Posted at 12:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Fairfax County and portions of the National Capital Region for this afternoon and evening, with thunderstorms likely late this afternoon and evening. According to the outlook, a few of the thunderstorms may become severe with a threat of damaging wind gusts, large hail and an isolated tornado.
Our Office of Emergency Management has been in contact with the local National Weather Service office, which predicts the severe weather will move into our area between 4-6 p.m.
New Severe Thunderstorm Risk Categories
To help us better understand thunderstorms — like today’s risk — the Storm Prediction Center has worked closely with National Weather Service (NWS) offices, social scientists, communication specialists, FEMA, forecasters and the general public, to arrive at a new five-category description of severe thunderstorm risks.
Learn more about severe weather at www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/about.html#Severe.
In addition, remember to sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts, which can be sent to multiple email accounts as well as your cellphone(s).
Posted at 12:45 p.m.
Get ready for an exciting conversation on emergency preparedness for the entire family, presented by four women who have one title in common — mom.
These moms are well-known bloggers who will offer tips, actions and insights on how to get your family prepared for disasters. In addition, many of the preparedness actions discussed during the webinar will also qualify for participation in America’s PrepareAthon! (which, just like mom, wants you to be safe in case of an emergency).
Join the conversation on Thursday, April 16, at 2 p.m.
The webinar, “Easy Ways to Help Prepare Your Family for Disasters,” will feature preparedness information from:
- Shelle Wells, blogger for Preparedness Mama.
- Erica Mueller, blogger for Mom Prepares.
- Tanya Ferraro, blogger for Bigger than Myself.
- Shelly Lopez-Gray, blogger for Adventures of a Labor Nurse.
Register at http://bit.ly/1DuOd38. This webinar will offer closed captioning.
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.
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.
Posted at 9:45 a.m.
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.
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.
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.
Posted at 5:05 p.m.
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.
Posted at 4 p.m.
If you’re out shoveling snow, please take some time to clear fire hydrants.
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.
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!