Posted at 12:15 p.m.
he National Weather Service has issued a flood watch from noon today, Wednesday, Feb. 3, through late tonight, which means that there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.
The combination of melting snow and periods of heavy rain could result in flooding of urban areas and streams this afternoon and tonight. Rainfall amounts will average between one half and one inch, with isolated spots between one and two inches possible. In addition, ice may be on some of the small streams which could enhance the flooding potential.
Please continue to monitor the weather forecast and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should also be prepared to take action should flooding develop.
Turn Around. Don’t Drown
Six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. As little as 12 inches of flowing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs.
Safety first – if you are unsure about the amount of water on a flooded road, Turn Around. Don’t Drown. With heavy rain in the forecast for today, here are a few reminders from our Police Department to keep you safe during a flood:
- Always plan ahead and know the risks before flooding happens.
- If flooding is expected, or is occurring, get to higher ground fast! Leave typical flood areas such as ditches, ravines, dips or low spots and canyons.
- Never drive through flooded roadways. Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. Turn Around Don’t Drown.
Clear Storm Drains
Blocked stormdrains prevent the flow of rain and melting snow 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 snow and debris to help alleviate potential flooding and to protect the environment. At no time, however, should a resident 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.
(Posted 4:09 p.m.)
You can lose power at any time for a variety of reasons.
Add in heavy rains + saturated ground + high wind gusts + potentially wobbly trees, and that’s a recipe for possible power outages.
- Keep your digital devices charged!
- Back up critical files on your computer.
- Unplug electrical equipment. Spikes and surges could occur as power is restored, damaging equipment.
- Make sure that your emergency supply kit can be found easily if the lights go out.
- If you use well water, pre-plan by filling a bathtub with water for use with sanitation, etc.
If Your Power Goes Out
- Report your outage! Never assume a neighbor has reported it.
- Use a flashlight or battery-powered lantern for emergency lighting. Never use candles.
- Unplug electrical equipment until a steady power supply returns.
- If you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call or text 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.
Food safety is a big concern if you lose power for a long time. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. More tips:
(Posted 12:13 p.m.)
All of this heavy rain until Saturday may lead to some flooding in your home, business or other location.
We’ve provided 8 ways to prepare for potential floods, but in case you have to respond to a flood, here’s who to contact:
- Rising water that threatens your safety, call 9-1-1.
- Storm flooding 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.
- For sanitary sewer flooding, call 703-323-1211, TTY 703-239-8498.
- If you have damp walls or floors, contact a water removal or restoration company.
(Posted 10:10 a.m.)
Downed trees may become an issue in the next few days with the combination of soaking rainfall and gusty winds in the forecast. We want you to be safe and know what to do if a tree falls:
If a Tree Falls Into Your Home
- Get everyone safely out of your house. Use your cellphone or go to a neighbor’s house and call 9-1-1.
- Stay away from the home until public safety employees can access your home for structural safety (as well as ensuring your utilities are OK or should be turned off.)
- Only after all of these safety measures should you then call your insurance company.
If a Tree Falls on a Road or Other Land
It does matter where a tree falls:
- Adjacent to Public Roads: Contact Virginia Department of Transportation at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (TTY 711).
- On County Parkland: Contact Fairfax County Park Authority at 703-324-8594 (TTY 703-324-3988).
- Posing Hazard to Public Areas: Contact Fairfax County Urban Forestry at 703-324-1770 (TTY 703-324-1877).
- On Private Property: Removal is the property owner’s responsibility.
If a Fallen Tree Puts Downed Power Lines on Your Car
Always avoid downed power lines. However, if you are driving and a fallen tree causes downed power lines to come in contact with your car, you should take these safety steps:
- Call 9-1-1 and stay in the car until help arrives.
- However, if staying in the car puts you in physical danger, for instance the car is on fire, follow these steps:
- Open the door and avoid touching the framework.
- Jump out of the car as far as you can.
- Use short shuffling footsteps until you are clear of the area.
And after the storm passes, avoid tree trimming scams that are rampant in our community.
(Updated Oct. 2, 8:40 a.m.)
There’s a lot of rain on tap until Saturday, which could cause some serious flooding situations.
There are two storms to keep in mind:
- Friday to Saturday: The National Weather Service is predicting 2 to 3 inches of rain with likely flooding; flood watches are now in effect. The heaviest rain is expected between 2 and 8 p.m. Friday.
