Posted at 1:30 p.m.
nvironmental health specialists from Fairfax County are among those being deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with the long-term recovery efforts from hurricanes Irma and Maria. The group includes five environmental health specialists, including one who is also a registered nurse. They will assist with identifying, monitoring, assessing and mitigating environmental health hazards.
Virginia will send two Environmental Health strike teams this weekend. They are expected to depart for the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix on Feb. 11 and return on Feb. 27.
Fairfax County Team Members
St. Thomas/St. John District Team
- John Yetman, environmental health supervisor
- Lois Maisel, environmental health specialist
- Ebonie Miller, environmental health specialist
St. Croix District Team
- Isaac Robertson, environmental health specialist
- Ron Campbell, environmental health specialist
“We are excited and honored to be able to provide assistance to areas affected by those devastating storms,” said Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, Fairfax Health Director. “I want to thank the members of our team for their compassionate service. I know they will provide to the residents and visitors of the U.S. Virgin Islands the same professionalism and high quality service to which the citizens of the Fairfax have come to expect.”
The teams, deployed through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), also include specialists from Virginia Department of Health and Henrico, Roanoke, Three Rivers and Alexandria health districts.
The deployment is in response to an EMAC request — an all-hazards mutual aid agreement between all U.S. states and territories to provide response and recovery resources and support to each other during emergencies or disasters — from the Virgin Islands. Once the mission has been completed and the resources return, the expenses for this deployment will be reimbursed to the county by the Commonwealth of Virginia (through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management), which will seek its reimbursement from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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 11 a.m.
This week (May 7-13) is National Hurricane Preparedness Week.
Hurricanes are one of nature’s most powerful and destructive events and the cause behind eight of the 10 costliest disasters in U.S. history. Hurricanes are not just a coastal concern. High winds, heavy rainfall, tornadoes and flooding can be felt hundreds of miles inland, potentially causing loss of life and catastrophic damage to property.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Now is the time to prepare.
- Make a family emergency communication plan.
- Be sure to include your pets in your emergency preparedness planning.
- Identify an out of town emergency contact to coordinate information with family and friends.
- Keep an emergency kit where you spend time — home, car and work.
- Practice your preparedness plans with a drill or exercise.
Visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes for more information about hurricane preparedness. For the current National Hurricane Center map of active Atlantic cyclones and tropical disturbances, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov/cyclones/?atlc.
Posted at 3:40 p.m.
There has been a significant change in the forecasted track of Hurricane Matthew — and that’s good news for us!
A ridge over the eastern part of the country and a storm coming across the Midwest should push Hurricane Matthew to the southeast of the Mid-Atlantic region. The current forecast has some rain and wind over the area Friday night into Saturday but this is not related to Hurricane Matthew. The storm is still a few days away so the forecast could change again, but the weather models are now starting to converge on this being a low likelihood of any major impact for the region.
Overview and Impacts:
- Hurricane Matthew was positioned just north of Cuba this morning. The official track from the National Hurricane Center has Hurricane Matthew moving northwest to the Florida coast by Friday morning. Matthew is then expected to move north-northeastward and near the Carolina coastlines by Saturday night.
- The latest forecast guidance has Hurricane Matthew moving northeast and then east from the Carolina coastline Saturday night into Sunday night. This keeps the track of Matthew south of the Mid-Atlantic and direct impacts from Hurricane Matthew are no longer expected.
- Showers are expected as early as Friday ahead of a cold front. Locally heavy rainfall is possible along and near the Blue Ridge mountains however flooding is not expected at this time. Showers will continue through Saturday when the cold front crosses the region.
Watch the track with the National Hurricane Center’s interactive tracking map.
Our emergency management office will continue to monitor the storm. For updates, follow this blog and be sure to sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts.
Posted at 11:45 a.m.
While Hurricane Matthew is still approximately 7 days away from potentially impacting the Mid-Atlantic region, time will move quickly, especially if the storm continues north on its current track (shown below).
This update is designed to raise awareness for both businesses with large scale/complex responsibilities (major construction projects, major outdoor events, etc.) and residents of the storm’s potential arrival timing.
Overview and Impacts:
- Hurricane Matthew is currently positioned over western Haiti. The official track from the National Hurricane Center tracks this system across the Bahamas and towards Florida by Thursday night. Matthew is then expected to move north-northeastward and near the Carolina coastlines by Saturday night.
- The latest forecast guidance has shifted the track of Hurricane Matthew further west and the potential exists for the Mid-Atlantic region to see impacts as early as Saturday.
- A track into the Mid-Atlantic would bring the threats of tropical storm force winds, freshwater flooding and coastal flooding to the region.
- Confidence remains low on the exact track as well as the timing of when the system may potentially impact the area.
Take time now to review your organization’s commitments/activities for late this week through the weekend to identify if there are any special risks that need to be addressed should the storm track towards us. Now is the opportunity to give yourself time to think about what needs to be done and to start working through your pre-storm checklists.
Our Office of Emergency Management will be monitoring the storm closely and will pass on any relevant updates. Share this blog post with friends and others in your workplace (and ask that they subscribe) and sign up for free severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts.