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Shovel Smart: Tips for Removing Snow Safely and Without Injury

snow shovel

Posted at 1 p.m.

Several inches of snow have fallen throughout areas of the county and the storm isn’t done with us yet! Today’s snow is falling heavy and wet, so we ask that you take care while removing snow to avoid strain and injury.

Shoveling snow can by physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains, but even more serious heart attacks. Please follow these safety tips when you go out in today’s wintry weather:

  1. If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away.
  2. If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s okay.
  3. Shovel small amounts of snow at a time.
  4. Push the snow instead of lifting where possible. If you have a driveway, move snow to the opposite side of where a plow will push.
  5. Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
  6. Avoid shoveling under snow and ice covered trees and roof lines due to possible falling limbs, ice and snow.
  7. Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40.
  8. Dress in layers and wear warm clothing.

More in this short video:

As for sidewalks, the state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly and children.

Check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities

Winter Storm Warning Issued for Fairfax County and Region

Posted at 3 p.m.

Apparently Old Man Winter isn’t ready to retire. It seems that he has more winter weather in store for us!

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning from midnight tonight until 9 pm. tomorrow, Thursday, March 5. A winter storm warning for heavy snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Significant amounts of snow are forecast that will make travel dangerous. Roads will become snow covered and visibilities will drop to around a quarter-mile at times making travel dangerous.

Winter Storm Warning March 4, 2015

Traveling

With this forecast, you are reminded to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reports that by midnight, more than 3,800 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets. With the storm expected to begin as rain, however, crews will not pre-treat for this storm. They will treat roads with salt and sand during sleet and freezing rain, and begin to plow as the storm transitions to accumulating snow.

“We’re asking drivers to prepare now for a long couple of days,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s district maintenance engineer for Northern Virginia. “It will be vital to stay off the roads tomorrow, as conditions will be treacherous during the storm. Crews will also need that room to clear snow quickly during the day, because frigid temperatures overnight and through the weekend will mean repeated refreeze of any accumulation left on the road.”

Forecast

snowflake-icon Tonight: Occasional rain before 2 a.m., then rain and sleet between 2-5 a.m., then rain, snow, and sleet after 5 a.m. Low around 27. North wind 7 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

snowflake-icon Thursday: Snow and sleet, becoming all snow after 8 a.m. Temperature falling to around 19 by 1 p.m. North wind 10 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New snow and sleet accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.

snowflake-icon Thursday Night: Snow likely, mainly before 7 p.m. Cloudy during the early evening, then gradual clearing, with a low around 9. Wind chill values as low as -3. North wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

weather forecast

What You Can Do

  • You are encouraged to stay off roads throughout the day tomorrow to provide crews as much room as possible to plow and treat roads.
  • You should park vehicles in driveways or on the odd-numbered side of the street to allow plows room to pass.
  • And when shoveling snow, remember to shovel snow to the right of your driveway as you face the road. This prevents snow from piling up when your street is plowed or re-plowed.

More information on preparing for this winter storm can be found on our website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/living/winter and www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards/winter-storm-snow-cold.htm.

Trash and Recycling Collection Cancelled; Private Trash Collection Services Likely Affected

Posted 7:30 a.m.

Due to existing road conditions, Fairfax County trash and recycling collection in sanitary districts (15 percent of county households) has been cancelled for Tuesday, Feb. 17. Collections are planned to resume in sanitary districts on Wednesday (weather and road conditions permitting) on the following schedule:

  • Tuesday and Wednesday collections customers will be collected on Wednesday, Feb. 18
  • Service will return to normal on Thursday

Please check the trash/recycling county customer website for updated service information.

Private Trash/Recycling

The impact of the winter weather may also be affecting the operations of private trash and recycling collectors. Customers of private service providers (more than 85 percent of county households) should contact their trash and recycling collector directly for any changes in service. Contact information for private trash and recycling collectors operating in Fairfax County is available online.

If your trash collection service has been postponed until another day please remove your trash containers from the curb in order to enhance the effectiveness of snow clearing operations and to avoid having your containers damaged or buried in snowbanks.

Board of Supervisors Will Meet Feb. 17 at Noon

Posted 11:14 p.m.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 17, however the meeting time has been changed. The meeting will begin at noon with the budget presentation by County Executive Ed Long. No presentations to the public will be held.

Also, only two afternoon public hearings will be held: Lake Anne Development Partners (Hunter Mill District) and Wesley Hamel Lewinsville (Dranesville District). All other scheduled public hearings are being deferred until the next scheduled board meeting on March 3. For more information on the Board of Supervisors and meetings, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/board.

Otherwise, Fairfax County government offices, courts and schools are closed Feb. 17.

