Posted 8:45 p.m.
The sun was out…but expected below freezing temperatures overnight will bring lots of icy conditions tomorrow. Fairfax County Safety Officer Judy Schambach cautions residents to beware of black ice and offer tips to avoid slips and falls.
Mike Guditus, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, and Don Willis, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, discuss the latest weather conditions and remind residents to stay off the roads, even after the snow ends.
(Posted 5:00 a.m.)
As the storm continues to do its work, you may well find yourself without power. Snow is predicted to continue throughout the day, along with heavy winds. Be prepared and know what to do before your power goes out.
- 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 at 4:50 p.m.
There’s quite the winter storm heading our way — the National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Watch for this weekend.
In its statement, the National Weather Service says:
“Potential life-threatening conditions expected Friday night into Saturday night. Travel is expected to be severely limited if not impossible during the height of the storm Friday night and Saturday.”
It’s time to prepare if you haven’t already begun.
This storm has the potential to be extremely disruptive to the whole region and the forecasts show it’s not our typical snow storm event.
Everyone needs to prepare and take this storm seriously. When talking about feet of snow rather than inches, major impacts are guaranteed.
Here’s what we recommend you consider as the storm approaches:
1.) Vulnerable Neighbors
Please check in now with elderly neighbors or other housebound people to ensure they have supplies (food, medicine, etc.). Please keep in touch with them during and after the storm, too. This is vitally important as the most vulnerable in our community could be impacted the most by this blizzard.
2.) Fire Hydrants
With feet of snow in the forecast, digging out fire hydrants will be critical to your neighborhood’s safety. Every second counts if there’s a fire. Make a note now of the nearest fire hydrant whether you’re in an urban setting such as Reston or Tysons, or in a suburban home in Springfield or Chantilly. We need you to adopt fire hydrants and clear them. Here’s how:
3.) Get Supplies
Of course, the proverbial bread, milk and toilet paper are flying off the shelves around the county. Other recommendations:
- Withdraw some cash if you don’t normally carry any just in case of power outages.
- If you drive, fill your car with gas before the snow starts flying on Friday.
- Buy batteries for flashlights. If your power goes out, do not use candles. Know how to contact Dominion or NOVEC if you lose power.
- More supply ideas.
4.) Road Snow Removal
The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on most county roads. When the snow starts, you can track the status of plowing in your neighborhood.
5.) Neighborhood Snow Removal
One of the best ways to make sure that walkways and well-traveled paths in your area are cleared of snow is to work as a community to plan in advance. Reach out to your neighbors and talk about who is able to pitch in to help out. 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.
And this snow removal will take days of work, especially to help clear sidewalks for school next week.
Some things to consider when working out your snow removal plans:
- What areas are priority for clearing to keep your neighborhood and residents safe?
- Volunteer to use/share equipment you may have such as small snow blowers for a community removal effort
- Shovel snow into the yard instead of into the street to minimize the problem of the snowplow covering your driveway with snow after you’ve just shoveled it (though with these predicted snow amounts, expect the end of your driveway to be covered a couple of times over).
- Do some neighbors need assistance in clearing their walkways (due to age, health conditions, disability, etc.)?
- Consider your health condition. If there is any reason that shoveling snow might be dangerous for you, such as a heart condition, consult your doctor before shoveling.
- If neighbors are on vacation (lucky them!), can someone chip in and help out so the whole community is safe?
- Keep the openings of storm drains clear of snow and debris to help alleviate potential flooding.
- Make sure that all parking spots identified as accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities are cleared of snow.
6.) Stay Informed
We have many ways you can choose to stay informed:
- Snow Update Hub: Check out this page for continuous updates from key sources such as the county, National Weather Service, VDOT and many more.
- Emergency Information Blog will feature status updates, safety tips and more.
- Follow us directly on Twitter at @fairfaxcounty
- If you’re on Facebook, we’ll post key updates on our page.
