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Don’t Forget This Morning’s Tornado Drill at 9:45 a.m.

Statewide Tornado Drill

Posted at 8:30 a.m.

Today is the day for the annual statewide tornado drill. It happens at 9:45 a.m. We hope you’ve registered, although it isn’t necessary to do so in order to participate in the drill.

This morning’s drill begins with the National Weather Service (NWS) sending a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasts via the Emergency Alert System, simulating what you would hear during an actual tornado warning. Fairfax Alerts will also send an alert to begin the drill. (If you haven’t yet registered for Fairfax Alerts, it doesn’t take long — go ahead and sign up now.)

When the test tornado warning sounds or when you receive your Fairfax Alert message, you should move as quickly as possible to a safe area in a sturdy building. Safe areas are basements and interior rooms on the lowest level of a building such as bathrooms, closets or hallways. Once in the safe area, crouch down or sit on the floor facing down and cover your head with your hands. Also be sure to stay away from windows.

Twelve tornadoes impacted Virginia in 2014, causing numerous injuries and more than $700,000 in property damage. Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning, and you need to know the drill. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives.

For more information about tornado safety and to register for this morning’s statewide tornado drill, go to


Plan to Participate in the March 17 Statewide Tornado Drill

Posted at 9:45 a.m.

2015 Tornado Drill

Tornadoes can happen anywhere and at any time of year, making preparedness for these potentially deadly storms even more important. For example, Fairfax County had a couple of tornado watches and tornado warnings in 2014.

To be better prepared, businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals can practice taking cover from tornadoes by participating in the annual Statewide Tornado Drill Tuesday, March 17, at 9:45 a.m.

Registration for the tornado drill is not necessary, but you can learn more and show your support by signing up at

The annual drill is a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service (NWS).

To start the tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. on March 17, the NWS will send a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasts, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning.

“Receiving a tornado warning as quickly as possible can make the difference between life and death,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “One of the fastest ways for people to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio, which provides warning information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. However, cellphone apps such as Ready Virginia are also available that quickly provide critical warning information at little or no cost. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) also provide tornado and flash flood warnings via text message to any compatible cell within the warning area, even if you are visiting or just traveling through an affected area.”

For help in conducting a tornado drill and to register for next week’s statewide drill, go to

Video: Are You Ready for Tuesday’s Tornado Drill

Posted at 3:55 p.m.

Tuesday, March 11, is the statewide tornado drill, beginning at 9:45 a.m.

The tornado drill is an important statewide safety exercise in an effort to prepare for nature’s most violent storms. Virginia has been hit hard in the past by multiple tornadoes that have cost lives and left extensive damage. In fact Virginia has had 70 tornadoes since 2011, with more than $3 million in damage. 


When the drill starts at 9:45, immediately protect yourself by going to a designated shelter-in-place or to the center of an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.

Find more information on the Statewide Tornado Drill or additional drill resources at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) at Find more information on tornadoes from FEMA at

When it comes to tornadoes, there is no such thing as a “tornado season.” Tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime, and you need to know the drill — you need to be prepared to act quickly.

Statewide Tornado Drill is Two Weeks Away

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

statewide tornado drill March 11, 2014When it comes to tornadoes, there’s no such thing as a “tornado season.”  Tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime, and you need to know the drill. The annual statewide tornado drill is just two weeks away — Tuesday, March 11. Are you registered to participate?

More than 391,000 Virginians are already signed up and will participate in the tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. on March 11. With at least three tornadoes EF-O tornadoes in Virginia just last month, there’s no better time to practice tornado safety.

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Be prepared to act quickly.

Participating is easy. All you’ll need to do to prepare your home or business for a tornado is to register for this year’s tornado drill at Ready Virginia.

Potentially Dangerous Storms Loom for Thursday; 7 Ways to Prepare Now

Posted 3:53 p.m.

Potentially dangerous thunderstorms are possible in our area Thursday. The National Weather Service is calling for possible heavy rains, flooding, tornadoes and strong winds that could pose numerous challenges.

