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
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.
Posted 4:39 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for our area until 10 p.m. and a flash flood warning until 9 p.m. You need to be alert for both threats this evening.
The worst of the potential weather may hit during rush hour between 6 and 8 p.m.
Important Driving Tip:
- If driving and it’s raining, turn on your headlights so other drivers, pedestrians and bikers can see you. Slow down while driving, too.
Tornado Safety Tips:
- A watch means conditions are possible for tornadoes to develop.
- A warning means a tornado has been sighted; seek shelter immediately.
- Pay attention to our text/email alert system, media outlets and credible social media channels for any warnings.
- Determine in advance where you will take cover in case of a tornado warning.
- Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
- If underground shelter is not available, go into a windowless interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
- A vehicle does not provide good protection. A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby. Lie down flat and cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- More tornado safety tips.
Flood Safety Tips:
- “Turn around, don’t drown.” Never drive through a flooded roadway as the depth and water current are unknowns and could be dangerous.
- Keep children inside and away from streams and creeks. The county has experienced loss of life in previous years because of rapidly rising water.
- More flood safety tips.
For Residents in Belle View/New Alexandria and Huntington Areas:
- Based on the latest forecast, if we receive two inches of rainfall within a one hour period the Huntington area could experience significant street flooding. Residents should move cars to higher elevations. Localized street flooding could be expected in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas. We do not anticipate any structural flooding at either the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas. We will continue to monitor the weather conditions. Residents should be subscribed to the Riverwatch list on CEAN.
Posted at 8:35 a.m.
The Statewide Tornado Drill is this morning at 9:45 a.m. Our emergency management office will send a Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) message announcing the drill so you won’t forget to participate. If you are not registered for CEAN alerts, take this opportunity to do so.
What You Should Do During the Drill?
- You should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near your home or office building. Move as quickly as possible to the nearest shelter or other safe place. Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building; avoid using elevators.
- Make sure that any visitors to your office know that this is a drill, not a real event. Assist any visitors to shelter.
- In a real tornado emergency, once you reach a safe area, crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover your heads with their hands. Ensure that everyone in your organization knows this. You can practice crouching down.
Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere with little or no warning. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives. How will you respond to a tornado warning?
Know the Terms:
- Tornado Watch – Conditions are favorable for a tornado and that tornadoes are possible.
- Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar and might be headed your when. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.
Do You Know What to Do if a Tornado Approaches?
If a tornado is headed your way:
- Shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. Go to the building’s basement.
- If there is no basement in your home or office, move to a small, windowless, interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building.
- If you are in a high rise building go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- When shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area (do not get under an overpass or bridge).
For more information or assistance with emergency planning, contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
Posted at 12:15 p.m.
Last month, we encouraged you to register for Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill, scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m.
As Michael Guditus, Fairfax County’s emergency management training coordinator, explains below, there is still time to so. Check out the video for more information and to hear the benefits of participating.
To sign up for the drill, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s registration webpage.
Posted at 11:48 a.m.
It’s one month away! Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m. The date also will be observed as Tornado Preparedness Day across the state.
The tornado drill is an important statewide safety exercise. In recent years Virginia has been hard hit by multiple tornadoes that have cost lives and left extensive property damage. Some communities continue to recover from devastating tornadoes.
In each of the past two years, some 1.2 million Virginians have registered to participate in the Statewide Tornado Drill. Registration for this year’s drill is now open. To register and to learn more about planning a tornado drill, go to www.vaemergency.gov and click through the rotating graphics at the top of the page, or go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
Additional help in planning a tornado drill is available through the county’s Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711. The Statewide Tornado Drill is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Ready Virginia and the National Weather Service in cooperation with local emergency management offices.
You may also want to go back and look at a recap article from the county’s three-day tornado exercise held last year, “Tornado Education, Engagement and Exercise.” It includes links to resources to know the difference between a tornado watch and warning, how to recognize the danger signs of a tornado, 10 questions to ask if a tornado strikes Fairfax County, and a daily recap of each day of the exercise that provides some valuable insight into what actions the county will be going through if a major tornado were to strike here.
If widespread severe weather threatens on March 12, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 13, at 9:45 a.m.
Posted 1:32 p.m.
A strong cold front will move through our area later today (probably between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.). This front could cause damaging wind gusts in excess of 55 mph, locally heavy rainfall and an isolated tornado. Please stay informed as the storm may be heavier in some areas, including localized flooding.
A tornado watch has been issued for the National Capital Region until 7 p.m. Know the differences between tornado watches and warnings.
Six Actions to Take:
1.) Sign up for weather text/email alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cean and/or pay close attention to weather forecasts.
2.) If roads flood, “turn around, don’t drown.” Do not drive through flooded roads. This storm may strike us during rush hour, so please slow down and allow extra time for travel.
3.) Please keep children away from streams and creeks that may rise rapidly.
4.) Bring in any outdoor furniture or other items that may not be secure.
5.) In case you lose power, call your provider. Do not assume they know your power is out. For Dominion Virginia Power customers, call 1-866-366-4357, TTY 711. For NOVEC customers, call 1-888-335-0500, TTY 711.
6.) If you are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1. If you are experiencing other public safety non-emergencies, please call 703-691-2131, TTY 703-204-2264.
Posted 4:58 p.m.
Yesterday, our community was battered by some very strong storms. We even had a tornado warning; while first reports indicated there were some tornado touchdowns, the National Weather Service later concluded all damage was from straight line winds.
But, it’s important to remember that tornadoes can impact our community. And while it’s not prime tornado season right now — usually early spring — it’s important to know what to do in the event a tornado approaches our area and what to do after one may hit us.
