Posted at 1:15 p.m.
Winter Preparedness Week in Virginia is next week, Dec. 1-7, but Mother Nature doesn’t often time her delivery of inclement weather with pre-arranged observances. And that’s the case with this week’s pre-Thanksgiving weather forecast.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter weather advisory from 4 a.m. Tuesday morning until 1 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. The winter weather advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. You should be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving. It is possible that tomorrow morning’s rush hour may be slippery, with the wintry mix turning to rain at around noon. No snow accumulation is expected.
Drive with Caution
Before heading out in inclement weather, be sure someone (a friend, relative or co-worker) knows that you are taking a trip, where you are going, the routes you will travel and when you expect to arrive. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) offers these winter weather driving safety tips:
- Clear the snow and ice from your vehicle’s roof, hood and trunk and especially from the windows, mirrors and lights.
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Leave a few minutes early.
- Start out slowly in the lowest gear recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
- 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.
- Don’t pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary. Treat these as you would emergency response vehicles.
- Before you leave town, fill your gas tank. While traveling, frequently refill the gas tank.
- Don’t get on the road without a winter travel survival kit.
- If your vehicle breaks down, pull as far off the road as possible. Your greatest personal danger at this point is being hit by passing cars.
- Stay in the car if visibility is poor. You may become disoriented and lost while wandering in a snowstorm, making it more difficult for rescuers to find you. If you have a cellphone, call for help.
Overall, most winter storm deaths result from vehicle or other transportation accidents caused by ice and snow. Residents should avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. These are serious conditions that are often underestimated, and they make driving – and even walking outside – very hazardous.
Before you hit the road, get statewide highway information 24 hours a day, call 511 or go to 511virginia.org. You can also call the VDOT Customer Service Center 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623). More on snow removal and road conditions.
Official National Weather Service Forecast (1 p.m.)
Tuesday: A chance of rain, snow and sleet before 9 a.m., then a chance of freezing rain and sleet between 9 a.m. and noon, then rain after noon. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 40. Light and variable wind becoming east 5 to 8 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 100 perecent. Little or no ice accumulation expected. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Tuesday Night: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. Low around 38. East wind 9 to 11 mph becoming northwest after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.
Wednesday: Rain showers before noon, then rain and snow showers likely. High near 41. Northwest wind 14 to 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Wednesday Night: A slight chance of snow showers before 1am. Mostly clear, with a low around 26. Blustery. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.
Thanksgiving Day: Sunny, with a high near 34.
Posted 2:32 p.m.
Trash and recycling collection for sanitary district customers receiving Wednesday, Thursday and Friday collection from Fairfax County will slide by one day.
- Wednesday customers will be served on Thursday, March 7
- Thursday customers will be served on Friday, March 8
- Friday customers will be served on Saturday, March 9 – so long as conditions allow.
In order to collect all trash and recycling in a timely fashion in existing conditions, yard waste collection will be suspended until Monday, March 11.
Trash and recycling collection in sanitary districts will return to the normal schedule on Monday, March 11.
Questions related to solid waste collection in sanitary districts may be referred to 703-802-3322, TTY 711.
Residents receiving trash and recycling collection from private service providers should contact their collection company directly for schedule information.
Posted 2:15 p.m.
But what about sidewalks and other areas around your home or business?
The state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe (homeowner associations may require members of their communities to clear walkways near their property). You should, as soon as possible, clear snow off the sidewalks in front of your property so that all pedestrians, especially school children, people with disabilities and the elderly, may walk securely as conditions improve.
Eight ways you can help:
1. Start a neighborhood team to help shovel snow for elderly and those unable to shovel. And please be aware of the risks for people with heart conditions.
2. Residents and businesses should ensure all accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities are cleared of snow and ice.
3. Don’t put trash cans and recycling bins out until after the plows have come.
4. If possible, remove parked cars from the road. Navigating around objects severely hampers a plow or heavy equipment driver’s ability to clear the roads and costs valuable time.
5. Clear snow away from fire hydrants in your neighborhood. Ask neighbors to adopt a fire hydrant and clear snow and ice away from all hydrants so that they are easily visible in the event of a fire.
6. Shovel snow into the yard instead of into the street to minimize the problem of the snowplow covering your driveway with snow after you’ve just shoveled it.
7. Keep the openings of storm drains clear of snow and debris to help alleviate potential flooding and to protect the environment. (At no time, however, should a resident attempt to enter a storm drain to remove debris.)
8. Volunteer to use or lend equipment such as small snow blowers for a community removal effort.
Posted 12:44 p.m.
We need your help. Fire hydrants may need be to be cleared in your neighborhood. The expected snow accumulations combined with the after-effects of plowing roads may result in many fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow. By keeping fire hydrants clear of snow, you can help firefighters to easily locate hydrants and access water quickly, preserving valuable time to potentially save lives and structures while the snow is still on the ground.
Take note of hydrant locations in your neighborhood and help keep them clear! Thanks.
Posted 11:40 a.m.
A winter storm warning is still in effect and snowfall rates are picking up as the brunt of the storm is hitting us now. In general, we can expect a total of 6-10 inches of snow in Fairfax County depending on your location. See the map with the latest predictions.
We’ve been publishing key information this morning and here’s a list of topics we’ve shared:
- Power Outages
- Downed Trees
- VDOT Snow Plowing Map
- Trash Collection
- Calling 9-1-1
- Heart Conditions/Snow Removal
- County Offices Closing at Noon and Public Meeting Cancellations
As the snow intensifies, think about neighbors who may need help either removing snow or just a check in to see how they’re doing.
