Posted at 3 p.m.
Our community is at risk for the damaging effects of coastal and inland tropical storm systems and widespread flooding. To emphasize the importance of preparing for hurricane season — which starts June 1 – Gov. Terry McAuliffe has recognized May 25-31 as Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week across Virginia.
“As we saw in years past storms like Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, these storms can result in tragic deaths and tremendous damage to homes and businesses,” said McAuliffe.
Our emergency management officials encourage you to have an emergency kit of supplies, starting with three days’ of bottled water and non-perishable food; a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries to hear emergency information. Other items to include are flashlights and extra batteries, a first-aid kit and an extra supply of prescription medicines.
Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday
Also beginning today, May 25, through Saturday, May 31, the state is offering a Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. Shop during the sales tax holiday and you won’t pay sales tax on many supplies for protecting your home and business. Many useful items qualify (PDF). Shop for items that have a price of $60 or less, such as:
- Artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, reusable ice.
- Batteries, excluding car or boat batteries.
- Portable self-powered light sources, including flashlights and lanterns and glow sticks.
- First-aid kits.
- Cellphone chargers.
- Weather Band radios and NOAA Weather Radios.
You can also shop for items that have a sales price of $1,000 or less, such as portable generators and generator power cords; inverters and inverter power cables.
Posted at 3:55 p.m.
It’s smart to get ready for hurricane and flash flooding season, which arrives June 1. And it’s smart to save money.
You can do both by shopping for such products as batteries, food storage containers, generators, first-aid kits, bottled water, radios and more between May 25-31 during Virginia’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. When you do, you won’t pay sales tax on many useful products that cost up to $60 or on generators costing $1,000 or less. That’s a savings of 5 percent.
And gas-powered chainsaws that cost $350 or less and chainsaw accessories that cost $60 or less also are tax free — a new addition to this year’s sales tax holiday.
A complete list of exempt items available for purchase is online at www.tax.virginia.gov/salestaxholiday.
Posted at 11:30 a.m.
The Virginia Department of Health reports that “out of an abundance of caution, health officials are investigating potential exposures to a second person with measles in the National Capital Region.”
New potential exposure sites and times have been identified that occurred between May 11-15. The locations in Fairfax County include McLean, Herndon, Fairfax, Reston and more. Visit the VDH website for more details.
This new investigation expands the recent one of a measles case in late April in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. The second case of measles was confirmed in a person who was a close contact of the first case. Regional health officials are mounting a coordinated effort to identify people who may have been exposed to this second case.
After you check the list, please share this information with your family, friends, co-workers and more.
Posted at 1:45 p.m.
You may head out on a boat to the Potomac River or other bodies of water in the coming weeks. We want you and your family to be safe.
Boating safety advocates are teaming up to promote safe and responsible boating, including consistent life jacket wear during National Safe Boating Week, May 17-23.
According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, drowning was the cause of death in nearly 75 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2012, and that 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Life Jacket Safety Tips
No matter what activity you have planned – boating, fishing, paddling or other water activities – always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket.
Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities.
Take the time to ensure a proper fit. A life jacket can be too large or too small.
Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”
Get more information from the safe boating campaign.
Posted 8:12 a.m.
More than 30 roads (as of 7 a.m.) are closed due to flooding this morning.
As always, never drive through flooded roads. Turn around, don’t drown. Numerous swift water rescues have been conducted today.
Here are a few examples of flooded roads that have been tweeted today:
Posted 7:37 a.m. // Updated 7:55 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning until 10:15 a.m. because of all the rain we’ve received since last night. Excessive runoff from the heavy rain will cause flash flooding of small creeks, streams, urban areas, highways, streets, underpasses and other drainage areas and low lying spots.
UPDATE: List of road closures
Key safety tips to keep in mind:
- If you’re driving, please do not drive through flooded roads. Turn around don’t drown. There have been some swift water rescues today.
- Today is Bike to Work Day. If you’re still planning to bike to work, please be safe in areas with high water.
- Please keep children away from creeks and streams as the water may rise quickly.
Posted at 12:45 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch in effect until 8 p.m. this evening, Thursday, May 15.
