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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.

Flood Watch Issued from 2 p.m. Today Through Friday

Posted at 9:45 a.m.

Flood Watch

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch in effect from 2 p.m. this afternoon through Friday evening for the potential for flooding from heavy rain. Localized areas of flooding of small streams and urban areas are possible today and tonight.

A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

From 2 p.m. this afternoon through Friday evening, periods of rain will continue across the region. This rain will be heavy at times, with overall additional rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches. While flash flooding cannot be ruled out, the primary concern is flooding of small streams and low-lying areas. Streams are already elevated and soils saturated from earlier rainfall, increasing the flood threat.

Turn Around Don’t Drown

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 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock over and carry off an adult.
  • 12 inches of water can float a small car. If that water is moving, it can carry that car away.
  • 18 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.

Flood Warning Issued for Fairfax City and Central Fairfax County

Posted at 9:10 a.m.

Flood Warning

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Flood Warning for the City of Fairfax and Central Fairfax County until 12:30 p.m.

NWS reports some locations that will experience flooding include Reston, Annandale, Springfield, Fairfax, Vienna, Falls Church, Mantua, Pimmit Hills, Woodbridge, Lake Ridge, Burke, Oakton, Tysons Corner, Montclair, Lorton, Wolf Trap and Great Falls.

Remember… turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

Get more details on the weather forecast.

Flood Warning Issued Until 5:15 p.m.

Posted at 12:30 p.m.

Flood Warning

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning, in effect until 5:15 p.m., for the City of Fairfax and the central portion of Fairfax County.

Measured rain between 1 to 1.5 inches has been observed, with continuing rain expected of an additional .5 to .75 inches this afternoon into this evening. Showers and a thunderstorm also are possible later this evening up until 11 p.m., with intermittent showers overnight. (More on the forecast here.)

There are several roads in the county that have been impacted by flood waters. If you come across roads covered in water, please turn around, don`t drown. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

At this time county officials do not anticipate any issues in the Huntington area.

Emergency management, public safety and public works staff will continue to monitor the storm and weather throughout the day and additional updates will be issued as needed. If you aren’t yet sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts, you may want to do that now.

Spring Flooding Safety Tips

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.

You can learn more about the dangers of flooding and find information about flood insurance at www.Ready.gov/floods and www.Floodsmart.gov.

the cost of flood insurance versus flood damage

Reprinted from FEMA’s Ready campaign