Posted at 2 p.m.
One of the big improvements in the county’s new alert system — Fairfax Alerts — is the ability to customize weather alerts specifically the way you want them and when you receive them.
If you’re not signed up yet for Fairfax Alerts, do so right now! And customize your weather alerts once you’ve signed in.
Posted at 1 p.m.
This week, June 22-28, is Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Summer is the peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena — lightning.
According to a recent report from NOAA (PDF), June, July and August are the peak months for lightning activity across the U.S. and the peak months for outdoor summer activities. As a result, almost two thirds of lightning deaths occurred to people who had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities; more than 70 percent of these lightning deaths occurred during the summer months with Saturdays and Sundays having slightly more deaths than other days of the week.
Have you heard these lightning myths? If there’s lightning, lay down flat on the ground. Seek shelter under a tree. And don’t touch someone who’s been struck or you’ll get shocked. Yes, all of these statements are myths. Here’s the truth:
- If you lay down on the ground, you’re more exposed to electrical currents running underground.
- Never seek shelter from lightning under a tree. It is actually the second leading cause of lightning fatalities.
- If someone is struck by lightning, don’t be scared to assist him or her immediately. The human body does not store electricity and helping them immediately could be essential to their survival.
Before you go out in the rain, know the facts.
- Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year! (The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes.)
- Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, not the rubber tires.
- A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity.
How many lightning myths have you heard?
Posted at 11:20 a.m. /Updated 3:03 p.m.
Last night’s storm caused a significant number of downed trees and power outages in the Belle Haven/New Alexandria area. Public safety, emergency management and public works personnel are in the area responding. Please use caution in the area.
If you have a power outage, call Dominion Virginia Power at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; or Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) at 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711 depending on who provides your electrical service.
Other important emergency numbers can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/emergency-phone-numbers.htm.
Posted at 10 a.m.
This week — especially today — is hot and humid outside. Temperatures will be in the upper 90s today and it only “cools” down to the upper 80s later this week, definitely weather fitting for the first day of summer this Saturday.
If you work outdoors, especially anyone doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment, you should take steps to prevent heat illness:
- Drink water often.
- Take breaks.
- Limit time in the heat.
And please remember — never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle!
Fairfax County Cooling Centers
With these high temperature and heat index, there is an increased risk of heat-related illness for those without air-conditioning or those outdoors for an extended period.
During extremely hot days, there is plenty that you can do to stay cool, like go to a movie, stroll through a shopping center or visit one of Fairfax County’s Cooling Centers:
Please check the operating hours to ensure the facility is open before arriving. Remember — resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses.
There are many tips online for staying cool; heat safety tips are available online also. Residents who need help to keep their home cool may be able to get assistance from two programs locally administered by the county.
Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency — call 9-1-1 for immediate, life-saving help.
Find more information from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health as well as the county’s emergency Web page.
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.
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.
Posted at 2 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning until 4:15 p.m. this afternoon for Fairfax County and other portions of Northern Virginia.
At 1:17 p.m., NWS Doppler radar indicated very heavy rain capable of producing flash flooding. Up to three inches of rain has fallen in the last 24 hours. Additional rainfall amounts of up to 1 inch can be expected.
Please remember to turn on your headlights anytime you turn on your wipers, but also if it’s overcast or rainy — like today. The short video below from the California Department of Motor Vehicles does a good job of showing why you need to turn on your headlights. Plus, it’s also the law!
Posted at 11:55 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for Fairfax County until 3 p.m. 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.
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. Bruce McFarlane with our Emergency Management Office offers this advice.
And please keep your children inside and away from streams and creeks.
Our emergency management office, in consultation with NWS, reports that anywhere from 1.25 to 2 inches of rain had fallen across Fairfax County this morning with another 1.5 inches of rain expected between noon and 6 p.m. Rainfall totals should approach 5-6 inches over the course of the storm.
Huntington and Belle View/New Alexandria
For residents in the Huntington area, there could be some street flooding sometime today. County officials also report that residents in the Belle View/New Alexandria area could experience localized street flooding today. You should continue to move your vehicles to higher elevations if you have not already done so.
Fairfax County’s public works and emergency management officials do not anticipate any structural flooding at this time in either of these communities, but staff are continuing to monitor the storm — including our Emergency Operations Center — and will provide updates to residents if conditions change. Be sure to sign up for weather alerts to ensure that you receive these messages.
Get more on the weather forecast at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/weather-forecast.htm.
Posted at 11 a.m.
Fairfax County is now under a Coastal Flood Advisory and a Flash Flood Watch beginning this evening at 10 p.m. A flash flood watch means that there is the potential for flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. Rapidly moving water is powerful and can be a threat to vehicles as well as people and property.
The National Weather Service (NWS) Hazardous Weather Outlook forecasts thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon and evening that will be capable of producing torrential rainfall and damaging wind gusts.
