Don’t Forget This Morning’s Tornado Drill at 9:45 a.m.

Statewide Tornado Drill

Posted at 8:30 a.m.

Today is the day for the annual statewide tornado drill. It happens at 9:45 a.m. We hope you’ve registered, although it isn’t necessary to do so in order to participate in the drill.

This morning’s drill begins with the National Weather Service (NWS) sending a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasts via the Emergency Alert System, simulating what you would hear during an actual tornado warning. Fairfax Alerts will also send an alert to begin the drill. (If you haven’t yet registered for Fairfax Alerts, it doesn’t take long — go ahead and sign up now.)

When the test tornado warning sounds or when you receive your Fairfax Alert message, you should move as quickly as possible to a safe area in a sturdy building. Safe areas are basements and interior rooms on the lowest level of a building such as bathrooms, closets or hallways. Once in the safe area, crouch down or sit on the floor facing down and cover your head with your hands. Also be sure to stay away from windows.

Twelve tornadoes impacted Virginia in 2014, causing numerous injuries and more than $700,000 in property damage. Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning, and you need to know the drill. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives.

For more information about tornado safety and to register for this morning’s statewide tornado drill, go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov.

 

Emergency Preparedness: Don’t Leave it to Luck

Posted at 9:15 a.m.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day — a time to wear green and celebrate.

But as Whitney Kazragis from our emergency management office demonstrates, St. Patrick’s Day can also be a great time to save some “green” while getting better prepared for any type of emergency — and without having to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Learn more about emergency preparedness; and be sure to sign up for emergency alerts for your inbox and cellphone from Fairfax Alerts.

Plan to Participate in the March 17 Statewide Tornado Drill

Posted at 9:45 a.m.

2015 Tornado Drill

Tornadoes can happen anywhere and at any time of year, making preparedness for these potentially deadly storms even more important. For example, Fairfax County had a couple of tornado watches and tornado warnings in 2014.

To be better prepared, businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals can practice taking cover from tornadoes by participating in the annual Statewide Tornado Drill Tuesday, March 17, at 9:45 a.m.

Registration for the tornado drill is not necessary, but you can learn more and show your support by signing up at www.ReadyVirginia.gov.

The annual drill is a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service (NWS).

To start the tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. on March 17, the NWS will send a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasts, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning.

“Receiving a tornado warning as quickly as possible can make the difference between life and death,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “One of the fastest ways for people to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio, which provides warning information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. However, cellphone apps such as Ready Virginia are also available that quickly provide critical warning information at little or no cost. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) also provide tornado and flash flood warnings via text message to any compatible cell within the warning area, even if you are visiting or just traveling through an affected area.”

For help in conducting a tornado drill and to register for next week’s statewide drill, go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov.

Issue with Emergency Alerts Being Addressed

Posted 12:15 p.m.

A limited number of Fairfax Alerts subscribers received numerous duplicate text messages this morning due to human error.  We apologize for the inconvenience and frustration this caused.  Your patience is appreciated as the Office of Emergency Management is taking steps to make sure that the duplicate messages stop as soon as possible.  Steps are also being taken to ensure this does not happen again. We encourage you to continue to subscribe to Fairfax Alerts to receive important emergency information.

Trash and Recycling Collection for Fairfax County Customers Suspended Today

Posted at 8:14 a.m.

Due to unsafe road conditions, Fairfax County trash and recycling collection in sanitary districts (15 percent of county households) on Thursday and Friday collection routes have been suspended for today, Friday, March 6.

Thursday and Friday collection customers will receive trash and recycling collection on Saturday, March 7, weather and road conditions permitting. Please make sure trash and recycling carts are accessible and not blocked in by snow to ensure collection.

You can check the trash/recycling county customer website for updated service information.

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 at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/trash/disphaulers.htm.

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.

Government Offices Open 10 a.m. Friday, March 6

Posted at 5:18 a.m.; Updated at 5:51 a.m.

County and School Status

  • Fairfax County Government offices will open at 10 a.m. today, Friday, March 6. Employees have been granted unscheduled leave. Emergency service personnel should report as scheduled.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools are closed today, Friday, March 6. School Age Child Care (SACC) centers are 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 fairfaxcounty.gov/parks.
  • All Department of Neighborhood and Community Services community, senior and teen centers are closed today. 
  • The Reston Community Center and the McLean Community Center may be affected by the inclement weather. Call RCC at 703-476-4500, TTY 711, 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 fairfaxconnector.com for the current operating status.
  • For information about FASTRAN, call 703-222-9764, TTY 711, or online at fairfaxcounty.gov/ncs/fastran.htm.

