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Flood Warning Until 7 p.m. Tonight (April 15) for Eastern Fairfax County

UPDATE: 4:25 p.m.

This afternoon’s flood warning has been canceled by the National Weather Service.

Posted at 3:45 p.m.

The National Weather Service  has issued a Flood Warning for urban areas and small streams in Eastern Fairfax County until 7 p.m. this evening, Tuesday, April 15.

Around 3 p.m. this afternoon, observations indicated one to two inches of rain had fallen today between Burke and Springfield. Area streams were on the rise and some flooding of low-lying areas near streams, as well as low spots on roads near the stream crossings, is expected this afternoon.

A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or has been reported. Stream rises will be slow. However, you should take necessary precautions immediately. Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause elevated levels on small creeks and streams and ponding of water in urban areas such as highways, streets and underpasses as well as other poor drainage areas and low lying spots.

If you encounter excessive water on area roads, remember to “Turn Around; Don’t Drown.” And please keep children indoors and away from streams or creeks that may rise rapidly.

Get more on the weather forecast at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/weather-forecast.htm.

Know What To Do If You Encounter Flooding This Spring

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

This is Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 16-22), but flooding can happen at any time and anywhere!

Flooding causes more damage in the U.S. than any other weather related event and is the second leading cause of weather related fatalities in the U.S. (behind heat). On average, floods cause $8 billion in damages and over 80 fatalities annually.

Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult. Only 18 inches of flowing water can carry away most vehicles, including large SUVs. It is impossible to tell the exact depth of water covering a roadway or the condition of the road below the water. This is especially true at night when your vision is more limited. It is never safe to drive or walk through flood waters. Any time you come to a flooded road, walkway or path, follow this simple rule: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
Turn Around. Don't Drown.
One way to prepare is with flood insurance. Keep your head above water by learning the basics about this special coverage available for homes and businesses. Here’s what you should know:

  • Flood losses are not typically covered under renter and homeowner’s insurance policies.
  • Flood insurance is available in most communities through insurance agents.
  • There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a valuable resource to learn more about your flood risk, how to find an agent, and the flood recovery process. NFIP also offers interactive ways to understand floods. Calculate the cost of flooding, watch real flood testimonials and launch a levee simulator to take your flood knowledge to the next level.

More information about floods and what you should do before, during and after a flood is at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards/flooding.htm.

Flood Warning Tonight; Be Careful Around Roads, Creeks and Streams

Updated 11:35 p.m.

Flood warning in effect until 5:15 a.m.

Posted 5:48 p.m.

turn around don't drownThe National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for our area until 11:15 p.m. A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or has been reported.

From the weather service:

Three to six inches of rain has fallen. An additional one to three inches of rain is expected through this evening. The heavy rainfall will cause creeks and streams to rise out of their banks. 

Precautionary/preparedness actions…

Most flood deaths occur in automobiles. Never drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road. When encountering flooded roads make the smart choice…turn around…don’t drown.

If you find yourself or see others trapped in a vehicle due to rising/standing water, call 9-1-1. We experienced water vehicle rescues earlier this year in July after heavy rain, so please pay attention, especially as it becomes dark outside:

View roads that historically flood in the county.

In addition to the driving safety tips, please keep children away from creeks and their potentially rapidly rising waters.

Drive Carefully, Watch for Flooded Roads and Turn On Headlights

Updated 4:10 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for Fairfax County until midnight.

Two to five inches of rain has already has fallen since Wednesday across the greater Washington, D.C. metro area; additional amounts of one to locally three inches are possible through this evening. This amount of rainfall would cause flooding of small streams and urban areas.

A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

 

Posted at 3:15 p.m.

 

Motorists are reminded to be mindful of flooded roads on the commute home this afternoon. Fairfax County Police are currently reporting several road closures in the county.

