Posted at 1:30 p.m.
We’re sure you’ve heard by now that a solar eclipse will be visible across the continental U.S. on Monday, Aug. 21.
The eclipse, when the moon will completely cover the sun, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C. Although Fairfax County is not in the path of the total eclipse, we will be treated to a partial solar eclipse. Our maximum eclipse will be at 2:42 p.m. when the sun will be about 80 percent covered, although some of the eclipse will be visible from 1:17 pm to 4:01 p.m.
Rita Peralta is with the Fairfax County Park Authority, which is hosting several eclipse programs. She says that if you are planning to view the solar eclipse safely, you should wear eclipse glasses and solar viewers that meet the international safety standard.
Wear Proper Eyewear
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) “Individual and Community Preparedness” eBrief e-newsletter (Aug. 17 edition), you should consider products marked with ISO 12312-2, which means they meet the international safety standard.
Other Safety Tips
- Use new glasses or viewers.
- Do not use glasses more than three years old, wrinkled or scratched.
- Do not use homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device – even when using your eclipse glasses or viewer. Those optical devices concentrate the solar rays, which will damage your eclipse glasses or viewer, and seriously injure your eyes.
You can also watch the solar eclipse live on a NASA webpage. You’ll get to see a wealth of images captured before, during and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station – each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event.
Early-season storms one indicator of active Atlantic hurricane season ahead
Posted at 10:30 a.m.
On Aug. 9, NOAA — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — issued an update to its 2017 hurricane season outlook. Forecasters are now predicting a higher likelihood of an above-normal season, and they increased the predicted number of named storms and major hurricanes. The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010.
Forecasters now say there is a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season (compared to the May prediction of 45 percent chance), with 14-19 named storms (increased from the May predicted range of 11-17) and 2-5 major hurricanes (increased from the May predicted range of 2-4). A prediction for 5-9 hurricanes remains unchanged from the initial May outlook.
“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season.”
Bell noted other factors that point to an above-normal season include warmer waters across the tropical Atlantic than models previously predicted and higher predicted activity from available models.
While hurricanes typically don’t strike Fairfax County directly, we often feel the effects of these storms with high winds and heavy rainfall, which can lead to localized flooding.
Make sure you stay ready by keeping your emergency supply kit up-to-date ~ watch a video from our emergency management office on what types of items should go in your emergency kit. Also, be sure you are signed up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts, delivered by text to your smartphone as well as by email.
2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season
In just the first nine weeks of this season there have been six named storms, which is half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms that would typically form by early August. An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1-Nov. 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
Two of these storms, Cindy and Emily, struck the United States. Cindy made landfall on June 22 at the Louisiana-Texas border and caused heavy rain, inland flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks. Emily made landfall on July 31 in Anna Maria Island, Fla.
The update also decreases the chance of a near-normal season from 35 percent to 30 percent, and a below-normal season from 20 percent to only 10 percent from the initial outlook issued in May.
Posted at 9 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch, in effect from 9 a.m. through this evening.
A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.
Multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms are expected today with localized heavy rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour possible.
Runoff from excessive rainfall may cause rapid rises of water in low-lying and poor drainage areas as well as streams and creeks, resulting in flash flooding. Urban areas will be most susceptible.
You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.
Live Weather Radar
Posted at 5:10 p.m.
As summer starts to wind down you are probably getting ready to send your kids back to school. And to help with that back-to-school preparation, Virginia is hosting a sales tax holiday this weekend (Aug. 4-6). Supplies from pencils and binders to shoes, clothes and backpacks are all tax free.
But did you know that hurricane preparedness and emergency preparedness supplies are also included in the sales tax holiday.
Don’t forget to stock up this weekend on important emergency supplies like flashlights, batteries, weather radios, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and even first-aid kits. All these items up to $60 are tax-free. Even portable generators up to $1,000 and gas powered chainsaws up to $350 are all tax-free during the sales tax holiday, Aug. 4-6.
In this video, Courtney Arroyo from our Office of Emergency Management, discusses the sales tax holiday.
Spanish language video with Grelia Steele, Office of Emergency Management.
For more information, visit www.tax.virginia.gov/virginia-sales-tax-holiday.
Stock Up on Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Items and Save Money
Posted at 11 a.m.
Virginia’s Sales Tax Holiday is this weekend, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 4-6.
During the sales tax holiday, you can buy qualifying hurricane and emergency preparedness items (PDF), as well as school supplies, clothing, footwear and Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products without paying sales tax.
What items are eligible?
- Hurricane and emergency preparedness products
- Portable generators – $1,000 or less per item
- Gas-powered chainsaws – $350 or less per item
- Chainsaw accessories – $60 or less per item
- Other specified hurricane preparedness items – $60 or less per item
- School supplies, clothing, and footwear
- Qualified school supplies – $20 or less per item
- Qualified clothing and footwear – $100 or less per item
- Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products
- Qualifying Energy Star™ or WaterSense™ products purchased for noncommercial home or personal use – $2,500 or less per item