- Hurricane Joaquin: The path of the hurricane appears to be out to sea rather than on land; keep an eye on weather forecasts.
Here are 8 ways to get ready for the Friday to Saturday rain:
#1: Turn Around, Don’t Drown
If you’re out amid all of the rain that’s coming, we know this message may sound a little funny, but swift water rescues happen in our county when roads flood. Don’t drive through any flooded roads — “turn around, don’t drown.”
#2: Kids and Creeks
Do not allow children to play near creeks or other bodies of water that may rise rapidly. Many of our local waterways and creeks will likely experience some flooding, so keep kids away.
#3: Storm Drains and Gutters
It’s fall, so many of our storm drains and gutters are covered in leaves. Clear leaves from storm drains, gutters and other areas that, if clogged, could cause flooding. If you live within a homeowner’s association or apartment complex check in to see if they plan to clear common areas.
#4: Move Valuables to Higher Ground
If you live in low-lying areas that have flooded before, move vehicles to higher ground. Try to avoid parking under trees when possible because the saturated ground may lead to downed trees. Move any valuables from the basement, especially if your basement has flooded before. Take pictures of your property before the storms to help validate any insurance claims.
If you think you may need sandbags to protect your property from flooding, especially in areas that historically flood, please visit a local hardware store and get supplies there. Fairfax County does not provide sandbags.
#6: Fairfax Alerts and Wireless Emergency Alerts
Be sure to sign up for Fairfax Alerts and get the latest local watches, warnings and weather updates sent to your various devices. If you own a smartphone and if a dangerous situation warrants based on your location, then you will receive Wireless Emergency Alerts, which is separate from Fairfax Alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts come with a distinct ringtone and vibration pattern in order to get your attention. Pay attention to these alerts, which are usually sent by the National Weather Service.
#7: Supplies and Gas
Get your supplies – water, medicines, canned food, cash, pet food and more. View suggestions for emergency supply kits. In advance of all of this weather, it’s always a good idea to get a full tank of gas if you own a car.
#8: Phone Numbers
Save important phone numbers to your phone or write them down, especially your power company. Always report a power outage.
Please share this information with your family, friends and co-workers so our whole community can be better prepared.
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Fairfax County and much of the National Capital Region, calling for thunderstorms likely late this afternoon and evening. NWS notes that some of the thunderstorms may become severe with damaging wind gusts; large hail and an isolated tornado are also possible. (complete forecast)
With recent rains, we have seen many flooded roads in the county making travel dangerous. Dave McKernan, coordinator of emergency management, encourages you to turn around, don’t drown.
It is often difficult to tell how deep water may be, especially at night. Just 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
In addition, please remember to keep children away from creeks and streams as the water may rise quickly. And if you are in a low area or near a small stream or drainage ditch, expect water to rise rapidly. Stay safe and head to higher ground if needed.
Finally, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reports that property owners are responsible for the maintenance of drainage facilities, such as ditches and channels, on their property when the facilities are not part of a VDOT-owned drainage easement or a county easement. Property owners are responsible for keeping stormwater free-flowing through their land, by keeping grass clippings, leaves and other debris from accumulating. This will help to avoid water from ponding on the road, which could cause a major safety hazard and pavement damage.
Posted at 2:40 p.m.
The National Weather Service forecast indicates that the county could expect a maximum of 2 inches of rain within the next hour, and Fairfax County is under a flash flood watch. Showers with embedded areas of heavy rainfall will continue through tonight.
Although it won’t be raining all the time, periods of heavy rain will leave the ground water logged resulting in potential flooding.
A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.
Huntington and Belle View/New Alexandria Communities
If this amount of rain falls in the Cameron Run watershed county officials expect significant street flooding in the Huntington area. As a precaution, residents in the Huntington area are advised to move vehicles to higher elevations. We also may experience localized street flooding near the intersection of Olde Towne Road and Wood Haven Road and the vicinity of 6700 West Wakefield Drive in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas.
At this time, county officials do not anticipate any structural flooding in the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas based on the latest forecast, nor do anticipate any structural flooding if we should receive the full amount of rainfall.
Public safety, public works and emergency management continue to monitor the storm and conditions on the ground throughout the county and will send additional alerts if the situation changes.
Our Police blog is reporting on impacted roads and road closures due to the heavy rain. Check the blog for the most current list of affected roads and note that all roads may not be listed at this time. Don’t risk driving through water covered roadways. Remember the saying: “Turn Around. Don’t Drown!”