Never drive through standing water on a roadway. Water may be much deeper than you think, causing your car to stall or even get stuck in hidden debris.  When in doubt, remember to “turn around, don’t drown.” And please remember to turn on your headlights whenever you turn on your windshield wipers. Not only will it help your vehicle we seen — but it’s the law!

Additional Flood Safety Tips

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups.
  • Keep children away from creeks as water may rise rapidly.

If you need help or witness someone needing help, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

If you live in a traditionally flood-prone area of the county, then you may want move your vehicles to higher ground. View a list of roads that traditionally flood in Fairfax County: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards/roads-that-flood.htm

The Importance of “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”

Posted 9:46 a.m.

Sometimes when we share the message, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” we hear feedback that it’s an obvious statement or unnecessary.

We use this message often because nationwide, over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Overnight, our Fire and Rescue Department conducted eight swift water rescues, successfully helping a total of 11 people out of their vehicles, including this one:

We share this safety message not because we want to share the most obvious observation, but because it really can happen, as proven last night.

Three key tips to keep in mind:

  1. Never drive through a flooded roadway; the depth, current and condition of the road are all unknowns and can be deadly.
  2. If your vehicle stalls on a flooded road and water is rising, get out of car, call 911, and move to higher ground.
  3. Be especially cautious during periods of limited visibility or nighttime when it is extremely difficult to see and judge conditions.

"Turn Around, Don't Drown" image

Potentially Dangerous Storms Loom for Thursday; 7 Ways to Prepare Now

Posted 3:53 p.m.

Potentially dangerous thunderstorms are possible in our area Thursday. The National Weather Service is calling for possible heavy rains, flooding, tornadoes and strong winds that could pose numerous challenges.

Take this threat seriously. While nothing like the wrath of last year’s derecho storm is predicted at this time, this line of storms may cause more havoc than a usual summer thunderstorm. There are a few things you can do today and this evening to prepare:

1.) Secure Loose Items

Bring in or secure any loose items outside your house or on your condo balcony. High winds could cause those objects to fly around and injure people or damage property.

2.) Storm Drains

Check rain gutters and storm drains. We’ve had a lot of rain in recent days and with more on the way, flooding is possible, so make sure drains are clear.

3.) Digital Preparedness

Prepare digitally! Power outages are possible, so have your devices fully charged. Here are 10 more tips to help with digital preparedness.

4.) Power Outage Supplies

Have enough batteries, flashlights, radios and other things you may need for a power outage.

5.) Report Power Outages

Be ready to report power outages to your provider: Dominion Virginia Power 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; NOVEC 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711.

6.) Stay Alert and Informed

Weather forecasts can vary, so stay informed and keep an eye on changing weather conditions. Pay particular attention to tornado watches (conditions favorable) and warnings (tornado sighted, seek shelter).

  • Sign up for our emergency text alerts/emails. If you live in the Huntington, Belle View and New Alexandria areas of the county, you should choose the “Riverwatch” group for information about possible flooding.
  • Follow @fairfaxcounty on Twitter; use #ffxstorm to share what you’re seeing locally.
  • This blog will have updates as events warrant, so if you’re not already subscribed by email or RSS, please do so by visiting the top right column of this page.
  • Follow local media reports, credible social media accounts and other information sources for the latest alerts, warnings and protective actions.

7.) Share Information

Share this information with coworkers, neighbors, your faith community and more. Use the sharing tools below or print this information. Help someone, too, such as an elderly neighbor in securing loose items or checking storm drains.

 

Audio Tips:

Localized Flooding Anticipated from Tropical Storm Andrea

Posted at 6:30 a.m.

The latest National Weather forecast calls for heavy rain bands to move into our area today with the heaviest rain expected mid-day continuing into the evening. We already received roughly 1-2 inches of rainfall overnight and officials are anticipating another 2 to 4 inches of rain today.

Based on the latest NWS forecast we may experience significant street flooding in the Huntington area and localized street flooding in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas. Residents in those areas of the county are encouraged to move their vehicles to higher ground. Use common sense and don’t park in restricted areas.