Government Offices and Courts Closed Feb. 17

Posted 10:35 p.m.

County, Courts and School Status

  • Fairfax County Government offices will be CLOSED Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Emergency service personnel should report as scheduled. The Board of Supervisors will meet at noon.
  • Fairfax County Courts will be CLOSED on Feb. 17.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools are CLOSED Feb. 17. School Age Child Care (SACC) centers will be closed.

Transportation: Connector, Fastran

  • Fairfax Connector bus service may be affected by the inclement weather. Check the Connector Web page at fairfaxconnector.com for the current operating status.
  • For information about FASTRAN, call 703-222-9764, TTY 711, or online at fairfaxcounty.gov/ncs/fastran.htm.

Recycling and Trash

Public Meetings

Police Accident Policy Now in Effect

Posted 6:25 p.m.

Though it’s best to stay home tonight if you can, our Police Department will only be responding to accident reports that meet the following criteria:

  • Injuries.
  • Hit and run.
  • One or more vehicles are not drivable.
  • Active argument or conflict between the drivers.

If you call in a routine accident (703-691-3121, TTY 711) that does not meet the above criteria, you will be directed to exchange information with the other driver and to notify your insurance company.

If you need to drive, have emergency supplies in your vehicle: water, food, blankets, flashlight, charged smartphone and extra batteries at a minimum.

9 Things to Know for Upcoming Snow

Posted 11:22 a.m.

As you’ve likely heard, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning from 4 p.m. Monday to noon on Tuesday with 6-8 inches predicted for most of Fairfax County. The latest snowfall prediction map is here:

Feb. 15-16 snow predictions

As the storm approaches, here are 9 things to know:

1.) Get Where You Need to Be Before the Weather Gets Bad: Snow is expected to start falling around 4 p.m. so there’s still time to prepare.

2.) VDOT Snow Plowing: The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on most county roads. VDOT is aggressively pre-treating roads throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties in advance of the snow. By 4 p.m., almost 4,000 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets. You can visit www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in your neighborhood as the storm unfolds. VDOT has more information, including key tips to prepare.

3.) Neighbors: Please make plans to check in on elderly or other housebound people to make sure they are OK and have supplies. After the storm, help dig them out if you’re nearby.

4.) Hypothermia Prevention: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

5.) Pets: Don’t forget your pets — as conditions deteriorate, bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

6.) Fire Hydrants: Depending on how much snow we get, there may be a need to dig out fire hydrants. Please note their location near your home now. If you’re able and if we get enough snow, please help dig out fire hydrants when the snow ends.

7.) Fill Your Car: If you have a car, fill your gas tank before the snow flies. Here’s more information on winterizing your vehicle.

8.) Stay Informed: We have many ways you can choose to stay informed:

9.) Shoveling: Make plans to remove snow now. Check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities

Residents Encouraged to Prepare for Afternoon Commute

Posted at 12:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service winter weather advisory remains in effect until 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 27.

A winter weather advisory for snow means that periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

National Weather Servie forecastGet the complete forecast

This Afternoon’s Commute

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is encouraging commuters in Fairfax County and across Northern Virginia to prepare for the afternoon commute, which is expected to be much more difficult than this morning as rain and wintry mix increases to snow throughout the day.

VDOT is asking drivers to commute/travel in the early afternoon if possible, prior to 4 p.m., to get ahead of increasing precipitation and dropping pavement temperatures expected this evening.

Between this morning’s rush hour and the afternoon rush today, VDOT crews will be applying a light application of salt, or mix of salt and liquid magnesium chloride, to problem spots such as bridges, ramps, hills and overpasses on main roads and in neighborhoods. Crews will continue to treat roads through the evening rush and overnight tonight.

Bridge and pavement temperatures are forecasted to be at or below freezing from 6 p.m. today through mid-day Tuesday.

If out on area roads, please use caution, particularly in neighborhoods where slick conditions may develop this evening.

Weather Alerts

Winter Storms Fairfax Alerts

Finally, with perhaps the first major storm of the winter approaching, don’t forget to sign up for weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts.

Our Office of Emergency Management provides the service for free; you just have to sign up. You can receive alerts on up to 10 devices, such as home phone, mobile phone (including text) and email, as well as receive alerts geo-targeted to up go five locations, such as home, work or school locations for children.

Before the weather hits, make sure you sign up for Fairfax Alerts. Additional winter preparedness information is online.

Snow and Ice Could Impact Morning and Afternoon Commutes on Wednesday

Posted at 3:45 p.m.

VDOT logoThe Virginia Department of Transportation is asking drivers to prepare for a day-long storm tomorrow that could make driving hazardous in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.