 Libraries

  • Fairfax County Public Libraries are closed today

View the public meetings calendar for any potential cancellations of public meetings of Fairfax County government Boards, Authorities or Commissions.

Emergency information is available on Fairfax County’s website (www.fairfaxcounty.gov), Facebook (www.facebook.com/fairfaxcounty), Twitter (www.twitter.com/fairfaxcounty), Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts or by calling the Fairfax County Emergency Information Hotline at 703-817-7771, TTY 711. Fairfax County Government Radio (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/radio) will announce county government closing status and also broadcasts weather forecasts several times per hour.

Winter weather preparedness information can be found online at >www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/prepare/winter.

VDOT Says Roads Treacherous; Numerous Accidents Reported

Posted at 5:05 p.m.

Truck Accident

Police are receiving numerous accident reports as road conditions worsen.

Road conditions remain treacherous around the region this afternoon and there are multiple road closures throughout the county. Fairfax County 9-1-1 has received calls from drivers asking about abandoning their vehicles. These vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. If you can safely move your vehicle out of travel lanes you can call a tow truck to get the vehicle home; any vehicle left for more than 12 hours or deemed a road hazard by the police will be towed.

Abandoned vehicles may also contribute to accidents and the owner will be ticketed in this event. Exiting your vehicle puts you and other drivers in danger. If your vehicle is stuck and you are in danger, call 9-1-1, but otherwise you should have it towed.

Please remain off the roads if possible. Visibility is limited, temperatures are dropping and conditions are further deteriorating.

More than 3,800 trucks continue to plow roads in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties according to VDOT. Staying off the roads allows crews to work safely. Crews are spreading salt and abrasives, as appropriate, concentrating their response efforts on the most heavily traveled routes. VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a storm ends. This storm; however, may deliver a second punch as temperatures drop to record levels and icy conditions remain likely into Friday.

Help Keep Fire Hydrants Clear of Snow

Posted at 4 p.m.

If you’re out shoveling snow, please take some time to clear fire hydrants.

clear fire hydrants of snowThe 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.

Seconds count if a fire breaks out, so a cleared fire hydrant will make a significant difference. Clear a three-foot radius around hydrants. There’s a lot of snow, so it may be tempting to move snow from around your car or sidewalk to any open space, but please keep hydrants clear. Our firefighters thank you in advance!

Video: Please Stay Off the Roads

Posted at 3:30 p.m.

Dave McKernan, emergency management coordinator, is urging residents to stay off roads this afternoon. According to McKernan, there are significant road hazards as a result of the weather.

Our emergency operations center is monitoring numerous accidents and impassable roads due to icy conditions.

Shovel Smart: Tips for Removing Snow Safely and Without Injury

snow shovel

Posted at 1 p.m.

Several inches of snow have fallen throughout areas of the county and the storm isn’t done with us yet! Today’s snow is falling heavy and wet, so we ask that you take care while removing snow to avoid strain and injury.

Shoveling snow can by physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains, but even more serious heart attacks. Please follow these safety tips when you go out in today’s wintry weather:

  1. 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.
  2. If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s okay.
  3. Shovel small amounts of snow at a time.
  4. Push the snow instead of lifting where possible. If you have a driveway, move snow to the opposite side of where a plow will push.
  5. Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
  6. Avoid shoveling under snow and ice covered trees and roof lines due to possible falling limbs, ice and snow.
  7. Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40.
  8. Dress in layers and wear warm clothing.

More in this short video:

As for sidewalks, 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 for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly and children.

Check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities

Video: Stay Off Area Roads

Posted at 11:40 a.m.

Deputy County Executive for Public Safety Dave Rohrer encourages you to stay off county (and area) roads if you don’t have to be out. He says roads are becoming more dangerous and he witnessed multiple cars slipping, skidding and unable to maintain traction.

If you don’t have to drive — don’t!

Trash and Recycling Collection for Fairfax County Customers Suspended Today

Posted at 9:05 a.m.

Due to unsafe road conditions, Fairfax County trash and recycling collection in sanitary districts (15 percent of county households) on Thursday collection routes has been suspended for today, March 5.

Thursday collection customers will receive trash and recycling collection on Friday, March 6, weather and road conditions permitting. Please make sure trash and recycling carts are accessible and not blocked in by snow to ensure collection.

