Posted at 8:30 a.m.
According to the National Weather Service, a combination of gusty winds, low relative humidity and low fuel moisture will enhance the threat for the spread of wildfires late this morning through this afternoon.
Residents are urged to exercise caution handling any potential ignition source, including machinery, cigarettes and matches. Be sure to properly discard all smoking materials. Any dry grasses and tree litter that ignite will have the potential to spread quickly.
Posted at 1 p.m.
It’s not too late to register for the 2018 Virginia Tornado Drill to be held at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20 — although registration is required by the end of the day today. (Registration is required by the state to be completed at least seven days prior to the drill.)
The drill is a yearly opportunity to prepare for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.
How to Participate
Just register for the tornado drill online. If you don’t get “officially” registered, you can still conduct your own tornado drill on March 20.
In recent years, 1 million Virginians have signed up for the drill.
If you need assistance or have questions, feel free to contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
How the Drill Works
At approximately 9:45 a.m. on March 20, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA Weather Radios. This test signal will sound a tone alert, show a test message or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.
To participate, start your own tornado drill when you hear the test signal over NOAA Weather Radio or broadcast media.
* If widespread severe weather threatens on March 20, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.
Tornado History in Virginia
- On Friday, March 31, 2017, two tornadoes touched down in the Hampton Roads region, including an EF-2 tornado with winds exceeding 120 mph. The tornado was on the ground for eight miles in the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake damaging more than 200 homes.
- Virginians felt the destructive force of tornadoes again on April 6 in Lancaster County, near Irvington, when an EF-1 tornado, producing winds in excess of 90 mph, touched down damaging 45 structures.
- A storm system passing through the Commonwealth on May 5 produced nine tornadoes throughout the state.
- In April and August, communities in Northern Virginia were impacted by several EF-0 tornadoes.
- Several EF-1 tornadoes impacted communities throughout Southwest Virginia in October.
These are just some of the highlights of tornado activity across the state in 2017, but they are a stark reminder that Virginians, in all regions of the commonwealth, must prepare for the possibility of tornadoes and other natural disasters.
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
Daylight Saving Time begins tomorrow morning, Sunday, March 11, at 2 a.m. Remember the old saying, “Spring forward, Fall back.”
Be sure to turn your clocks forward one hour before going to bed tonight — unless you like waking up at precisely 2 a.m. — so you won’t be running late all day Sunday.
Change Your Smoke Alarm Batteries and Check Your Emergency Supply Kits Too
For years, firefighters and safety professionals have asked us to change smoke alarm batteries throughout our homes twice a year, and the beginning (and end) of Daylight Saving Time is a great reminder to change those batteries as we change the time on our clocks ahead one hour.
And according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the March ritual of making homes safer from fire is also a great opportunity to review our disaster response plans and restock those emergency supply kits we have in our homes, vehicles and offices.
Now we’re not saying you have to change your batteries and restock your emergency kits at 2 a.m. tomorrow — but please use Daylight Saving Time as a trigger to help you remember to do these important life-safety tasks before the weekend is over.
Posted at 11:55 a.m.
It was a rough weekend across Fairfax County due to the dangerous, sustained winds that we had to deal with. We realize that the event isn’t over yet for the several thousand county residents without power this morning, or for those who have had their power restored but are dealing with downed trees, debris and other issues caused by the storm.
As we try to get our lives back to normal, here’s a quick look at six things you might need to be aware of today as you deal with the aftermath of the weekend’s wind storm.
1. Debris Pick up
- Debris clean-up is a shared responsibility between private property owners, waste haulers and Fairfax County. Information on disposing of yard debris is available here.
- Please use caution when driving near the trucks picking up debris and Slow Down to Get Around. Slow down to 10 mph below limit and provide two-foot berth around stopped collection vehicles. Watch this video.
- A reminder that you cannot burn debris and yard waste in our county – this is to prevent the spread of fire and to protect air quality.
2. Power Outages Continue
- There are still several thousand customers in the county without power today. If you have questions about your power outage, here is the contact information:
- The following county facilities continue to be without power and are closed:
- Parks and Rec – Due to power outages and trees down, Riverbend Park’s Visitor Center is closed but the park is open. Hidden Pond Nature Center is closed. Ellanor C. Lawrence Park and Visitor Center is closed due to the closure of Walney Road and lack of power. Burke Lake Park is open but the gates are closed to vehicles and there is no power. To report a downed tree in the parks, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/tree-removal
- Martha Washington Library remains closed today due to lack of power, but all other library branches have opened on time.
- If you need to have tree work done, please review this information about hiring contractors and avoiding “woodchuckers” scams.
4. Making Repairs
- If you have damage to your house, be sure to hire a licensed contractor. Tips on what to look for and working with your insurance company.
5. Food Safety
- If your power was out for an extended period you’ll want to assess whether the food in your refrigerator or freezer is still safe to consume.
6. Be Prepared for the Next Storm
- We don’t know when the next emergency or storm will impact us – it could be next week or years away. Make sure you are informed and get the latest emergency information, subscribe to Fairfax Alerts.
Posted at 9:35 a.m.
ecovery operations continue today from the damaging wind storm across the county and the region. As of 9 a.m. this morning, there were still over 33,000 power outages in Fairfax County, affecting some traffic signals, as well as county and school facilities.
County Facility Status
- Schools – Activities scheduled in Fairfax County public schools or on school grounds are canceled today, Sunday, March 4.
- Parks and Recreation – All Park Authority programs at Fairfax County Public School locations are canceled for Sunday, March 4.
- South Run RECEnter will open today at noon.
- Spring Hill RECenter remains closed due to power outages.
- The gates at Lake Accotink Park and Burke Lake Park are closed to vehicular traffic but the parks are open.
- Riverbend Park and Ellanor C Lawrence are both without power.
- Clemyjontri Park is open but bathrooms are closed.
- The Park Authority continues to evaluate other sites and we encourage you to call the facility before going. To report a downed tree in the parks, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/tree-removal.
- Libraries (Updated at 10:25 a.m) – The Chantilly Regional Library remains closed today due to a lack of power. All other regional library branches will open as scheduled at 1 p.m.
If you are without power, please report it.
- For Dominion Energy, call 1-866-366-4357 or report it online at www.dom.com/outage-center.
- For NOVEC, call 1-888-335-050 or report it online at www.novec.com/stormcenter.
Stay away from downed wires as they may be live with electricity.
Today it will be sunny with a high near 48. North winds 16 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Tonight, clear, with a low around 27. North winds around 14 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Then on Monday, it will be sunny with a high near 45. North winds 10 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. More on the forecast.