At this point, structural flooding is not anticipated in either the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas. 

A flash flood watch has been issued for the majority of the National Capital Region, including Fairfax County, with heavy rainfall expected during the day and into the evening. A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.

Excessive runoff from heavy rains may lead to flash flooding of low lying areas and small streams. Parents are reminded to keep children away from streams and rivers as they may overflow very quickly and with saturated river banks, playing near moving water is a dangerous situation. Please keep children away from creeks/streams that may rise rapidly.

turn around don't drownIf you are in your car, remember “Turn Around; Don’t Drown.”  Water may be much deeper than you think, causing your car to stall or even get stuck in hidden debris; road beds may be washed out under flood waters. Just six inches of swiftly moving water can knock someone off their feet and approximately two feet of swift water can move or float most vehicles, including SUV’s and pickup trucks. Don’t get trapped in flood waters – find an alternative route.

You probably already are familiar with them, but here’s a list of roads that traditionally flood in Fairfax County.

You should continue to monitor the weather forecast for updated information and be prepared to take action as necessary.

National Weather Service Radar

For more information on flood safety tips and information, visit ready.gov/floods or the Spanish-language website listo.gov.

Turn Around. Don’t Drown

turn around don't drown

Posted at 12:25 p.m.

The National Weather Service reports that more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather-related hazard. Avoid flood hazards by following the mantra “Turn Around. Don’t Drown.”

Six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. As little as 12 inches of flowing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs. Safety first – if you are unsure about the amount of water on a flooded road, Turn Around. Don’t Drown.

With rain in the forecast for the next couple of days, here’s a few reminders to keep you safe during a flood:

  • Always plan ahead and know the risks before flooding happens.
  • If flooding is expected or is occurring, get to higher ground FAST! Leave typical flood areas such as ditches, ravines, dips or low spots and canyons.
  • NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. Turn Around Don’t Drown.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Never cross any barriers that are put in place by local emergency officials.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around. Don’t Drown.

If you need additional information, contact our Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711, or email oem@fairfaxcounty.gov.

March 18-22 is National Flood Safety Awareness Week

Posted at 3:20 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are partnering to improve awareness for National Flood Safety Awareness Week this week, March 18-22. The goal is to improve understanding about flood risk among individuals, families, businesses and communities. Knowledge and the right precautions can protect families, homes and finances.

Floods are the most common hazard in the United States. However, not all floods are alike. Floods typically occur when too much rain falls or snow melts too quickly. Chunks of ice from a thawing river can block its normal flow and force water out of its banks.

While some floods develop slowly, flash floods develop suddenly. Hurricanes can bring flooding to areas far inland from where they first hit the coast, as we witnessed two years ago from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and last year from Hurricane Sandy.

turn around don't drownThere are simple steps you can take today to reduce the risk to all types of floods.  Most importantly, never attempt to drive through roadways covered with water; remember “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” Check this list of roads in Fairfax County that have flooded.

For more information on flood safety tips and information, visit ready.gov/floods or the Spanish-language website listo.gov. For information on how to obtain a flood insurance policy, visit floodsmart.gov.

Gusty Winds and Flash Flood Watch Issued

Posted at 3:48 p.m.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Fairfax County through late tonight. The forecast indicates warm temperatures surging ahead of a cold front will fuel several weather threats today and tonight:

  • Strong winds. Winds will steadily increase today with possible gusts near 40 mph by this evening. These damaging wind gusts could cause downed trees and electric lines.
  • Heavy rain. While total rainfall is only expected to be 1 to 2 inches, it will likely fall in a short period of time and this could cause flash flooding. Those in low lying areas of the county need to monitor the situation and be prepared to move vehicles or families to higher ground should the need arise.

