Posted at 4:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service is expecting lighter precipitation this afternoon, but a second wave of freezing rain is expected overnight, which could lead to hazardous driving conditions in the morning. Substantial ice glazing is expected, which could cause power outages and associated problems.
Even a small amount of ice on walkways and driveways can lead to slips, trips and falls, which often lead to serious sprain and strain injuries. Our Risk Management Division recommends these safety tips if you have to be outside in today’s icy weather:
- Slow down and watch where you walk. Walk slowly and deliberately.
- Use handrails when you can.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets; you need to have both hands free for balance.
- Concentrate on what you’re doing – avoid texting or using your cellphone until you are inside a building.
- Make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear. Flat footwear with a good rubber tread provides the best traction.
- Walk in designated walkways. Avoid shortcuts that could conceal hazards.
- Be careful getting into and out of vehicles – and hold on to the vehicle for support.
- Use floor mats when entering a building to remove moisture from the bottom of your shoes. This will prevent you and others from having to walk on wet or slippery surfaces.
- If the ice causes tree limbs to fall in your yard, be careful when you are picking up the debris. Keep your back straight and lift with your legs. Also, know your physical limits. If there is a substantial amount of debris, get professional assistance with the removal.
Of course the best advice is to stay inside where you don’t have to battle the elements.
It’s best to not be out on the roads during inclement weather like today. With ice and freezing rain, traction becomes greatly reduced, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Clearing icy roads is also difficult for VDOT when there is a lots of traffic on the roads. More vehicles delay salt crews and plows, with roads remaining hazardous for a longer period of time. So if you don’t have to travel — don’t!
For those who must travel, slow down, wear your seat belt and use your brakes sparingly (to avoid sliding and spinning). Know road conditions before you leave.
- Road condition information is available 24/7 by calling 511 or going to www.511Virginia.org. Fairfax County also has a Web page featuring a compilation of road maps, including VDOT’s snow plow map.
- Even after roads have been treated with salt and/or sand, you should reduce speed and keep a safe driving distance from other vehicles on the road.
- Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F. If the road is wet, ice is likely, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses.
- Keep an emergency kit in the trunk to include such items as warm blankets, flash lights, non-perishable food, drinking water and a first-aid kit. Also helpful is a shovel, tow rope, cat litter (for traction) and jumper cables.
- Always bring a windshield scraper so you can clear your windshield and see where you’re going!
Be sure to keep your cellphones fully charged so you can monitor the weather forecast and news outlets. And be sure to subscribe for email updates from this emergency information blog (see sign up box at right). Additional emergency information is also available on the county website.
Posted at 12:15 p.m.
All activities scheduled in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) or on school grounds for today, Sunday, Dec. 8, beginning at 12:30 p.m. are canceled due to the weather. This includes extracurricular activities, interscholastic contests, team practices, field trips, professional learning and training courses, all adult and community education classes, recreation programs and community use by outside groups not affiliated with FCPS.
Parks, Community and Recreation and Community Centers
- Fairfax County Park Authority events, scheduled classes and Drop-in Group Fitness classes held at RECenters or other FCPA facilities are canceled for the weekend. FCPA classes held at school locations, senior centers or community centers are canceled for the weekend. Park facilities will remain open. 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.
- Reston Community Center (RCC) will be closing today at 5 p.m.
The regional libraries, normally open on Sundays from 1-5 p.m., will not open today due to the forecast.
With the inclement weather, it’s best to stay off the roads if at all possible. If you have to be out, check the county’s road hazards map, or call (511) or visit 511 Virginia for information on the status of roadways you may travel.
Emergency information is available on Fairfax County’s website and this Emergency Information Blog, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) or by calling the Fairfax County Emergency Information Hotline at 703-817-7771, TTY 711. Fairfax County Government Radio also will announce the county government closing status and broadcasts weather forecasts several times per hour.
View the public meetings calendar 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 at 3:55 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Fairfax County and the surrounding area from Sunday morning through Monday morning, forecasting snow and sleet changing over to freezing rain Sunday afternoon. Freezing rain is expected to last until late Sunday night or Monday morning before changing to rain.
Accumulations of 1 to 2 inches of snow and sleet and a quarter inch or more of ice accumulation is possible. Temperatures will be around 30 degrees with light Northerly winds.
Hazardous travel conditions are probable due to slick roads and icy conditions Sunday and possibly into Monday. NWS also notes that increased power outages are possible.
A winter storm watch means there is a potential for significant snow, sleet and ice accumulations that may impact travel. Residents should continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and plan to avoid traveling Sunday during the storm.
Forecast graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service
Posted at 12:30 p.m.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA),short emergency messages that can be received on some cellphones across the country, are one of the many technologies available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
WEAs are automatic and can provide emergency weather and imminent threat notifications, AMBER alerts and Presidential messages. Unlike text alerts you may receive from Fairfax County, WEAs are not subscription based, so customers of participating wireless carriers with WEA-capable phones do not sign up to receive the alerts.
