Posted at 10 a.m.
The first snow of the season is predicted this weekend, and with that expectation of snow, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory in effect from midnight tonight until 4 p.m. Saturday.
A winter weather advisory means periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving. The latest road conditions can be obtained by calling 511 or you can visit www.511virginia.org/.
Be sure to sign up for Fairfax Alerts to receive severe weather updates. And to make sure you and your family are as prepared as possible for whatever this weekend’s snow — and this winter’s weather — may throw our way, be sure to read and bookmark our Winter Weather Guide that features some of the more frequently asked issues about winter in Fairfax County.
Posted at 11:30 a.m.
The long, cold winter nights are upon us. Imagine spending the night sleeping outside. For those experiencing homelessness in our county this is a frightening and potentially life-threatening reality.
To help ensure no one has to sleep outside during the winter months, a collaborative effort by the county, nonprofits and faith communities created the Hypothermia Prevention Program more than a decade ago. Last winter, the program provided more than 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in our county with a warm, safe place to sleep and a healthy meal.
Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.
If you see someone at night who is unsheltered and you think he or she could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county’s non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131.
NewsCenter has more on the hypothermia prevention program and other county news and event information.
NOAA Forecasters Predict Cooler, Wetter North and Warmer, Drier South
Posted at 11 a.m.
Yesterday, the forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center released the U.S. Winter Outlook, with La Niña potentially emerging for the second year in a row as the biggest wildcard in how this year’s winter will shape up.
“If La Niña conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
“Typical La Niña patterns during winter include above average precipitation and colder than average temperatures along the Northern Tier of the U.S. and below normal precipitation and drier conditions across the South.”
In this video, Halpert explains the 2017-18 winter outlook.
NOAA’s seasonal outlooks give the likelihood that temperature and precipitation will be above-, near, or below-average, and also how drought is expected to change, but do not project seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance because they depend upon the strength and track of winter storms.
The U.S. Winter Outlook will be updated on Nov. 16.
Be Ready For Any Weather
Whether it’s a warmer, drier winter or a colder, wetter one with lots of snow, you and your family need to be prepared.
The first thing to do is sign up for our free severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts. You can also get severe traffic alerts and other notifications.
Next, make sure your family has an emergency supply kit at home and that you have emergency kits at work and in every vehicle. Learn how to make your kit and what supplies you need to have.
Prepare now and be ready for whatever “Old Man Winter” throws at us this year!
Posted at 3:15 p.m.
Never does our compassion and generosity become more evident than following a major disaster, as evidenced by the outpouring of concern and desire to do something for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Numerous nonprofits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners and governmental agencies are working together to most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of Harvey.
But many are wondering what they can individually do to assist? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there’s one thing you can do and one thing you should not do. In addition, there’s guidance if you’re considering going to Texas to volunteer.
Cash Donations are Best
Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.
Do Not Donate Unsolicited Items
Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine or perishable foodstuffs at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Texas and federal officials are also asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey will create an additional burden for first responders. The National Volunteers Active in Disaster (VOAD) also noted the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.
To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification. At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground.
Our NewsCenter has more information and tips on how you can assist, including the warning signs of charity fraud. The Federal Trade Commission has details on how you can give safely.
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.