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Roads are Wet – Drive Careful This Afternoon

Posted at 4:20 p.m.

Fairfax County and the surrounding areas have received a lot of rain in the past 24 hours, and while the intensity has decreased, rain is still falling in certain areas and roadways are wet, which affects your ability to quickly stop your vehicle during your afternoon commute.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this afternoon and evening as you travel.

First, turn on your headlights and your windshield wipers. Your wipers are obvious, but unfortunately, many of us forget to turn on our headlights, which helps us be seen by others on these overcast, grey rainy days.

Once in your vehicle and on your way, remember to give yourself plenty of space around other vehicles. AAA Mid-Atlantic suggests on three-lane roads to drive in the middle lane. They say that most roads are higher in the middle, which means there’s a greater chance of water runoff and standing water in the side lanes.

Avoid Hydroplaning

Be sure to slow down when you see water standing on the surface of the pavement, especially on freeways. Also, drive in the tracks left by any vehicle ahead.

If hydroplaning does occur, do not brake. Instead, ease your foot off the accelerator to gradually decrease speed until your tires regain traction, and continue to look and steer where you want to go. In fact braking in wet conditions is tricky business. Sudden, hard or prolonged braking can cause a skid.

If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS), all you need to do is press the brake pedal and hold it down. Do not pump the brakes, because ABS does that very rapidly for you. The system automatically senses if a wheel begins to lock and quickly releases and reapplies the brakes as many times as necessary to keep the wheel from locking up.

If your vehicle is not equipped with anti-lock brakes, the best way to brake under these conditions is to use squeeze braking. For squeeze braking, keep your heel on the floor and use your toes to apply pressure on the brake pedal. If the wheels lock, ease off the brake pedal to a point where they just release. Adjust pedal pressure as necessary. This gives you the best combination of braking effort and directional control.

Flood Warning and Flash Flood Watch

The National Weather Service has extended the Flood Warning for Fairfax County until 9 p.m. tonight and a Flash Flood Watch remains in effect through late tonight.

Rapidly moving water is powerful and can be a threat to vehicles as well as people and property. Please stay away from rapidly rising creeks and streams and don’t drive through roads covered in water. You can’t tell how deep the water may be, so remember to turn around, don’t drown.

Weather information is online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/weather-forecast.htm.

Tips provided by AAA Mid-Atlantic

 

VDOT: Stay Off the Roads on Monday

Posted 9:10 p.m.

From our friends at the Virginia Department of Transportation:

VDOT snow plowDrivers should stay off the roads tomorrow, Monday, March 3, during a storm expected to bring significant sleet, snow and frigid temperatures to Northern Virginia. By midnight tonight, 4,000 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties.

Info for Northern Virginia drivers and residents:

  • Drivers are strongly advised to stay home during the storm.
  • Crews will plow and treat interstates, major roads and neighborhoods concurrently.
  • Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William residents can enter their address at www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in their neighborhood.
  • Park in your driveway or on the odd-numbered side of the street to allow plows room to pass.
  • When shoveling, leave the last few feet at the curb until the street is plowed, as the truck will push some snow back. Shovel to the right facing the road.
  • Chemicals are not used in subdivisions, but crews sand hills, curves and intersections to provide traction. For most storms, one snowplow pass, about eight to ten feet wide, is made.

Get more information:

Things to Know for the Weekend

Posted at 4:14 p.m.

As we continue to dig out of the recent winter storm, more snow is possible. The forecast from the National Weather Service calls for snow tonight and Saturday morning, with cold temperatures dropping Saturday night to around 19 degrees.

Here are some things to keep in mind this holiday weekend:

1.) VDOT Snow Removal: The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on most county roads.

2.) Help Neighbors: Please check in with your neighbors to make sure they have supplies and to help them shovel out driveways, cars and sidewalks.

3.) Exercise Caution: Shoveling snow can be physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains and heart attacks.

4.) Beware of Ice: With the cold temperatures, snow that has melted will refreeze and create hazardous icy conditions, including black ice. Drive cautiously and be careful walking outside.

5.) Hypothermia Prevention: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

6.) Pets: Don’t forget your pets. As the temperatures drop, bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

7.) Fire Hydrants: As streets continue to be plowed and snow is displaced onto sidewalks and roadsides, there may be a need to dig out fire hydrants.