You are encouraged to monitor weather forecasts and consider teleworking or delaying travel tomorrow. Also, plan for a longer than normal commute, with snow predicted in the morning and hazardous sleet and freezing rain beginning in the afternoon.

weather forecast Jan. 13-14, 2015

By 4 a.m. Wednesday, VDOT reports that about 700 trucks will be staged throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties to treat roads. Additional trucks may be added to handle sleet and snow during the afternoon commute.

Today, crews are pre-treating major roads and trouble spots in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties. On interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495 — including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange, I-66 at Route 29 and the Capital Beltway interchange at Route 1 — crews use liquid magnesium chloride. Problem spots on other major roads, such as the Fairfax County Parkway and routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50 and 123, are pre-treated with salt brine.

Temperatures and Wind Chill Bring Dangerous Conditions

Posted at 4:25 p.m.

A wind chill advisory is in effect from 10 p.m. this evening until 8 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday morning, Jan. 8. A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills. This can result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly cloudy conditions overnight, then gradually becoming clear, with a low around 8 degrees. Wind chill values will be as low as -5, with blustery, Northwest winds 15 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph.

What You Can Do

  • If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
  • Fairfax County’s emergency homeless shelters have additional capacity during winter months to take in people overnight who are at risk of hypothermia. Emergency personnel will determine which shelter option is best in the situation. Learn more about our emergency shelters and hypothermia program.
  • You are encouraged to check in on elderly or other housebound people you may know to make sure they have enough heat and food.
  • With the cold temperatures, snow that fell Tuesday can refreeze and create hazardous icy conditions, including black ice, so drive cautiously and be careful walking outside.
  • Remember to clear your sidewalks of snow and ice so your neighbors and children can safety walk through the neighborhood. More details about shoveling snow can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/shovel.

Pets:

  • Because the temperatures predicted over the next few days may be deadly to pets, the animal shelter is offering temporary, emergency housing for cats, dogs and small companion animals. If you or someone you know needs to utilize this service, contact the shelter at 703-830-1100, extension 2, or call the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
  • Pets, even those who typically live outdoors, should be brought inside; only take your pet outside for short bathroom breaks and do not leave your pet outdoors unattended. Also, make sure to provide access to non-frozen drinking water at all times.
  • If you care for feral, outdoor cats make sure they have access to shelter and follow these tips from the ASPCA to ensure outdoor cats are kept safe in cold weather:
  • Do not leave your pets in cars during cold weather. The inside of a car can act as a refrigerator and your pet can quickly freeze to death.

surviving winter weather infographic

Winter Weather Advisory in Effect for Tuesday Morning with Snow in the Forecast

Winter Weather Advisory Issued for Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015

Posted at 3:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for snow, in effect from 4 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6. A winter weather advisory for snow means that periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

Snow, possibly moderate at times, is expected with accumulations up to 2 inches possible under the heaviest precipitation bands. The snow is expected late tonight through Tuesday morning including the morning traffic rush, with the heaviest snow from 6 to 11 a.m. This snow, accumulating on surfaces below freezing, will make for hazardous travel conditions.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is preparing for the snow and will have crews treating area roads with salt and sand Tuesday morning, and will begin plowing after about two inches of snow has accumulated.

Tuesday’s high is expected to be above freezing (35 degrees), but the forecast calls for below freezing temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday, so be sure to dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, coat, mittens/gloves, hat and shoes/boots, and take precautions against the cold.

winter weather advisory issued for Fairfax County

Watch for signs of frostbite:

  • These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose.
  • If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

Watch for signs of hypothermia:

  • These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
  • If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Get more on the forecast; learn more about staying safe during cold weather and what you can do with that snow once it falls.

 

It’s Now “Officially” Winter

preparing for snow

Posted at 9 a.m.

Today, Sunday, Dec. 21, marks the winter solstice and begins the first official day of winter. And because of this — coupled with the slight chance of snow in the forecast for this weekend — we wanted to share some snow tips to take before snow or ice arrives that will make your life a little easier.

We’re not suggesting you have to run out to the grocery store this weekend and stock up on supplies (like the squirrel above), but we do encourage you to maintain an emergency supply kit at home, work and in your vehicle and replenish it regularly so you are prepared in case of a major snow storm.

Now we do realize that these aren’t emergency-related tips, but we hope that they are something you might not have heard of before and that will ease your frustration when dealing with an ice covered car or truck.

Infographic Tips Before it Snows

While these tips are designed to help you get in and out of your vehicle easier — think less scraping and defrosting — and get moving more quickly, we do encourage you to be aware of road conditions whenever you are out and about on the county’s roadways.

The most important safety tip is to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad. If we can minimize traffic on roads it’ll help VDOT snow plows clear the roads quicker while also giving public safety responders an easier path while responding to emergencies.