In addition, a flash flood watch is in effect from 6 p.m. tonight through Friday afternoon for Fairfax County and the National Capital Region. A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding.
Showers and scattered thunderstorms are expected with periods of heavy rain developing late this afternoon and continuing through midday Friday. The heaviest rain will be late tonight into Friday morning. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected with locally higher amounts possible. This amount of rainfall has the potential to produce flash flooding, especially in urban areas and along small rivers and streams.
Huntington and Belle View/New Alexandria Residents
Based on the latest NWS forecast, county officials estimate that if we receive localized rainfall of 1-1/2 inches of rain within a one hour period, residents will likely experience minor street flooding in the Huntington area. As a precaution, residents in the Huntington area are encouraged to move vehicles to higher elevations.
County officials also believe that residents experience localized street flooding near the intersection of Olde Towne Road an Wood Haven Road and the vicinity of 6700 West Wakefield Drive in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas. However, no structural flooding in the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas is anticipated based on the latest forecast. Staff from the county’s Public Works and Environmental Services, public safety and emergency management offices will continue to monitor the storm and provide updates if the forecast or anticipated conditions worsen.
- This Afternoon: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 81. Southeast wind 14 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
- Tonight: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds and heavy rain. Low around 62. Southeast wind 13 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible.
- Friday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 71. South wind 9 to 13 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.
- Friday Night: A chance of showers between 8pm and 2am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming partly cloudy, with a low around 48. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
- Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. West wind 7 to 13 mph.
Continue to monitor weather forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued. You should also sign up to receive weather alerts on your mobile device, as well as by email, from the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN). Sign up at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cean.
Posted at 9:45 a.m.
Today is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. Kristen Auerbach with our Animal Shelter says pets are part of our families and we need to make sure our pets are prepared for emergencies. In this video, she offers some great tips to make sure our pets are ready in case of an emergency.
Prepare your pets for emergencies. In an emergency, you may need to stay in your home, or perhaps you’ll have to leave. If you evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. Pets most likely cannot survive on their own. Plan now where your pet will stay if you have to evacuate: a friends’ or relative’s home, a pet-friendly hotel or motel, or a kennel or veterinarian’s office. Talk to your vet or local humane society about an emergency plan for your pet.
Ask Fairfax Online Chat at 11 a.m.
Staff from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and our Office of Emergency Management will be available online at 11 a.m. to answer all of your questions to help you protect your pets when the unexpected happens. Submit a question now or join in the “Ask Fairfax” online chat about pet preparedness.
There are five easy steps pet owners can take to drastically increase their pet’s resiliency to disasters:
- Build a pet emergency kit.
- ID your pet with a collar and tag or consider microchipping.
- Practice evacuating in the car or determine where to shelter-in-place with your pet.
- Create a buddy system with a relative or friend to help each other’s pets in case one of you is away from home during an emergency.
- Download a preparedness app.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to protect your pet during a disaster.
Posted at 1 p.m.
Volunteers from Volunteer Fairfax, RSVP-Northern Virginia (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program) and the AmeriCorps NCCC got together this past Saturday to help our emergency management office to get prepared for school.
STEP is an emergency preparedness education project developed by FEMA and the American Red Cross and in 2008 was piloted in six New England states. The program provides students strategies and information for dealing with various types of emergencies, and encourages the students to share this with family members.
If you would like additional information on the STEP program, contact Bruce McFarlane at 571-350-1016, TTY 711, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 9:30 a.m.
This Saturday, April 26, our Fire and Rescue Department is beginning a basic Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class at the LDS Church in Springfield. There is still plenty of room if you’d like to attend. The class will meet on four Saturdays and run each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; tentative class dates are April 26, May 3, May 10 and May 24.
Fire and Rescue also has added a new CERT Class at the Fire and Rescue Academy beginning Monday, May 5. This class will meet on every Monday from 7-10:30 p.m. (except for May 26) and will finish on June 23.
To sign up for either class, you first must register as a volunteer at www.fairfaxcert.com to receive registration information on the classes. If you have trouble registering, or have any questions, email email@example.com. Sign up now and get Certified!
CERT helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies happen, CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members also can help with non-emergency projects that help improve the preparedness and safety of the community.
For more information on CERT, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fr.