Prepare Now for Impacts from Hurricane Florence

Posted at 1:15 p.m.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Florence may impact our area later in the week. The storm is currently a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Further strengthening is anticipated, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.

On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday.

Hurricane Florence

Preparedness Action To Take Today

We don’t know yet what impact Florence will have on our region, but we are likely to continue to see a lot more rain. Here’s a few things you can do now to prepare.

  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and that water flows away from your home.
  • If you live in an area prone to flooding or have had flooding in the past, take precautions to move valuables from the basement; at least move items off the floor onto higher shelves if possible.
  • Check your emergency supply kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Be sure to you have extra batteries and flashlights in case you lose electricity.
  • Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA weather radio. Find an online NOAA radio station or download the NOAA radio app for your smartphone (Apple Store | Google Play).
  • Review your family’s emergency plan. Does your family know what to do or where to go in case of an emergency or localized flooding? And be sure you know what to do with pets.
  • Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank in case you need to evacuate your home or seek shelter elsewhere.
  • Sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts. You can receive these alerts by email and text.

And finally, local creeks and streams are already rising and many reaching capacity. Do not let children play in or near streams or creeks do to the potentially rapidly rising waters.

Hazardous Weather This Week

The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for the potential of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening that could lead to locally heavy rainfall with the potential of flash flooding. This hazardous weather outlook continues Tuesday through Sunday with minor to perhaps moderate flooding expected along the Potomac River Basin on Tuesday.

A Flood Warning also has been issued for the Potomac River at Little Falls, from overnight tonight until Wednesday afternoon. The forecast predicts a rise above flood stage by overnight tonight and crest near 11.0 feet by early tomorrow evening. The river is expected to fall below flood stage by late Wednesday morning.

Never Drive Through Flooded Roadways

Flooding is one of the leading causes of weather related fatalities in the U.S. On average, flooding claims nearly 90 lives each year.  More than half of these deaths occur in motor vehicles when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways. This happens because people underestimate the force and power of water, especially when it is moving.

Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock over and carry off an adult. Twelve inches of water can float a small car. If that water is moving, it can carry that car away. Eighteen to 24 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.

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About Fairfax County Emergency Information

Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.

14 responses to “Prepare Now for Impacts from Hurricane Florence”

  1. Claire Davis says :

    Question haven’t seen information on yet….. what is the current estimated width of Hurricane Florence?

  2. Anonymous says :

    Have you heard about this storm? Even schools in Virginia aren’t talking about the storm. Me and my family are preparing for the worst of the worst, I am extremely worried…

  3. Kopa says :

    Could you please post a list of emergency shelters that accept pets? There are zero resources yet every local news network (including this post) mentions that pet owners should find a shelter that accepts pets. What shelters? Where are they located? How about a list or something that pet owners can reference? Very frustrating!

    • Fairfax County Emergency Information says :

      For any shelter that the county opens we do have the ability to accept pets. These pets will either be housed onsite or taken to our county animal shelter depending on the site being used for this event. In either case the pets will be housed separately from the general shelter population. It’s hard to publicly announce shelter locations ahead of a storm given the track of a storm, power outages that could affect pre-identified locations, roads in the area being unusable, etc. Rest assured the county has numerous locations pre-identified and staff already assigned, and we will publicize those locations closer to the storm’s arrival once we have verified the shelter location is usable, has power, is accessible, etc.

  4. Janie S Daum says :

    We live near Tysons and border Wolftrap Creek, which is not well maintained by the county, the 100 year storm drain is 1/2 closed due to dirt and sand washing into the creek over the years.. We have been here 32 years with no issues but Florence is the biggest storm heading our way, I worry about flooding. Is there a place to get sand bags? I know Falls Church has them but does Tysons/Vienna? We have 8 rescue cats, don’t have carriers for all of them and don’t know where a shelter is that will even allow pets in a carriers. We are in our late 60’s with some medical issues, that are worrisome if we lose power. We could use some answers ASAP

    • Anonymous says :

      A quick Google search brought up
      https://www.awla.org/services/disaster-preparedness/

      Animal Welfare League of Arlington will set up a trailer if needed in an emergency.

    • Fairfax County Emergency Information says :

      Thanks for your comment and questions. And we understand the concern. County staff are already preparing and monitoring the storm. Regarding the storm drain, if you will call 703-877-2800, TTY 711 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) you can report your concern. For after-hours storm flooding emergencies that are not life-threatening, call 703-323-1211, TTY 703-239-8498, and state that you are reporting a storm sewer emergency; this number is staffed 24 hours a day. For sanitary sewer flooding, call 703-323-1211, TTY 703-239-8498.

      Fairfax County does not provide sandbags to residents and businesses. We encourage residents to visit their local hardware store for those. A quick tip from our public works staff — those plastic grocery/store bags you have at home can easily be filled up with sand or soil and make an inexpensive sand bag.

      Regarding your rescue cats, we get the question regularly about the location of shelters. It’s hard to publicly announce shelter locations ahead of a storm given the track of a storm, power outages that could affect pre-identified locations, roads in the area being unusable, etc. Rest assured the county has numerous locations pre-identified and staff already assigned, and we will publicize those locations closer to the storms arrival once we have verified the shelter location is usable, has power, is accessible, etc. We do try to provide shelters that accept pets but if they cannot be housed at that shelter site, we work with our Animal Control officers and animal shelter to provide temporary emergency housing assistance at the animal shelter.

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