Hurricane Florence Update — What to Know in Advance of the Storm

Flood watch versus flood warning

Posted at 11:45 a.m.

Hurricane Florence continues its path toward the Atlantic coast. As with all hurricanes 1,000 miles away, forecasts can change, but as of this morning here’s the latest for Fairfax County:

  • 4-8 inches of rain beginning late Thursday into early Friday (though this prediction could increase or decrease); major winds should not be an issue.
  • Potential flooding over the weekend, especially as Florence is likely to stall over land and due to all the recent rain we’ve already received.
  • Rain and flooding impacts could last into early next week as flood waters from areas north and west of the county will move our way even after Florence passes. This is a potentially long-term flooding event for Fairfax County, so please pay attention to trusted sources for information.
    Hurricane Florence path (Sept 11, 2018)


One question we’ve heard quite a bit so far is “does Fairfax County provide sandbags?” Unfortunately, with over a million residents and thousands of businesses, Fairfax County simply cannot provide sandbags. We encourage residents to visit their local hardware store.

Here’s a tip from our public works staff: A simple sandbag can be made from those plastic grocery/store bags you already have at home. Simply fill them with sand or soil and you have a pretty effective sandbag.

Preparedness Actions

  • If possible to do so safely, clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts before the storm arrives.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery. Rain-saturated ground increases risk for falling trees. Consult a certified arborist if you need help.
  • If you have a sump pump, make sure it is working and that the outlet pipe is not blocked. If possible, install a battery-operated backup in case of a power failure.
  • Move important indoor items to the highest possible floor.
  • Check in on elderly neighbors or those with access and functional needs to see if they need any assistance to prepare for the storm.
  • See yesterday’s blog article with more preparedness steps.

Flood watch versus flood warningStorm Drains

With all this rain, storm drains may be affected. To report blocked drains during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), call 703-877-2800, TTY 711. 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.

Stay Weather Aware and Know the Terms

  • A Flood Watch means that a flood is possible in the area.
  • A Flood Warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon.
  • Get the most current forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Find updates on Hurricane Florence from the National Hurricane Center, as well as the hurricane center’s Facebook and Twitter.
  • Sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts; Receive alerts by email and text.

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About Fairfax County Emergency Information

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

2 responses to “Hurricane Florence Update — What to Know in Advance of the Storm”

  1. Greg Olsen says :

    This forecast is totally wrong and highly misleading. Stop with the hype and get your act together!

    1-2 inches max:

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