5 Tips to be Ready

  1. Get where you need to be before the weather gets bad. If you have a high profile vehicle like a SUV, they are more sensitive to strong wind gusts.
  2. Don’t drive through high water – remember to “Turn around, don’t drown.”
  3. Exercise extreme caution at intersections. If traffic signals lose power, remember to treat that as a 4-way stop, with the driver on the right having the right-of-way.
    • Proceed with caution only when traffic permits.
    • Enter intersections only when it is safe to do so, using turn signals to let other motorists know your intentions.
    • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
    • Watch out for and obey police officers directing traffic within intersections.
  4. Have flash lights readily available — with extra batteries – and make sure your cellphones are fully charged. 
  5. Check on your neighbors, especially if your neighborhood loses electricity.

 

Stay Informed

Be sure to sign up for free weather alerts from CEAN, the Community Emergency Alert Network. And if you need them, here’s a list of important phone numbers that may be helpful.

Occoquan Dam Siren Test at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13

Occoqun Dam Siren

Posted at 2:51 p.m.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, there will be an audible test of a new warning siren system installed along the banks of the Occoquan River between the Town of Occoquan and Belmont Bay. 

This is only a test and is being conducted as part of an educational campaign to inform residents and business owners about the new siren system. For this test, you do NOT need to seek higher ground. Representatives from Fairfax Water, as well as officials from the town of Occoquan and Prince William and Fairfax counties will be in and around the town should residents have questions.

The Occoquan Dam Siren system exists to alert persons below the Occoquan Dam in the extremely unlikely event of a structural failure of the dam. If the siren sounds, residents, business owners and visitors inside the inundation zone should seek higher ground.

The inundation zone is a small area adjacent to the banks of the Occoquan River between the Town of Occoquan and Belmont Bay that will flood if the Occoquan Dam experiences a structural failure. The siren will only sound during testing of the system or if the Occoquan Dam fails in a non-weather-related event.

Occoquan Dam Inundation Zone MapThe siren has been installed for two reasons:

  • Because of changing regulatory requirements, one of Fairfax Water’s regulatory agencies – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – suggested that a sound-related system be installed to inform people downstream of the dam in the extremely unlikely event of a dam structural failure.
  • Communities closest to the dam, namely the Town of Occoquan, worked closely with Fairfax Water and felt that a siren system would be the most effective and desired form of communication to alert people. 

The siren project is a collaboration between Fairfax Water, the Town of Occoquan, Fairfax County and Prince William County.

For more information, visit www.occoquandamsiren.com/.

About the Occoquan Reservoir and Dam

Fairfax Water owns and operates the Occoquan Reservoir as a drinking water source for Northern Virginia. The Occoquan Dam was built in the early 1950s to create the Occoquan Reservoir that now holds approximately 8.3 billion gallons of water. The dam is inspected and maintained on a routine basis. The structural integrity of the Occoquan Dam is very sound. Rigorous maintenance and improvements to the dam have made it even stronger today than when it was constructed. The dam is approximately 72 feet tall and 70 feet wide at its widest point. It is anchored to the bedrock below the bottom of the dam and to the sides of the reservoir. It contains more than 100,000 cubic yards of mass concrete. That is equivalent to:

  • 10,000 truckloads of concrete
  • Approximately 400,000,000 pounds of concrete
  • A concrete path that is 3 feet wide, 1 foot thick, and 6.3 miles long.

No Flooding Imminent or Expected in Huntington, Belle View or New Alexandria

Posted 10:17 a.m.

Huntington: Residents may return to their homes as the flooding threat from this storm has passed.

Belle View/New Alexandria: Based on current National Weather Service models and forecasts, we do not anticipate flooding.

For residents of both areas, please stay informed and alert for the next 48 hours in case conditions change. We will be monitoring river flows for the next few days and alert residents as needed.

Belle View/New Alexandria Flooding Possible

Posted 10:30 p.m.

Belle View/New Alexandria residents should prepare for the possibility of flooding in their neighborhood tomorrow afternoon or evening. If you live east of Fort Hunt Road, west of the George Washington Parkway, south of Belle Haven Road and north of Wake Forest Drive, you are in the areas the county is checking.