Take this threat seriously. While nothing like the wrath of last year’s derecho storm is predicted at this time, this line of storms may cause more havoc than a usual summer thunderstorm. There are a few things you can do today and this evening to prepare:

1.) Secure Loose Items

Bring in or secure any loose items outside your house or on your condo balcony. High winds could cause those objects to fly around and injure people or damage property.

2.) Storm Drains

Check rain gutters and storm drains. We’ve had a lot of rain in recent days and with more on the way, flooding is possible, so make sure drains are clear.

3.) Digital Preparedness

Prepare digitally! Power outages are possible, so have your devices fully charged. Here are 10 more tips to help with digital preparedness.

4.) Power Outage Supplies

Have enough batteries, flashlights, radios and other things you may need for a power outage.

5.) Report Power Outages

Be ready to report power outages to your provider: Dominion Virginia Power 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; NOVEC 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711.

6.) Stay Alert and Informed

Weather forecasts can vary, so stay informed and keep an eye on changing weather conditions. Pay particular attention to tornado watches (conditions favorable) and warnings (tornado sighted, seek shelter).

  • Sign up for our emergency text alerts/emails. If you live in the Huntington, Belle View and New Alexandria areas of the county, you should choose the “Riverwatch” group for information about possible flooding.
  • Follow @fairfaxcounty on Twitter; use #ffxstorm to share what you’re seeing locally.
  • This blog will have updates as events warrant, so if you’re not already subscribed by email or RSS, please do so by visiting the top right column of this page.
  • Follow local media reports, credible social media accounts and other information sources for the latest alerts, warnings and protective actions.

7.) Share Information

Share this information with coworkers, neighbors, your faith community and more. Use the sharing tools below or print this information. Help someone, too, such as an elderly neighbor in securing loose items or checking storm drains.


Audio Tips:

Be Alert for Tornadoes and Floods

Posted 4:39 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for our area until 10 p.m. and a flash flood warning until 9 p.m. You need to be alert for both threats this evening.

The worst of the potential weather may hit during rush hour between 6 and 8 p.m.

Important Driving Tip:

  • If driving and it’s raining, turn on your headlights so other drivers, pedestrians and bikers can see you. Slow down while driving, too.

Tornado Safety Tips:

  • A watch means conditions are possible for tornadoes to develop.
  • A warning means a tornado has been sighted; seek shelter immediately.
  • Pay attention to our text/email alert system, media outlets and credible social media channels for any warnings.
  • Determine in advance where you will take cover in case of a tornado warning.
    • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
    • If underground shelter is not available, go into a windowless interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.  Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
    • A vehicle does not provide good protection.  A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby.  Lie down flat and cover your head with your hands.  Do not get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • More tornado safety tips.

Flood Safety Tips:

  • “Turn around, don’t drown.” Never drive through a flooded roadway as the depth and water current are unknowns and could be dangerous.
  • Keep children inside and away from streams and creeks. The county has experienced loss of life in previous years because of rapidly rising water.
  • More flood safety tips.

For Residents in Belle View/New Alexandria and Huntington Areas:

  • Based on the latest forecast, if we receive two inches of rainfall within a one hour period the Huntington area could experience significant street flooding.  Residents should move cars to higher elevations.  Localized street flooding could be expected in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas.  We do not anticipate any structural flooding at either the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas.  We will continue to monitor the weather conditions. Residents should be subscribed to the Riverwatch list on CEAN.

Don’t Forget to Participate in the Tornado Drill at 9:45 a.m.

Posted at 8:35 a.m.

The Statewide Tornado Drill is this morning at 9:45 a.m. Our emergency management office will send a Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) message announcing the drill so you won’t forget to participate. If you are not registered for CEAN alerts, take this opportunity to do so.

What You Should Do During the Drill?

  • You should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near your home or office building.  Move as quickly as possible to the nearest shelter or other safe place.  Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building; avoid using elevators.
  • Make sure that any visitors to your office know that this is a drill, not a real event.  Assist any visitors to shelter.
  • In a real tornado emergency, once you reach a safe area, crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover your heads with their hands.  Ensure that everyone in your organization knows this.  You can practice crouching down.

Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere with little or no warning. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives. How will you respond to a tornado warning?       

Know the Terms:

  • Tornado Watch – Conditions are favorable for a tornado and that tornadoes are possible. 
  • Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar and might be headed your when. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately

Do You Know What to Do if a Tornado Approaches?    

If a tornado is headed your way:

  • Shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. Go to the building’s basement.
  • If there is no basement in your home or office, move to a small, windowless, interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building. 
  • If you are in a high rise building go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • When shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area (do not get under an overpass or bridge).

For more information or assistance with emergency planning, contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.

Video: Register for March 12 Statewide Tornado Drill

Posted at 12:15 p.m.

Last month, we encouraged you to register for Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill, scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m.

As Michael Guditus, Fairfax County’s emergency management training coordinator, explains below, there is still time to so. Check out the video for more information and to hear the benefits of participating.

To sign up for the drill, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s registration webpage.

Register Now for Statewide Tornado Drill March 12

Posted at 11:48 a.m.

It’s one month away! Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m. The date also will be observed as Tornado Preparedness Day across the state.

The tornado drill is an important statewide safety exercise. In recent years Virginia has been hard hit by multiple tornadoes that have cost lives and left extensive property damage. Some communities continue to recover from devastating tornadoes.

In each of the past two years, some 1.2 million Virginians have registered to participate in the Statewide Tornado Drill. Registration for this year’s drill is now open. To register and to learn more about planning a tornado drill, go to and click through the rotating graphics at the top of the page, or go to

Additional help in planning a tornado drill is available through the county’s Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711. The Statewide Tornado Drill is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Ready Virginia and the National Weather Service in cooperation with local emergency management offices.

You may also want to go back and look at a recap article from the county’s three-day tornado exercise held last year, “Tornado Education, Engagement and Exercise.” It includes links to resources to know the difference between a tornado watch and warning, how to recognize the danger signs of a tornado, 10 questions to ask if a tornado strikes Fairfax County, and a daily recap of each day of the exercise that provides some valuable insight into what actions the county will be going through if a major tornado were to strike here.

Virginia Tornado Drill March 12, 2013, 9:45 a.m. Register now to participate

If widespread severe weather threatens on March 12, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 13, at 9:45 a.m.

Be Alert for Severe Storms Today

Posted 1:32 p.m.

A strong cold front will move through our area later today (probably between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.). This front could cause damaging wind gusts in excess of 55 mph, locally heavy rainfall and an isolated tornado. Please stay informed as the storm may be heavier in some areas, including localized flooding.

tornado watch has been issued for the National Capital Region until 7 p.m. Know the differences between tornado watches and warnings.  

Six Actions to Take:

1.) Sign up for weather text/email alerts at and/or pay close attention to weather forecasts. 

2.) If roads flood, “turn around, don’t drown.” Do not drive through flooded roads. This storm may strike us during rush hour, so please slow down and allow extra time for travel.

 3.) Please keep children away from streams and creeks that may rise rapidly.

 4.) Bring in any outdoor furniture or other items that may not be secure.

 5.) In case you lose power, call your provider. Do not assume they know your power is out. For Dominion Virginia Power customers, call 1-866-366-4357, TTY 711. For NOVEC customers, call 1-888-335-0500, TTY 711.

 6.) If you are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1. If you are experiencing other public safety non-emergencies, please call 703-691-2131, TTY 703-204-2264.

Tornado Exercise: Fairfax Prepares Day 9

Posted 4:58 p.m.

day 9 iconYesterday, our community was battered by some very strong storms. We even had a tornado warning; while first reports indicated there were some tornado touchdowns, the National Weather Service later concluded all damage was from straight line winds.

But, it’s important to remember that tornadoes can impact our community. And while it’s not prime tornado season right now — usually early spring — it’s important to know what to do in the event a tornado approaches our area and what to do after one may hit us.

