Posted at 1:30 p.m.
When spring hits, whether it’s “official” — the first day of Spring is Monday, March 20 — or just feels like spring, many of us are eager to get out of the office and into the fresh air.
And while spring brings warmer temperatures, it also can bring heavy rain. But until the ground thaws, melting snow — which we haven’t had a lot of this winter — and rain cannot be absorbed into the earth. Spring storms can bring several inches of precipitation in just hours or can stall out over an area for days. These heavy rains can lead to severe flooding by oversaturating the ground, overfilling storm drains or causing rivers or lakes to spill over their banks or levees.
Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States.
Here are some things to keep in mind as the spring flood season draws near.
- Never drive or walk through flooded streets. It only takes six inches of moving water to sweep a person off their feet (and not in the romantic way) and 12 inches to move a car. Remember, if a street is flooded, Turn Around; Don’t Drown.
- Floods are expensive. A few inches of water in a 1,000-square foot home could cost more than $10,000 in repairs and replacement of personal possessions.
- Most insurance does not cover flood damage. Only flood insurance will cover the damage from floods. Speak with your insurance agent to learn more and remember flood insurance takes 30 days to take effect, so purchase now to protect your family.
- Talk with your family and make an emergency plan for you and your pets. No matter the disaster, it’s always a good idea to have emergency supplies ready at home, at work, and in the car.
Reprinted from FEMA’s Ready campaign
Posted at 6:50 a.m.
Overnight rain continues this morning, making for a messy commute. The National Weather Service has also issued a flood warning until 10:45 a.m.
If you’re on the road this morning, please take a few extra minutes and drive with caution. Roads are wet — so slow down.
Before 5 a.m. this morning, law enforcement reported several roads affected by water. Here’s what we know about right now:
- Chantilly: Multiple vehicle accident is blocking Route 28 northbound prior to Willard Road.
- Fairfax Station: Burke Lake Road is closed at Jeremiah Court due to flooding.
If you encounter closed roads or roads affected by high water, do not attempt to drive through. Turn around and find an alternate route. And if possible, report any road issues to our non-emergency telephone number, 703-691-2131.
Today’s forecast calls for rain showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 8 a.m. Get more details on the weather forecast online, and be sure to sign up for Fairfax Alerts for severe weather alerts.
Posted at 2 p.m.
As standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have insurance for flood damage.
If you live in an area prone to flooding, be sure to take advantage of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Visit www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart for more details, including your flood risk based on address, estimate premiums and more. Also, you can find information and resources covering the different types of property insurance at www.usa.gov/property-insurance.
Posted at 2:30 p.m.
Flooding is the most prevalent natural disaster in Virginia.
Just a few inches of water inside an average house can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, and yet a flood insurance policy can cost just over $100 a year for those living in a low- to moderate-risk area.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) will host its first Twitter chat to discuss flood insurance in Virginia. Emergency management officials will be joined by the Virginia State Corporation Commission and National Flood Insurance Program representatives to answer questions on this topic.
Make plans to join the conversation using the hashtag #GetReadyVA on Thursday, June 30, from 2-3 p.m. (EDT).
To find your official flood map, access a range of other flood hazard products and take advantage of tools for better understanding flood risk, visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, the official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Posted at 10 a.m.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has advised county officials that we can likely expect severe thunderstorms and weather this weekend — most likely in the afternoon and evening hours.
According to the NWS forecast, the county is likely to receive ½ inch to ¾ inch of rain within a one hour period and 2 to 3 inches in a six hour period.
NWS also notes that it is possible, especially on Sunday, that we could receive a maximum rainfall of 2½ inches in a one hour period and 4 inches in a six hour period in localized areas. These higher rainfall totals are expected to be localized and associated with small thunderstorm cells.
We can also expect tidal anomalies of about 1 foot to 1½ foot higher than normal.
Residents in areas prone to street flooding may want to take precautions and move vehicles to higher elevations. Don’t park in restricted areas and try to avoid parking under trees when possible.
Move any valuables from the basement, especially if your basement has flooded before.
With all high-intensity rainfall, street flooding is possible. If there is any possibility of a flash flood:
- Move immediately to higher ground.
- Do not wait for instructions to move.
- Be aware of streams, drainage channels and other areas known to flood suddenly.
- Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
And please remember to keep children away from creeks and their potentially rapidly rising waters.
You also may want to check storm drains and gutters to ensure that they are not clogged. Blocked stormdrains prevent the flow of rain from reaching streams and stormwater detention ponds. The water then backs up into streets and yards and may flood basements. Blocked stormdrains also may damage residential and commercial property and cause traffic delays.
Keep the openings of storm drains clear of debris to help alleviate potential flooding and to protect the environment. At no time, however, should you attempt to enter a storm drain to remove debris.
Property owners are responsible for driveway culverts and bridges that are part of the driveway structure and are not public storm drainage system structures. Storm drains outside rights-of-way and easements are privately maintained by the property owner.
To report a blocked storm drain, call Fairfax County Stormwater Management, 703-877-2800, TTY 711, or the Virginia Department of Transportation at 703-383-8368, TTY 711.
Public safety, public works and emergency management staff will continue to monitor the storm throughout the weekend, along with conditions on the ground, and will send emergency alerts if the situation changes. You can sign up for these alerts, along with severe weather alerts, from Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
The complete forecast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/weather-forecast.htm.
Flooding FAQ’s – www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/navbar/faqs/flooding.htm