NWS reports that rain will continue through Wednesday night with the heaviest rain expected tonight through tomorrow night. Storm total rainfall amounts will average between 3 and 5 inches with locally higher amounts likely. Heavy amounts of rain in short periods of time may cause flash flooding of creeks streams and urban areas.
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.
Bruce McFarlane is with our Emergency Management Office and offers this advice if you’re in your car.
And please remember to keep your children inside and away from streams and creeks.
Get more information about flood safety and what you should do before, during and after a flood at www.floodsafety.noaa.gov. Here’s a list of areas in the county that have previously flooded. For more information on flood safety tips and information, visit ready.gov/floods or the Spanish-language website listo.gov.
In addition, continue to monitor weather forecasts and be prepared to take action should warnings be issued. A warning would mean that we have moved from the possibility of flooding to a flooding situation in a specific area.
Posted at 10:30 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for gusty winds and low relative humidity in effect from 11 a.m. this morning to 8 p.m. this evening for portions of Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County.
A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.
- Humidity: 20 to 30 percent late this morning through early this afternoon.
- Winds: Northwest 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph.
- Fuel moisture is less than 8 percent.
Posted at 4:30 p.m.
A National Weather Service winter storm warning is in effect from 7 p.m. this evening until 2 p.m. Monday, March 17. A winter storm warning for heavy snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring.
Significant amounts of snow are forecast — accumulations of 4 to 8 inches.
A mix of rain and snow early this evening will change to all snow by mid evening. Snow will continue overnight through early afternoon Monday. The heaviest snow is expected late this evening through early Monday morning.
Roads will become snow covered and slippery. If you don’t have to be on the roads, stay home — plan to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad. Visit the Virginia Department of Transportation for the latest on the roads.
Due to the winter weather and existing road conditions, Fairfax County trash and recycling collection customers in sanitary districts will receive trash and recycling collection on the following schedule:
- Monday routes will be collected today, Tuesday, March 4.
- All special collections scheduled for Monday or Tuesday (March 3 and 4) will be postponed until next week.
- Tuesday routes will be collected on Wednesday, March 5.
- Wednesday and Thursday routes will be collected on Thursday, March 6
- Friday routes will remain as scheduled.
Please check the customer website for updated service information. Service-related questions can be directed to the Customer Service Center at 703-802-3322, TTY 711.
The impact of the winter weather may also be affecting the operations of private trash and recycling collectors. Customers of private service providers (more than 85 percent of county households) should contact their trash and recycling collector directly for any changes in service. Contact information for private trash and recycling collectors operating in Fairfax County is available online.
If your trash collection service has been postponed until another day please remove your trash containers from the curb in order to enhance the effectiveness of snow clearing operations and to avoid having your containers damaged or buried in snowbanks.
Due to the weather, all Neighborhood and Community Services community centers, senior centers and teen centers will open at 1 p.m. today.
Posted at 10:23 p.m.
Fairfax County Government offices will open on time on Tuesday, March 4, however employees have been granted unscheduled leave. Emergency service personnel should report as scheduled. Read more about how/why snow decisions are made.
Fairfax County Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, March 4; School Age Child Care (SACC) centers will also be closed.
The Fairfax County Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court will open on time.
Parks, Community and Recreation and Community Centers
- If you have questions about Park Authority facilities, contact the site directly, call the Parks inclement weather line at 703-324-8661, TTY 711, or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks.
- For Department of Neighborhood and Community Services programs and events visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ncs or call 703-324-4600, TTY 711.
- The Reston Community Center and the McLean Community Center may be affected by the inclement weather. Call RCC at 703-476-4500, TTY 711, www.restoncommunitycenter.com or MCC at 703-790-0123, TTY 711, www.mcleancenter.org for their current operating status.
Transportation: Connector, Fastran
- Fairfax Connector bus service may be affected by the inclement weather. Check the Connector Web page at www.fairfaxconnector.com for the current operating status.
- For information about FASTRAN, call 703-222-9764, TTY 711, or online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ncs/fastran.htm.
- Library hours may be affected; call your local branch before visiting. For branch phone numbers, call 703-324-3100 or go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library.
View the public meetings calendar at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/calendar/ShowCalendar.aspx for any potential cancellations of public meetings of Fairfax County government Boards, Authorities or Commissions.
Winter weather preparedness information can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/prepare/winter.
Posted 5:35 p.m.
Neighbors: Please check in on elderly or other housebound people you may know to make sure they have enough heat and food.
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. Fairfax County’s emergency homeless shelters have additional capacity during winter months to take in people overnight who are at risk of hypothermia. Emergency personnel will determine which shelter option is best in the situation. Learn more about our emergency shelters and hypothermia program.
Pets: Don’t forget your pets — bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
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.