In March, Fairfax County Government held a three-day emergency exercise around a major fake tornado scenario. The fake tornadoes struck around 8 a.m. on March 19 in the western part of county near Centreville, Chantilly and Fair Lakes. There were many major impacts.

Exclamation point iconTHE ASK: This week, review our series of blog posts from the tornado exercise and ask yourselves the various questions we posed. How would you answer? Are you prepared for a tornado or other incident that could impact us in similar ways?

TELL US you’ve done this:

  • Post a quick reply in this blog’s comments section below such as “I’ve done this.”
  • Use the Twitter hashtag #fairfaxprepares and tweet your accomplishment. Include photos if you’d like.
  • Like our special Facebook page for this campaign to leave comments and share tips with your friends.
  • Email us at that you accomplished an ask.


  • Click the links below to email, share on social media or print a hard copy. Thanks!

30 Ways in 30 Days logo

Tornado Watch Until 2 a.m.; Second Wave of Storms Coming Soon

Posted 8:05 p.m.

The National Weather Service tornado watch continues until 2 a.m. A second wave of storms is on its way to our area bringing with it heavy rain, wind, hail and possible tornadoes. This second wave will hit between 9 and 11 p.m.

Please stay alert for changing conditions, especially nighttime tornadoes and road flooding. Two cars were caught in swift water this evening, so please, turn around, don’t drown.

Stay tuned to local media, our emergency alert network, social media or other tools that will alert you.

Tornado Warning for Burke/Lorton/Springfield Cancelled

The tornado warning for Burke, Lorton and Springfield areas has been cancelled.

Rain, winds and hail still expected tonight. Please be alert for more warnings.

When driving, turn around, don’t drown.

Tornado Warning Until 5:45; Seek Shelter Now

Tornado warning until 5:45: Burke, Lorton, Newington, Springfield, 395/495 interchange, Franconia: seek shelter now!

Severe Weather to Impact Our Area; Tornado Watch Until 9 p.m.

Posted 3:01 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch until 9 p.m. for Fairfax County and the entire National Capital Area. Thunderstorms, heavy rains, wind, large hail and potential flooding are also expected beginning this afternoon.

This is a dangerous storm. Let’s break down potential issues to consider:


A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado and that tornadoes are possible. The National Weather Service is predicting that the greatest threat for tornadoes in Fairfax County will be between 7 and 10 p.m.

Think of where you would normally be during that time –at home, in a restaurant or movie theater, outdoors, at work or in the car. You may only have a few seconds to react. Decide now where you would go if a tornado warning is issued.  

You may also be sleeping, too, so ensure you have some way to be notified of a potential tornado warning. Sign up for our Community Emergency Alert Network, listen to a weather radio, follow social media sites or watch local TV.

View more tornado preparedness and safety tips.

Heavy Rain, Winds and Flooding

This weather system could bring winds up to 50 mph and 1-2 inches of rain.  If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. Do not drive in flooded roads – “turn around, don’t drown.” Also, it’s very important to keep your children inside and away from streams and creeks.

If you live in a flood-prone area, identify where to go if ordered to evacuate and the safest route to get there. If there is a flood, you may only have minutes to get to safety. Choose several places – a friend’s home in another town, a motel or a shelter. View more flood safety tips.

Due to high winds, please secure all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.

Power Outages

Due to high winds, you may lose power. Plan ahead for life without power. Have an emergency kit ready with food to eat and other supplies.

Avoid using lighted candles as they may cause a fire. Flashlights are safer when the power is out.

If you are driving and traffic lights are out, please abide by these rules.

In case you lose your power, here are the numbers to call to report the outage:

  • Dominion Virginia Power outages and downed wires: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711
  • BGE outages: 877-778-2222; downed wires: 800-685-0123
  • NOVEC (Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative) outages and downed wires: 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711
  • Pepco outages: 1-877-737-2662

Emergency Phone Numbers

Only call 9-1-1 for emergencies.

Refer to this list of important phone numbers for other key contacts; bookmark it on your computer, smartphone or write down the numbers.


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