The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC) is interested in learning more about your level of awareness of WEA messages. They are conducting a survey to help understand the accessibility of this unique technology and how it impacts your community.
Take the online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WirelessRERC_WEA_Survey.
Posted at 1 p.m.
This week, Dec. 1-7, is Winter Preparedness Week in Virginia. Are you ready for “old man winter” and possible inclement weather?
Whitney Kazragis, community outreach liaison with our Office of Emergency Management, offers several tips to prepare for the upcoming winter season, including what items to have in your home and car emergency supply kit.
Posted at 1 p.m.
While temperatures are somewhat milder this week, we did get a sneak peek at cold, winter weather over the Thanksgiving holidays. And Mother Nature is certainly getting ready to bring us colder temperatures and perhaps ice and snow — there’s a slight chance of snow next Monday — are you ready for winter weather?
This week, Dec. 1-7, is Winter Preparedness Week across Virginia, a great time to take a few minutes and make sure you have everything you need to be ready for wintry weather.
According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service (NWS) predictions for the winter of 2013-14 in Virginia suggest normal temperatures and precipitation for the season.
“We don’t see indications of an extremely cold winter in Virginia. However, the potential for normal snowfall and/or ice means we need to be ready for disruptions in travel and schedules,” said Bill Sammler, NWS Wakefield warning coordination meteorologist.
Winter Preparedness Tips
There are several easy things you can do to make sure that you and your family are better prepared for winter.
First, and you’ve heard this one before, but you need to take action and get an emergency supply kit. Imagine you can’t leave home because of a winter storm or you lost electricity for hours or days due to a winter storm. Your basic emergency supply kit should include:
- Three days’ food that doesn’t need refrigeration or electricity to prepare it.
- Three days’ water (a gallon per person per day).
- A battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries.
- A basic first-aid kit, with a supply of prescription medications.
- Extra blankets and warm clothing.
- Supplies for special members of your household, and don’t forget food and items for your pets.
Next, make a plan. Everyone needs an emergency plan. Decide who your out-of-town emergency contact will be and where will you meet up with family members if you can’t return home?
Third, get connected with ways to stay informed. Before, during and after a winter storm, you should:
- Listen to local media for weather information and news; don’t forget Fairfax County Government Radio for current weather forecasts and county news.
- Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions. You can sign up for free email and text alerts via our emergency alert system.
- Bookmark this emergency information blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Stay Off the Roads, Not Out in the Weather
Finally, remember this phrase to enjoy a safe winter: “Get where you need to go before the weather gets bad.” By staying off roadways during snow, freezing rain or sleet, you’ll be safer and give more room to snowplows clearing the streets and public safety officials to have less traffic to navigate during bad weather.
“One heavy snowstorm with power outages is enough to disrupt schedules and cause people to wish they had prepared better,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator of emergency management. It’s much safer to take a little time now and get ready before a winter storm arrives.”
Posted at 7 a.m.
Deep-frying turkeys has become an increasingly popular cooking method when preparing holiday feasts. While fried turkey may be a tasty addition to your meal, cooking with deep-fat turkey fryers can be a recipe for disaster.
They have a high risk of tipping over, overheating or spilling hot oil – which can lead to fires, burns and other injuries. So, before you try your hand at deep-frying that turkey, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following safety guidelines including:
- Make sure there is at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.
- Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.
- Completely thaw and dry the turkey before cooking.
- Never use a turkey fryer in, on or under a garage, breezeway, porch or any structure that can catch fire.
- Raise and lower food slowly to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
- Cover bare skin when adding or removing food.
- If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn off gas supply.
- If a fire occurs, call 9-1-1. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
For a safer alternative to deep-frying your bird, consider using an outdoor turkey cooking appliance that does not require oil.
Reprinted from the Individual and Community Preparedness e-Brief, Nov. 27 edition, from FEMA
Video: Turkey Fryer Fire Demonstration
Posted at 3:15 p.m.
This week’s combination of rain, blustery winds and falling leaves can make roadways and walkways slippery and potentially dangerous. Wally Simmons, loss prevention manager with the county’s Risk Management Division, offers several practical tips to keep you safe on your walk.
When out driving, Simmons adds that wet roads and fallen leaves also pose a hazard. He offers these tips when in your vehicle:
- Check your tires and brakes to make sure your car is prepared for slippery road conditions.
- Slow down if you are driving on a road covered with leaves, especially when driving around turns.
- Allow yourself plenty of room to stop in an emergency. Keep a greater distance between you and the car in front of you.
- Never drive through a leaf pile. Remember that a pile of leaves raked to the side of the road is an inviting place to a child and children enjoy jumping into leaf piles and hiding in them.
Here’s to a safe and injury free holiday season.
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 at 9:20 a.m.
NWS reports that northwest winds will average between 10 and 15 mph today with frequent gusts around 20 to 25 mph. The relative humidity will drop to between 30 and 40 percent and fuel moisture will remain low due to the recent dry conditions.
Please be careful igniting any flames, discarding cigarettes and handling other flammable materials that may lead to brush and wildfires.