- Fairfax Alerts for important weather updates by email or text.
- More ways to stay informed.
Posted at 12:05 p.m.
As winter temperatures have finally arrived in Fairfax County, many of us now turn our attention to the perils that Old Man Winter can bring, such as extremely cold temperatures, snow, ice and freezing rain and even the loss of electricity.
Before we start sharing in-depth and specific information about the possible major winter storm this weekend, the American Red Cross recently published a list of winter safety tips to help you safely weather the cold.
In Your House
- If there’s a power outage, go to a designated public shelter to stay warm. Fairfax County has official warming centers available during regular business hours.
- Keep your thermostat at the same setting day and night.
- Bring pets indoors. If that’s not possible, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
- Run water, even at a trickle, to help stop pipes from freezing. Keep garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage
- Before taking on tasks such as shoveling snow, consider your physical condition.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
- Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
- Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.
- Dressing in several layers of lightweight clothing keeps someone warmer than a single heavy coat.
- Mittens provide more warmth to the hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers the ears.
- Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain one’s footing in ice and snow.
Remember, when temperatures drop and winter storms roll in, check on your elderly neighbors and help those who may need special assistance, including people with disabilities and children. And if you see someone at night who is unsheltered and you think could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county’s non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
Thanks to the American Red Cross for allowing us to repost this information.
Learn more about winter storm preparedness at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm and www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards/winter-storm-snow-cold.htm.
Posted at 1 p.m.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a wind advisory from 4 p.m. to midnight EST tonight. A wind advisory means that wind gusts around 50 mph are expected.
The strongest wind gusts will be between 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., with westerly winds at 20-30 mph with gusts around 50 mph.
Scattered trees and power line damage is possible due to the high winds. Drivers will also have difficulty with the winds, especially those driving high profile vehicles such as SUVs and trucks.
Please secure outdoor furniture and other objects that could become projectiles. Also take care driving high profile vehicles.
In addition to the winds, temperatures are forecast to be around 19°F, which means it will be extremely dangerous for anyone outside for extended periods of time. If you see an unsheltered person who might need hypothermia help, please call 703-691-2131.
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
Are you prepared for the winter? Check out this short video with tips about how to be ready for what the season may bring.
No matter the predictions, a significant winter storm is always possible. With an El Niño weather pattern this season, there could be a wetter than normal winter since El Niño winters can be snowier if atmospheric conditions are right.
Learn more about winter weather preparedness and take the steps to ensure that you and your family are ready for anything Old Man Winter might bring!
Posted at 11 a.m.
Even though it’s a little cool today, it really doesn’t feel like it’s winter. But it is! In fact today, Tuesday, Dec. 22, is the first day of winter.
We’ve had a mild November and December so far, but whether or not we like freezing temperatures, snow and ice, we’re most likely going to experience these conditions sometime over the next couple of months. So what can you do now to be ready for Old Man Winter? The Weather Channel put together a list of 22 things to avoid as you prepare for winter, including:
- Failing to Clean the Gutters Before Freezing Weather Arrives. Cleaning gutters is important when protecting and preparing your home for the winter months. Gutters help keep icicles from forming along the roofline. Icicles may damage shingles, which can cause water to leak into your home.
- Going to Bed Before Heating Sources Have Cooled. Before you go to bed or leave the house, ensure that space heaters have cooled and are powered off. If you have built a fire in the fireplace, be sure that the embers are no longer burning.
- Forgetting to Develop a Fire Escape Plan. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the risk of home fires increases with the use of alternative heating sources, so it’s important to develop and rehearse an escape plan.
Ready.gov also has useful information, including tips on winterizing your vehicle and home, updating your emergency supply kits and a list of snow terms you’ll want to be familiar with before the weather gets bad. Visit www.ready.gov/winter-weather and click on the “before winter storms and extreme cold” link.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has several checklists to follow so that you’ll have what you need at home, work and in your car in case of extreme cold this winter. In addition, check out the Infographic below for more advice on what you can do now to prepare.