8.) Fill Your Car: Keep the gas tank filled. Here’s more information on winterizing your vehicle.

9.) For additional updates throughout the winter season, follow us on Twitter at @fairfaxcounty. For more resources, visit our winter weather page.

VDOT: Travel Conditions Remain Hazardous; Stay Off Roads

Posted 12:40 p.m.

From our friends at the Virginia Department of Transportation:

The Virginia Department of Transportation continues to advise motorists to stay off roads in Northern Virginia today. Snow, sleet and refreeze throughout the afternoon will cause a wide range of road conditions. 4,000 trucks are making headway plowing interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets simultaneously.

“We urge drivers to stay off roads while conditions are still changing,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s Northern Virginia district maintenance engineer. “It is imperative to the safety of drivers as well as our snow crews.”

On the roads:

  • Interstates are mostly clear and wet. Primary roads are partially clear with some lanes open, and many secondary roads remain snow-covered. Roads that appear to be bare pavement may become slick from sleet and refreeze.
  • If stranded, keep vehicle lights on and avoid getting out of your vehicle. Call #77 (Virginia State Police) who will dispatch VDOT Safety Service Patrol. Call 911 in case of an emergency.

In neighborhoods:

  • Residents can enter their address at www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in their neighborhood and watch trucks as they travel their plow routes.
  • Crews will plow streets and sand hills, curves and intersections to provide traction. With this deep snow, roads will have an eight-to-ten foot path but not bare pavement.
  • Keep vehicles in driveways or on the odd-numbered side of the street to allow plows room to pass.
  • Wait until plow passes. When shoveling, leave the last few feet at the curb until the street is plowed. as the truck will push some snow back. Shovel to the right facing the road.

Stay informed:

Track VDOT Snow Plowing Efforts

Posted 12:19 p.m.

The Virginia Department of Transportation handles snow removal on most roads in Fairfax County. If you’re wondering about the status of plowing on major and secondary roads, check out VDOT’s snow plowing map.

VDOT Snow Removal Map

5 Things to Know: VDOT Road Snow Removal Update

Posted 5:22 p.m.

From our friends at the Virginia Department of Transportation in Northern Virginia:

Virginia Department of Transportation crews and 4,000 pieces of equipment continue working in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties. Crews are focusing on plowing and treating during the height of the storm expected from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and will turn to treating icy spots overnight due to extreme low temperatures.

If you need to be out, here’s what you need to know:

  1. The height of the storm is expected during rush hour, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Motorists should monitor road conditions closely and avoid driving if possible.
  2. Chemicals used to treat roads become ineffective under 20 degrees. Tonight, crews will continue to plow roads, as well as treat ice with a mixture of salt and liquid magnesium chloride on interstates, and a treated sand mix on primary and local roads.
  3. Bridge pavement temperatures are expected to be as low as four degrees tomorrow morning. Drivers should use extreme caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses and other areas prone to freezing.
  4. High winds will cause snow to drift back into roadways and refreeze.
  5. Crews will continue plow subdivisions overnight and treat icy spots.

Get More Information

Winter Storm Warning for Dec. 9 Canceled

The National Weather Service has canceled today’s Winter Weather Storm Warning for Fairfax County and the D.C. region.

Temperatures will continue to rise slowly this morning.

Drive cautiously as roads remain slick and icy. Check out these maps of road closures and conditions across Fairfax County.

And, keep any eye on tomorrow’s weather forecast—more winter weather may be on the way.

Track VDOT Snow Plowing Efforts

Posted 9:09 a.m.

The Virginia Department of Transportation handles snow removal on most roads in Fairfax County. If you’re wondering about the status of plowing on major and secondary roads, check out VDOT’s new snow plowing map.

VDOT Snow Removal Map

Learn how it works in this video:

Major routes are treated with chemicals and plowed once two inches have fallen. In subdivisions and other low volume roads hills and other trouble spots are treated with sand and plowed when two inches have accumulated.

In Northern Virginia, VDOT has one snow removal program for high volume roads such has Interstates 66, 95, 395, 495, Routes 1, 7, 15, 28, 50, Fairfax County Parkway, etc.), and another snow removal program for subdivisions (main thoroughfares in neighborhoods, residential streets and cul de sacs). Therefore, crews will be working on high volume roads and in subdivisions concurrently. Within each of these programs, roads with the highest traffic volumes are cleared first.