The combination of gusty winds, low relative humidity and low fuel moisture will enhance the threat for the spread of wildfires across Northern and Central Virginia, most of Maryland and Eastern West Virginia through this afternoon.
For many people, the words “wildfire” and “Virginia” might not seem to go together, but wildfire risk is a genuine concern. Each year, according to VDF, about 1,600 wildfires consume a total of 8,000-10,000 acres of forest and grassland in the state. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDF) reminds residents that the Fall wildfire season continues through Nov. 30. The wildfire season means that conditions are ideal for wildfires at this time of year.
“Fall Back” and Gain an Hour of Sleep
Published at 11:45 a.m.
Daylight Saving Time (DST) officially ends Sunday morning, Nov. 3, at 2 a.m. And that means we need to turn clocks back an hour to standard time. Many of us aren’t up at 2 a.m. — or plan to get up at that time — just to change our clocks. So remember to move all your clocks back one hour before you go to bed Saturday night.
Daylight Saving Time is something we don’t pay much attention to — it’s just part of life every March and November to move our clocks. This year we’re asking that you make DST a bigger event in your home.
In addition to changing the time on your clocks, make it your goal to accomplish these two tasks before you go to bed tomorrow night to make sure you’re prepared for any possible emergency:
- First, change the batteries in your smoke alarms. For years, fire officials have encouraged changing the batteries in your smoke alarms every six months; what better reminder than Daylight Saving Time. Since it only takes a couple of minutes to change your batteries this is an easy “to do” item.
- Second, check your emergency supply kits (both in the home and your vehicles). Are they fully stocked? If not, make a quick list of what you need to get them ready, run to the store and update your kits. We’re still in hurricane season and winter weather will soon be here, so you’ll want to make sure you and your family are prepared for any possible emergency.
Being prepared doesn’t take a lot of time or money. But you do have to take action. So — change your smoke alarm batteries and update your emergency supply kits. And don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour before you go to bed tomorrow night.
Our Fire Department’s “Safety in Our Community” (SIOC) program, which began in June, has firefighters canvassing homes in neighborhoods every Saturday afternoon, checking for working smoke alarms. Firefighters install batteries and/or smoke alarms free of charge and offer home safety inspections and seasonal fire and safety information as part of the SIOC program. For more life safety information and details on the SIOC initiative, visit fairfaxcounty.gov/fr.
For more on emergency preparedness and making an emergency kit, contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
Streaming Live 24/7 to Keep You in Touch with Fairfax County
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
After the June 2012 Derecho storm, we conducted a community survey about communications. Nearly 6,000 respondents answered questions and generated nearly 18,000 individual comments, which provided us with some great insight for communications during future emergencies. For example, the second highest ranked way to access emergency information was radio, only behind mobile devices.
In the feedback provided, it also was suggested by many respondents that we create our own radio station that we program ourselves, so you don’t have to wait for commercial stations to get around to sharing Fairfax County-specific messages.
So, as an after action, we have created our own Fairfax County Government radio station, an online Internet station that will be programmed and run by the Office of Public Affairs.
One day we hope to fulfill our complete audio vision of public information by fully utilizing the 1670 AM radio spectrum we currently own and producing even more audio content for the county’s SoundCloud account. For now, we’re excited to be able to provide this Internet station. You can listen online as well as on your mobile device, meaning that you’ll be able to hear Fairfax County Government Radio 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in multiple ways anywhere you may be.
And during emergencies, we will use the station to share important emergency information in an audio format, the same way we currently use other platforms — like this blog as well as our emergency alert system where you can get emergency alerts by both text and email.
The station is now live and we hope that you will tune in and listen.
Updated Oct. 21, 4:46 p.m.
County staff continue to work in the area to make the necessary repairs. The signs are still in effect. People are ignoring the signs and they are wading and fishing in the water. We can’t lift the ban until we get a heavy downpour; the water is still contaminated. We are getting more tests done tomorrow but the tests from last week indicate there is heavy fecal contamination. The new test results may come back at the end of this week. In the meantime, we are depending on Mother Nature to send us some rain and wash out the stream!
Posted at 1:45 p.m.
Due to a sanitary sewer line collapse, Fairfax County officials advise residents to avoid contact with Holmes Run Stream until further notice. In particular, residents should avoid the stream area from Columbia Pike to Dowden Terrace.
Untreated wastewater was released into the stream, causing a potential health hazard. However, county employees have stopped any further discharge of untreated wastewater from entering the stream.
The county will be conducting environmental tests to determine bacteria levels in the water.
The break took place on Sunday, just south of Columbia Pike, below 3800 Powell Lane. Crews are on site working to repair the collapsed 33 inch pipe.
The Holmes Run stream is part of the Cameron Run watershed.
For more information, call the Fairfax County Wastewater Collection Division, 703-323-1211 (24-hour), TTY 711.
Updated 11:35 p.m.
Flood warning in effect until 5:15 a.m.
Posted 5:48 p.m.
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.
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:
In addition to the driving safety tips, please keep children away from creeks and their potentially rapidly rising waters.