- Bookmark our weather page so you’ll have the latest forecast when you need it.
- Find useful information and other helpful links on our winter storm, snow and cold information page.
- For the most current winter weather conditions and predictions, visit the local Weather Service winter weather Web page.
- See the locations of county warming centers.
- Learn what to do to keep your pet(s) safe this winter.
- Find out how to report power outages and stay safe during electrical outages.
Finally, when inclement weather arrives, please remember to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad!
Posted at 11:30 a.m.
We’ve had a couple of mornings recently with pretty dense fog, which can make the morning commute difficult. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), fog contributes to numerous travel accidents each year because it restricts drivers’ visibility.
If you must drive in foggy conditions, follow these safety tips from:
- Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or changes in the traffic pattern.
- Always keep your low-beam headlights on, even during the day. Use fog lights if you have them.
When necessary, NWS issues two types of fog advisories — a dense fog advisory, like the one we had this morning — and a freezing fog advisory.
- A Dense Fog Advisory is issued when widespread dense fog develops. When this happens, visibilities frequently drop to one-quarter of a mile or less. These conditions make travel difficult. Take extra caution when on the road or avoid driving if possible.
- A Freezing Fog Advisory is issued when fog develops and surface temperatures are at or below freezing. The tiny liquid droplets in the fog can freeze instantly to any surface, including vehicles and road surfaces. Freezing fog makes driving, boating, flying and other forms of transportation particularly hazardous. Visibilities are typically at or below 1 mile.
When fog and other weather conditions are present, please remember to allow some extra driving time. Arrive alive! And be sure to sign up for weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts so you’ll be in the know before you go about bad weather conditions.
Posted at 1 p.m.
This week, Nov. 29 through Dec. 5, is Winter Preparedness Week in Virginia as proclaimed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Even though really cold winter temperatures have yet to arrive, the week serves as a good reminder to prepare now before severe weather does arrive.
Virginia could get a wetter-than-average and colder-than-average winter, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS has predicted above-median precipitation amounts for December, January and February for the commonwealth due to a strong El Niño effect. NWS also predicts that temperatures might be slightly below median levels.
“No matter what the predictions are, a significant winter storm is always possible,” said state emergency management coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern. “You can reduce the risk of loss of life and property during the winter months by taking measures before severe weather arrives, and follow the proper steps during and after winter storms.”
An important part of winter weather planning is being prepared to stay where you are until conditions improve. To be ready, take these steps:
Get a Kit
Basic emergency supplies include:
Food and water for three days (one gallon of water per person per day).
A battery-powered and/or hand-cranked radio with extra batteries.
For businesses and offices, bottled water, protein bars and a radio or TV to hear local information about whether it is safe to travel.
A power pack for recharging cellphones and other mobile devices.
Make a Plan
Everyone needs an emergency plan:
Decide who your out-of-town emergency contact will be.
Where will you meet up with family members if you can’t return home?
Make your family emergency plan online at www.ReadyNOVA.org.
Before, during and after a winter storm, you should:
Listen to local media for information and instructions from emergency officials.
Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions.
Get where you need to go before the weather gets bad.
Get road condition information 24/7 by calling 511 or checking www.511Virginia.org.
Winter weather can mean snow and ice, treacherous roads and driving conditions, loss of electricity and other issues. Fairfax County’s Emergency Management Coordinator Dave McKernan encourages residents to take time now to prepare for the hazards that accompany Old Man Winter.
“There may be leaves on the ground now and not snow,” says McKernan, “but we all know that sooner or later we will see snow in our area. Take advantage of the relatively mild temperatures this week and winterize your home and vehicles, and make sure that you have prepared your family for the possibilities of severe cold temperatures, snow and ice.”
Learn more about winter weather preparedness on our winter storms, snow and cold Web page.