Posted 10:41 a.m.
Fairfax County Government offices and services will close at noon today. Emergency personnel are still required to report for duty. Libraries will be closing at 11 a.m.
Most public meetings have been cancelled for this evening. School activities are cancelled the rest of the day. Courts are also closed.
Posted 9:55 a.m.
We can’t stress the following information enough because the snow that’s expected to fall will be very heavy and wet. In addition to the weight of the snow, cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.
While some heart attacks are sudden and intense, many heart attacks start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away.
If you have family members or neighbors with heart conditions, remind them of this information; try to find someone to help remove the snow.
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.
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
Posted 8:35 a.m.
The “Snowquester” storm includes heavy, wet snow and strong winds, with gusts as high as 35-40 mph. Downed trees and downed power lines are expected — and we’re starting to get a few reports.
In all cases, stay away from downed wires near downed trees. Electricity can travel through tree limbs. Never remove tree limbs or other items that are touching or near a downed wire.
If a tree hits your home:
- Get everyone safely out of your house. Go to a nearby shelter (another home or open public facility) to stay dry and out of the elements.
- Use your cell phone or go to a neighbor and call 9-1-1.
- Stay away from the home until public safety employees can access the home for structural stability and ensure utilities are controlled.
- Only after all of these safety measures have taken place should you call your insurance company.
For downed trees near roads or not into a home:
Adjacent to Public Roads
- Contact Virginia Department of Transportation at 1-800-FOR-ROAD, TTY 711.
On County Parkland
- Contact Fairfax County Park Authority at 703-324-8594, TTY 703-324-3988.
Posing Hazard to Public Areas
- Contact Fairfax County Urban Forestry at 703-324-1770, TTY 703-324-1877.
- Removal is the property owner’s responsibility.
Posted 7:50 a.m.
Please only call 9-1-1 if you have an emergency today. Do not call 9-1-1 to report power outages; call your utility company.
If you have a police/fire non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
The Police Department has implemented its accident policy, which means accidents are too numerous so they will not respond to minor fender benders, only personal injury accidents.
If for some reason you are unable to reach 9-1-1, use these alternate numbers: 703-691-2131 or 703-691-2233. These numbers may be used for either emergency or non-emergency calls. Do not call these numbers for power outage information.
Posted 7:27 a.m.
The forecast calls for heavy snow and wind, which may impact power lines and cause outages. Here is what you can do to be prepared:
- Save important phone numbers to your phone or write them down, especially your power company.
- Make sure you have a battery powered radio. We will work with radio media.
- View tips from Dominion Virginia Power and NOVEC
- Dominion Virginia Power outages and downed wires: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; also on your mobile device.
- NOVEC (Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative) outages and downed wires: 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711.
- Stay away from downed wires as they may be live with electricity. Call 9-1-1 or police non-emergency number 703-691-2131, TTY 711, if you see downed lines.
- Do not use candles as they may pose a fire threat.
- Be sure to operate generators safely.
If you lose power, turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads when power is restored.
An electrical power outage will affect the safe storage of refrigerated and frozen foods. Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk and eggs that are not stored properly refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed. In order to protect these foods from spoilage and save them for your use during the emergency, follow these guidelines.
Posted 7:12 a.m.
County trash and recycling collection service in sanitary districts has been cancelled for Wednesday, March 6. The current plan is to collect trash and recycling from Wednesday and Thursday customers on Thursday, March 7, as conditions permit.
If you have private trash collection, contact your provider.
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:
Posted 3:29 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued its latest forecast for the storm. As you can see on the map, most of Fairfax County is expected to receive 8-10 inches, with western parts of the county upwards of 14 inches. A winter storm warning remains in effect for the county and region through this evening. This heavy, wet snow will be accompanied by strong winds (35-40 mph gusts).
Significant Snow Possible for the Area
Posted at 11:44 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch starting Tuesday evening and lasting through Wednesday evening. A winter storm watch means there is a potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel.
Accumulations of more than 5 inches are possible with the potential for significant snowfall somewhere within the watch area. (NWS graphical maps)
NWS reports that the precipitation will be mixing with and changing to snow Tuesday night, with snow continuing into Wednesday evening, causing difficult driving conditions. Heavy wet snow and gusty winds also could lead to power outages.
The Weather Service, however, notes that “uncertainty remains with the track of the low and location of the rain/snow line,” which ultimately will determine snowfall totals.
There also is a potential for flooding of creeks and streams if heavy rain occurs Wednesday, or if significant snow melt occurs thereafter.
The Capital Weather Gang has dubbed the potential storm “Snowquester” and that big March snows “can and do happen at the close of winter.”
The most snow D.C. has ever seen on one day in March is the 11.5″ on the 29th in 1942. The largest March snowstorm on record is 12 inches, way back on the 27th-28th of 1891.
Residents are encouraged to stock up today on winter preparedness emergency supplies and other preparedness items, such as :
- Have extra batteries in case of power outages.
- Keep cellphones charged and purchase a charger for your car if you don’t already have one.
- Purchase rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products. Sand also is helpful to improve traction.
- Make sure that snow shovels and other snow removal equipment are in a convenient place and ready to use if necessary.
Should significant snow affect our area, please minimize travel and remember to “get where you need to be before the weather gets bad.” If travel is necessary, keep an emergency supply kit in your vehicle. Also, don’t forget your pets — bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Stay tuned to local weather forecasts, NOAA weather radio and this blog for additional information. And be sure to sign up for weather alerts from CEAN — the Community Emergency Alert Network — at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cean.