The National Weather Service reports that death or serious injury is more likely to occur as a result of traffic accidents than the direct impact of the storm itself.

After the Snow

If you must go outside after a snow fall (or during), be careful on walkways and roads, which can be dangerous despite appearances. Also, travel in the day if you can when visibility is better and stay on main roads (avoid back road shortcuts) that have priority for snow plowing.

Our emergency management office has lots of information and guidance on how to prepare for a winter storm. And make signing up for weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts part of your winter weather readiness efforts. You can sign up right now — it’ll only take a couple of minutes.

Winter Weather Advisory Could Bring First Snow of Season

Posted at 1:20 p.m.

A National Weather Service winter weather advisory has been issued for Fairfax County for tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 26, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.NWS Weather Advisory (11-25-14)NWS Weather Advisory Colors

 

The advisory is for snow accumulations of anywhere between 2 to 5 inches in the far Northern and Western suburbs of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Md., and a coating to an inch near Interstate 95.

A winter weather advisory means that periods of snow will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving.

The National Weather Service indicates that rain will change to snow between 8-11 a.m. tomorrow morning with the heaviest snow occurring through 2 p.m. Wednesday. Snow will taper off late Wednesday afternoon with temperatures in the lower to middle 30s. Winds will be north becoming northwest 10 to 15 mph with gusts around 20 mph.

Weather Forecast for Fairfax County

National Weather Service Forecast for Fairfax County

Holiday Travel

With this advisory, the National Weather Service warns that roads may become snow covered and slippery, mainly across the far Northern and Western suburbs of D.C. and Baltimore. Snow will also reduce the visibility.

If you are traveling on Wednesday:

  • Get where you need to be before the weather gets bad.
  • Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and the effect of weather on road conditions.
  • Before beginning your trip, know the current road conditions and weather forecast. For statewide highway information 24 hours a day, call 511 or go to 511virginia.org.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) also offers these suggestions to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving and encourages you to to check your:

  • Brakes and tires.
  • Battery and ignition system.
  • Antifreeze and thermostat.
  • Windshield wipers and de-icing washer fluid.
  • Headlights, tail and brake lights, blinkers and emergency flashers.
  • Exhaust system, heater and defroster.
  • Oil.
  • And properly lubricate door locks that may be prone to freezing.

Get more winter preparedness information online.

 

7 Things to Know About the Snow

Posted 8:08 a.m.

If you’re a snow lover, then the luck of the Irish is with you today! As you begin your day, here are a few things to know:

1.) Please stay off the roads. We need the roads clear for public safety response and Virginia Department of Transportation snow removal crews. Plows will be out in full force this morning, so never crowd a plow!

2.) If you must drive, practice common sense and drive slowly, especially on secondary roads. Remember that your car cannot start, stop or turn as quickly on snow or ice. Find road conditions on one of our maps.

3.) The Police Department’s accident policy is in effect, meaning officers will respond to personal injury crashes, hit and run crashes involving injury and to fatal crashes only.

4.) County government offices, courts and schools are closed today. Your trash/recycling collection has likely been affected.

5.) When shoveling snow, help clear sidewalks, especially near school bus stops; clear fire hydrants; and be careful if you have heart conditions.Snow shovel safety tips

6.) To see the status of VDOT plowing in your neighborhood, enter your address at www.vdotplows.org.

7.) Check in on elderly neighbors and other housebound individuals to see if they need any help.

Visit our winter weather page for more tips and resources. Stay safe!

Changes to County Trash and Recycling Collection Schedule; Private Trash Collection Services Likely Affected

Posted 6:50 a.m.

Due to the winter weather and existing road conditions, Fairfax County trash and recycling collection in sanitary districts (15 percent of county households) has been cancelled for Monday, March 17. Collections are planned to resume in sanitary districts on Tuesday (weather and road conditions permitting) on the following schedule:

  • Monday routes will be collected on Tuesday, March 18
  • Tuesday and Wednesday routes will be collected on Wednesday, March 19
  • No changes are planned for Thursday and Friday customers

Please check the trash/recycling county customer website for updated service information. Service-related questions can also be directed to the trash/recycling customer service center at 703-802-3322, TTY 711.

Private Trash/Recycling

The impact of the winter weather may also be affecting the operations of private trash and recycling collectors. Customers of private service providers (more than 85 percent of county households) should contact their trash and recycling collector directly for any changes in service. Contact information for private trash and recycling collectors operating in Fairfax County is available online.

If your trash collection service has been postponed until another day please remove your trash containers from the curb in order to enhance the effectiveness of snow clearing operations and to avoid having your containers damaged or buried in snowbanks.

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