In March, Fairfax County Government held a three-day emergency exercise around a major fake tornado scenario. The fake tornadoes struck around 8 a.m. on March 19 in the western part of county near Centreville, Chantilly and Fair Lakes. There were many major impacts.
THE ASK: This week, review our series of blog posts from the tornado exercise and ask yourselves the various questions we posed. How would you answer? Are you prepared for a tornado or other incident that could impact us in similar ways?
TELL US you’ve done this:
- Post a quick reply in this blog’s comments section below such as “I’ve done this.”
- Use the Twitter hashtag #fairfaxprepares and tweet your accomplishment. Include photos if you’d like.
- Like our special Facebook page for this campaign to leave comments and share tips with your friends.
- Email us at email@example.com that you accomplished an ask.
SHARE THIS TIP:
- Click the links below to email, share on social media or print a hard copy. Thanks!
Posted 8:05 p.m.
The National Weather Service tornado watch continues until 2 a.m. A second wave of storms is on its way to our area bringing with it heavy rain, wind, hail and possible tornadoes. This second wave will hit between 9 and 11 p.m.
Please stay alert for changing conditions, especially nighttime tornadoes and road flooding. Two cars were caught in swift water this evening, so please, turn around, don’t drown.
Stay tuned to local media, our emergency alert network, social media or other tools that will alert you.
The tornado warning for Burke, Lorton and Springfield areas has been cancelled.
Rain, winds and hail still expected tonight. Please be alert for more warnings.
When driving, turn around, don’t drown.
Posted 3:01 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch until 9 p.m. for Fairfax County and the entire National Capital Area. Thunderstorms, heavy rains, wind, large hail and potential flooding are also expected beginning this afternoon.
This is a dangerous storm. Let’s break down potential issues to consider:
A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado and that tornadoes are possible. The National Weather Service is predicting that the greatest threat for tornadoes in Fairfax County will be between 7 and 10 p.m.
Think of where you would normally be during that time –at home, in a restaurant or movie theater, outdoors, at work or in the car. You may only have a few seconds to react. Decide now where you would go if a tornado warning is issued.
You may also be sleeping, too, so ensure you have some way to be notified of a potential tornado warning. Sign up for our Community Emergency Alert Network, listen to a weather radio, follow social media sites or watch local TV.
View more tornado preparedness and safety tips.
Heavy Rain, Winds and Flooding
This weather system could bring winds up to 50 mph and 1-2 inches of rain. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. Do not drive in flooded roads – “turn around, don’t drown.” Also, it’s very important to keep your children inside and away from streams and creeks.
If you live in a flood-prone area, identify where to go if ordered to evacuate and the safest route to get there. If there is a flood, you may only have minutes to get to safety. Choose several places – a friend’s home in another town, a motel or a shelter. View more flood safety tips.
Due to high winds, please secure all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
Due to high winds, you may lose power. Plan ahead for life without power. Have an emergency kit ready with food to eat and other supplies.
Avoid using lighted candles as they may cause a fire. Flashlights are safer when the power is out.
If you are driving and traffic lights are out, please abide by these rules.
In case you lose your power, here are the numbers to call to report the outage:
- Dominion Virginia Power outages and downed wires: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711
- BGE outages: 877-778-2222; downed wires: 800-685-0123
- NOVEC (Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative) outages and downed wires: 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711
- Pepco outages: 1-877-737-2662
Emergency Phone Numbers
Only call 9-1-1 for emergencies.
Refer to this list of important phone numbers for other key contacts; bookmark it on your computer, smartphone or write down the numbers.
During the last 10 days, we’ve engaged you on this blog, Facebook and Twitter about tornadoes. In an effort to compile most of our posts in one place, here are the key entries we’d ask you to read, discuss and then take necessary preparedness actions so our whole community is better prepared in the event of any incident from tornadoes to floods to terrorism:
Today at 9:45 a.m. is the Statewide Tornado Drill.
Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere with little or no warning. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives. How will you respond to a tornado warning?
Know the Terms:
Tornado Watch – Conditions are favorable for a tornado and that tornadoes are possible.
Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar and might be headed your when. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.
Know What To Do:
If a tornado is headed your way, shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. Go to the building’s basement. If there is no basement, move to a small, windowless, interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building. If you are in a high rise building go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. When shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area (do not get under an overpass or bridge).
As we continue to talk about tornadoes as part of the upcoming statewide tornado drill and the county government’s three-day emergency exercise, what are some signs of a developing tornado you should look for in case you don’t have access to a weather radio, social media or traditional media outlets (or if you’re just not sure)?
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Large hail
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
- Loud roar, similar to a freight train
If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
While Fairfax County government will be participating in our three-day tornado exercise described yesterday on this blog, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service are hosting the annual statewide tornado drill on Tuesday, March 20, at 9:45 a.m.
While we’re working in the county’s Emergency Operations Center on the tornado scenario, we’re asking you to participate in this simple statewide drill.
Businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals are encouraged to practice taking cover from tornadoes.
Here’s how it works:
- At 9:45 a.m., the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasters, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning.
- When the test tornado warning is sounded, people should move as quickly as possible to a safe area in their building. Safe areas are basements and crawl spaces, as well as interior rooms, bathrooms, closets or hallways on the lowest level of a building. In choosing a safe area, stay away from windows. Once in the safe area, crouch down or sit on the floor, facing down, and cover heads with hands.
Everyone in Fairfax County (and throughout the Commonwealth) can participate in the statewide tornado drill. Please register for the drill so state emergency managers know how many people are practicing tornado safety. Registration is voluntary – the most important thing is for you to hold a tornado drill in your home, school or workplace at least once a year. Learn how to conduct your own drill.