VDOT reminds motorists to use caution when driving during wintry weather. Drivers should:

• Check current weather, road conditions and traffic before traveling at www.511Virginia.org or by calling 511
• Slow down and allow for extra time to reach your destination
• Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges
• Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road

Six Morning Commute Tips

Posted 5:05 a.m.

If you plan to drive or take transit this morning, please use your best judgment and keep in mind these quick tips so you arrive safely and keep others safe, too. These will also be important as the day progresses and the storm gets worse.

1.) Some snow has already fallen. Clean your car off completely. Use headlights, too!

2.) Slow down and allow for extra time to reach your destination. Slowing down is also a good idea since slippery roads mean less stopping time.

3.) Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges.

4.) Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles.

5.) Stay in the car if visibility becomes poor later today. You may become disoriented and lost while wandering in a snowstorm. If you have a cellphone, call for help. Have a few supplies in your car such as a blanket and some food.

6.) Drivers, watch out for pedestrians and pedestrians watch out for drivers. Let’s all get to our destinations safely and take our time.

Here are some more tips from VDOT:

Traffic Lights Out; Obey Four Way Stops

Posted 8:11 a.m.

There are many intersections in Fairfax County right now that are without working traffic lights. If you go out today, drive with caution and PLEASE obey 4-way stop rules at intersections without power.

  • Treat each traffic light as a four-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.

Traffic Updates for Hurricane Sandy

Posted 7:27 a.m.

More than 400 Virginia Department of Transportation crewmembers have begun 12-hour shifts monitoring roadways in Northern Virginia. Our county police are monitoring roadways, as well.

turn around don't drownAs conditions in Northern Virginia will deteriorate throughout the day, drivers are asked to make every effort to be off the road. Please, get where you need to be before the weather gets bad (and plan to stay awhile!). Make every effort to be off the road during heavy rains and tropical-storm force winds.

If you are driving and encounter flooded roadways, “turn around, don’t drown.” Water may be much deeper than you think.

If you encounter traffic lights without power, drivers are reminded to obey four-way stop rules at intersections without power.

  • Treat each traffic light as a four-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.

High water on roads in flood-prone areas, traffic signal outages, and road closures due to debris, downed trees and power lines are expected over the next several days.

VDOT reminds drivers:

  • Slow down on wet roads to avoid hydroplaning.
  • Ensure vehicles have adequate fuel to complete trips during power outages.

We will post road closure updates here on this blog as we receive them. You can also get the latest road conditions at www.511virginia.org or by downloading the 511 mobile app.

View the entire list of roads closed due to the storm, sortable by county, at http://www.511virginia.org/mobile/?menu_id=conditions.

Car Preparedness: Fairfax Prepares Day 28

Posted 2:40 p.m.

day 28 iconIn our recent emergency information survey, we asked about steps you have taken to be prepared. Two-thirds of respondents indicated that home preparedness kits have been created, far exceeding typical preparedness numbers nationwide. Many of our tips in this series address items you should include in your kits.

But what about your car?

Many of us drive in our community, be it across the county, into D.C. or other neighboring jurisdictions. It’s no secret many of us commute, often for long periods of time.

If you drive, then please consider a small stash of supplies for your vehicle. Only about 33 percent of survey respondents indicated they have supplies in their cars.

What should be in a car preparedness kit? Here’s a sampling of ideas across all seasons:

  • Blanket
  • Clothes with warm, comfortable footwear
  • Diapers if you have children
  • First-aid kit 
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Food, such as snack bars
  • Ice scraper/brush and snow shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Knife
  • Maps
  • Paper towels
  • Phone charger
  • Plastic bag with seal for waste
  • Sand, salt or kitty litter
  • Sign to request help
  • Soap
  • Towels
  • Water

Also, it’s critical to ensure you have at least a quarter tank of gas in case there are massive traffic delays. You may recall the January 2011 snowstorm that caused many people to be on the roads for 10+ hours. Try to always be prepared with gas and many of the supplies listed above.

Exclamation point iconTHE ASK: Find a small bag and place in your car with as many items listed above as possible.

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 publicaffairs@fairfaxcounty.gov that you accomplished an ask.

SHARE THIS TIP:

  • Click the links below to email, share on social media or print a hard copy. Thanks!

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