You can check the trash/recycling county customer website for updated service information.

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 at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/trash/disphaulers.htm.

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.

Police Accident Policy Now in Effect

Posted 7:35 a.m.

The Police Department’s accident policy is now in effect, meaning that if you are involved in a minor fender-bender, with NO injuries and NOT blocking the roadway, please move off of the roadway, exchange relevant information regarding driver’s license, vehicle registration information and automobile insurance coverage.

While under the accident policy, our Police Department will only be responding to accident reports that meet the following criteria:

  • Injuries.
  • Hit and run.
  • One or more vehicles are not drivable.
  • Active argument or conflict between the drivers.

If you call in a routine accident (703-691-2131, TTY 711) that does not meet the above criteria, you will be directed to exchange information with the other driver and to notify your insurance company.

If you do need to drive, have emergency supplies in your vehicle, including water, food, blankets, flashlight, charged smartphone and extra batteries at a minimum.

Government Offices and Courts Closed Thursday, March 5

Posted at 5:10 a.m.

County and School Status

  • Fairfax County Government offices are closed today, Thursday, March 5 and employees are granted emergency administrative leave. Emergency service personnel should report as scheduled.
  • The Fairfax County Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court also are closed today.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools are closed today, March 5. School Age Child Care (SACC) centers are closed.

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 fairfaxcounty.gov/parks.
  • For Department of Neighborhood and Community Services programs and events visit 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, 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 fairfaxconnector.com for the current operating status.
  • For information about FASTRAN, call 703-222-9764, TTY 711, or online at fairfaxcounty.gov/ncs/fastran.htm.

View the public meetings calendar for any potential cancellations of public meetings of Fairfax County government Boards, Authorities or Commissions.

Emergency information is available on Fairfax County’s website (www.fairfaxcounty.gov), Facebook (www.facebook.com/fairfaxcounty), Twitter (www.twitter.com/fairfaxcounty), Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts or by calling the Fairfax County Emergency Information Hotline at 703-817-7771, TTY 711. Fairfax County Government Radio (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/radio) will announce county government closing status and also broadcasts weather forecasts several times per hour.

Winter weather preparedness information can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/prepare/winter.

Winter Storm Warning Issued for Fairfax County and Region

Posted at 3 p.m.

Apparently Old Man Winter isn’t ready to retire. It seems that he has more winter weather in store for us!

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning from midnight tonight until 9 pm. tomorrow, Thursday, March 5. A winter storm warning for heavy snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Significant amounts of snow are forecast that will make travel dangerous. Roads will become snow covered and visibilities will drop to around a quarter-mile at times making travel dangerous.

Winter Storm Warning March 4, 2015

Traveling

With this forecast, you are reminded to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reports that by midnight, more than 3,800 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets. With the storm expected to begin as rain, however, crews will not pre-treat for this storm. They will treat roads with salt and sand during sleet and freezing rain, and begin to plow as the storm transitions to accumulating snow.

“We’re asking drivers to prepare now for a long couple of days,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s district maintenance engineer for Northern Virginia. “It will be vital to stay off the roads tomorrow, as conditions will be treacherous during the storm. Crews will also need that room to clear snow quickly during the day, because frigid temperatures overnight and through the weekend will mean repeated refreeze of any accumulation left on the road.”

Forecast

snowflake-icon Tonight: Occasional rain before 2 a.m., then rain and sleet between 2-5 a.m., then rain, snow, and sleet after 5 a.m. Low around 27. North wind 7 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

snowflake-icon Thursday: Snow and sleet, becoming all snow after 8 a.m. Temperature falling to around 19 by 1 p.m. North wind 10 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New snow and sleet accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.

snowflake-icon Thursday Night: Snow likely, mainly before 7 p.m. Cloudy during the early evening, then gradual clearing, with a low around 9. Wind chill values as low as -3. North wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

weather forecast

What You Can Do

  • You are encouraged to stay off roads throughout the day tomorrow to provide crews as much room as possible to plow and treat roads.
  • You should park vehicles in driveways or on the odd-numbered side of the street to allow plows room to pass.
  • And when shoveling snow, remember to shovel snow to the right of your driveway as you face the road. This prevents snow from piling up when your street is plowed or re-plowed.

More information on preparing for this winter storm can be found on our website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/living/winter and www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards/winter-storm-snow-cold.htm.

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