County engineers are monitoring the situation. If flooding is imminent and an evacuation is required, you will be called and public safety personnel will knock on your door.

A shelter has been established at the Lee District RECenter, 6601 Telegraph Road, Alexandria. Directions can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/maps/parkmaps_lee.htm.When you are evacuating, please bring:

  • A three-day supply of special items for any older adults, people with disabilities or infant members of your household, including assistive equipment.
  • Special diet food, esp. if you have food restrictions/allergies.
  • Change of clothing for each family member.

Pets – Animal Control will have a mobile van to shelter companion animals (cats and dogs) affected by the evacuation at the Lee District RECenter, 6601 Telegraph Road.  Do not bring the pet’s toys and food. Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be in a carrier.

Travel Safely: Turn around, don’t drown – Never drive through standing water on a roadway — turn around, don’t drown. Water may be much deeper than you think.

Once you are in a safe location, let a family member or friend know your whereabouts.

For additional information or questions, call the emergency hotline at 571-350-1300, TTY 711.

Huntington Area: Immediate Evacuation of Two Streets

Posted 5:26 p.m.

Residents who live on these roads in the Huntington area of the county MUST evacuate their homes immediately:

  • Fenwick Drive
  • Arlington Terrace

For public safety, power will be turned off as necessary on these two streets, so it is essential that you leave now. 

Please move your cars to higher ground.

Connector buses will be available at 2400 Huntington Ave., if you need transportation to the shelter at the Lee District RECenter, 6601 Telegraph Road, Alexandria.  The buses are wheelchair accessible and will accept companion animals(cats and dogs). Dogs must be on leashes and cats in carriers.

When you are evacuating, please bring:

  • A three-day supply of special items for any older adults, people with disabilities or infant members of your household, including assistive equipment.
  • Special diet food, esp. if you have food restrictions/allergies.
  • Change of clothing for each family member.

Pets – Animal Control will have a mobile van to shelter companion animals (cats and dogs) affected by the evacuation at the Lee District RECenter, 6601 Telegraph Road.  Do not bring the pet’s toys and food. Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be in a carrier.

Travel Safely: Turn around, don’t drown – Never drive through standing water on a roadway — turn around, don’t drown. Water may be much deeper than you think.

Once you are in a safe location, let a family member or friend know your whereabouts.

For additional information or questions, call the emergency hotline at 571-350-1300, TTY 711.

Move Cars and Belongings in Low-Lying Areas Ahead of Hurricane Sandy

Posted 8:32 a.m.

national weather service track for sandyHurricane Sandy continues to be a major threat to Fairfax County and could lead to substantial impacts in the next few days.

Residents in the Huntington neighborhood, and in other low-lying areas across the county, are encouraged to:

  • Move vehicles to higher ground. Use common sense and don’t park in restricted areas. Try to avoid parking under trees when possible.
  • Move any valuables from the basement, especially if your basement has flooded before.

Please note that with all high-intensity rainfall, street flooding is possible. If there is any possibility of a flash flood:

  • Move immediately to higher ground.
  • Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels and other areas known to flood suddenly.
  • Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.

This storm will bring the risk of flooding to streams, creeks and low-lying areas overnight Sunday through Tuesday. This may cause many secondary roadways to become impassable.

Motorists are reminded that if you find yourself driving in potential flash flood conditions, never drive through standing water on a roadway — turn around don’t drown. Water may be much deeper than you think, causing your car to stall or even get stuck in hidden debris.

Also, please keep children away from creeks that may rise rapidly.

County public works, emergency management and public safety personnel are monitoring the weather conditions and will begin emergency operations on Sunday.

We will alert residents should any additional information become available or actions necessary.

For the official NWS forecast, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/oem/weather.htm.

View our storm update from last night and learn about the opportunity to ask your questions tonight at 6 p.m. to Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, County Executive Ed Long and other county officials.

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