Posted at 12:45 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch in effect until 8 p.m. this evening, Thursday, May 15.
In addition, a flash flood watch is in effect from 6 p.m. tonight through Friday afternoon for Fairfax County and the National Capital Region. A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding.
Showers and scattered thunderstorms are expected with periods of heavy rain developing late this afternoon and continuing through midday Friday. The heaviest rain will be late tonight into Friday morning. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected with locally higher amounts possible. This amount of rainfall has the potential to produce flash flooding, especially in urban areas and along small rivers and streams.
Huntington and Belle View/New Alexandria Residents
Based on the latest NWS forecast, county officials estimate that if we receive localized rainfall of 1-1/2 inches of rain within a one hour period, residents will likely experience minor street flooding in the Huntington area. As a precaution, residents in the Huntington area are encouraged to move vehicles to higher elevations.
County officials also believe that residents experience localized street flooding near the intersection of Olde Towne Road an Wood Haven Road and the vicinity of 6700 West Wakefield Drive in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas. However, no structural flooding in the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas is anticipated based on the latest forecast. Staff from the county’s Public Works and Environmental Services, public safety and emergency management offices will continue to monitor the storm and provide updates if the forecast or anticipated conditions worsen.
- This Afternoon: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 81. Southeast wind 14 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
- Tonight: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds and heavy rain. Low around 62. Southeast wind 13 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible.
- Friday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 71. South wind 9 to 13 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.
- Friday Night: A chance of showers between 8pm and 2am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming partly cloudy, with a low around 48. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
- Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. West wind 7 to 13 mph.
Continue to monitor weather forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued. You should also sign up to receive weather alerts on your mobile device, as well as by email, from the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN). Sign up at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cean.
Posted at 4:20 p.m.
Fairfax County and the surrounding areas have received a lot of rain in the past 24 hours, and while the intensity has decreased, rain is still falling in certain areas and roadways are wet, which affects your ability to quickly stop your vehicle during your afternoon commute.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this afternoon and evening as you travel.
First, turn on your headlights and your windshield wipers. Your wipers are obvious, but unfortunately, many of us forget to turn on our headlights, which helps us be seen by others on these overcast, grey rainy days.
Once in your vehicle and on your way, remember to give yourself plenty of space around other vehicles. AAA Mid-Atlantic suggests on three-lane roads to drive in the middle lane. They say that most roads are higher in the middle, which means there’s a greater chance of water runoff and standing water in the side lanes.
Be sure to slow down when you see water standing on the surface of the pavement, especially on freeways. Also, drive in the tracks left by any vehicle ahead.
If hydroplaning does occur, do not brake. Instead, ease your foot off the accelerator to gradually decrease speed until your tires regain traction, and continue to look and steer where you want to go. In fact braking in wet conditions is tricky business. Sudden, hard or prolonged braking can cause a skid.
If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS), all you need to do is press the brake pedal and hold it down. Do not pump the brakes, because ABS does that very rapidly for you. The system automatically senses if a wheel begins to lock and quickly releases and reapplies the brakes as many times as necessary to keep the wheel from locking up.
If your vehicle is not equipped with anti-lock brakes, the best way to brake under these conditions is to use squeeze braking. For squeeze braking, keep your heel on the floor and use your toes to apply pressure on the brake pedal. If the wheels lock, ease off the brake pedal to a point where they just release. Adjust pedal pressure as necessary. This gives you the best combination of braking effort and directional control.
Flood Warning and Flash Flood Watch
The National Weather Service has extended the Flood Warning for Fairfax County until 9 p.m. tonight and a Flash Flood Watch remains in effect through late tonight.
Rapidly moving water is powerful and can be a threat to vehicles as well as people and property. Please stay away from rapidly rising creeks and streams and don’t drive through roads covered in water. You can’t tell how deep the water may be, so remember to turn around, don’t drown.
Weather information is online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/weather-forecast.htm.
Posted at 2 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning until 4:15 p.m. this afternoon for Fairfax County and other portions of Northern Virginia.
At 1:17 p.m., NWS Doppler radar indicated very heavy rain capable of producing flash flooding. Up to three inches of rain has fallen in the last 24 hours. Additional rainfall amounts of up to 1 inch can be expected.
Please remember to turn on your headlights anytime you turn on your wipers, but also if it’s overcast or rainy — like today. The short video below from the California Department of Motor Vehicles does a good job of showing why you need to turn on your headlights. Plus, it’s also the law!