryland and Delaware, as well as southern Cecil County. The heavy rain is moving north and will move into New Castle and Cecil Counties shortly, the agency said.
The National Weather Service tweeted at 8:46 a.m. that two confirmed tornadoes have occurred in Delmarva in the past 30 minutes. Earlier in the morning, tornadoes were confirmed in Maryland near Vienna and Girdletree.
High winds recorded in southern Delaware
As of about 8:30 a.m., a max wind gust of 60.7 mph was recorded at the Indian River Inlet. Sustained wind at the inlet is about 43.7 mph. In the last 24 hours, 0.41 inches of rain has been recorded there.
The Delaware Environmental Observing Station in Rehoboth Beach recorded a max gust of 42.8 mph in the last hour.
At least two tornadoes confirmed on Maryland Eastern Shore
At least two radar-confirmed tornadoes were located Tuesday morning on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, according to the National Weather Service.
The first was located at 6:01 a.m. near Vienna moving north near Sharptown, Hurlock and Choptank.
Social media reports indicate the tornado littered Route 50 with debris and caused damage in Mardela Springs, with photos posted to Facebook showing at least one home destroyed.
A second tornado was located on radar at 7:20 a.m. just north of Girdletree heading toward Snow Hill.
A tornado warning for Worcester County was extended until 8:30 a.m., and the region remains under tornado watch until noon.
Tornadoes are most likely through midday from southeast Virginia all the way to New Jersey, according to the 5 a.m. hurricane center forecast. Tornadoes will remain possible Tuesday afternoon and evening from southeast New York across New England, the hurricane center said.
Light rain and breezy in Ocean City, Maryland
A few people jogged along the northern portion of Coastal Highway between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. under a constant light rain. There were plenty of motorists on the highway heading in both directions. There is some standing water in northern Ocean City, which tends to flood, but nothing serious early Tuesday morning.
Heavy rain, not much more, in Delaware in the early morning
At daybreak in southern Delaware, thunder could be heard in the distance, but gray skies seemed rather calm as the storm was just beginning to reach the Mid-Atlantic Region.
In Delaware City early Tuesday, rain was steady but the Delaware River didn’t look too alarming at low tide. In northern Delaware, heavy rain was constant starting around 7 a.m.
New Jersey, under a tropical storm warning, declares state of emergency
Monday, 10:47 p.m.
Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency as Isaias barrels toward New Jersey. The state is under a tropical storm warning.
The state of emergency went into effect at 5 a.m. Murphy urged residents to avoid leaving their homes and to stay off the roads, though he clarified that travel was not yet formally banned. Heavy rainfall up to 6 inches could impact the state along with damaging winds and possible isolated tornadoes.
Contributing: Isabel Hughes, Delaware News Journal; Maddy Lauria, Delaware News Journal; Esteban Parra, Delaware News Journal; Damian Giletto, Delaware News Journal; Jenna Miller, Delaware News Journal; Laura Benedict, Salisbury Daily Times; Keith Demko, Salisbury Daily Times; Rose Velasquez, Salisbury Daily Times; Shannon Marvel McNaught, Dover Post; Emily Lytle, Dover Post; Ben Mace, Dover Post