(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 11:50 a.m.
Summer is here, which means school is out, pools are open and baseball season is in full swing. Unfortunately, the summer months also bring higher possibilities for thunderstorms and other severe weather.
Although thunderstorms can occur any time of year, they are much more common during the summer, especially in the late afternoon hours. Besides just ruining your barbecue or golf outing, thunderstorms pose a real danger. In fact, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management reports that lightning kills over 60 people and injures over 400 more each year in the U.S. They can also develop very quickly — sometimes in less than 30 minutes — and with little warning, making it difficult to plan ahead and prepare.
The next time you see dark clouds rolling in over your picnic, party or day at the pool, remember these tips for staying safe during a summer storm.
- Everyone knows to avoid open areas during a thunderstorm, but did you know that taking shelter under a tree is more dangerous? In Virginia, more deaths and injuries were reported from lightning strikes under trees than in open space from 1959-2000. When it’s raining hard our natural instinct is to find shelter, but unless you can get inside a building or car, you’d be better off in the rain than under a tree.
- If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning. This means you need to take caution even if you feel like the storm has nearly passed, as lightning can still strike up to 15 miles from the center of the storm.
- Contrary to popular belief, lying down in a thunderstorm is not a safe practice. The idea is that by getting as low as possible one might lessen their chances of being struck. In reality, by increasing the amount of the ground’s surface you are covering, you are actually much more likely to be struck.
- Getting inside is a great first step, but be sure to avoid plumbing, like baths, sinks and faucets, and electrical equipment, like phones and computers, as well as windows, porches and concrete floors and walls.
- In the event that someone is struck by lightning, medical attention will likely be needed immediately. Once medical assistance has been called try to move the victim to a safe place. Don’t worry about touching a victim of a lightning strike; they won’t hold a charge. There is a chance that the victim’s heart or breathing may have stopped as a result of the strike, in which case CPR or AED will be needed.
The warm, humid conditions of summer are a perfect recipe for thunderstorms. Keep these tips in mind for a fun, safe summer, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.
For more information on thunderstorm and lightning safety, visit our emergency information page or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s thunderstorm basics Web page or the National Weather Service lightning safety Web page.
Posted at 12:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Fairfax County and portions of the National Capital Region for this afternoon and evening, with thunderstorms likely late this afternoon and evening. According to the outlook, a few of the thunderstorms may become severe with a threat of damaging wind gusts, large hail and an isolated tornado.
Our Office of Emergency Management has been in contact with the local National Weather Service office, which predicts the severe weather will move into our area between 4-6 p.m.
New Severe Thunderstorm Risk Categories
To help us better understand thunderstorms — like today’s risk — the Storm Prediction Center has worked closely with National Weather Service (NWS) offices, social scientists, communication specialists, FEMA, forecasters and the general public, to arrive at a new five-category description of severe thunderstorm risks.
Learn more about severe weather at www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/about.html#Severe.
In addition, remember to sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts, which can be sent to multiple email accounts as well as your cellphone(s).
Posted at 8:14 a.m.
Due to unsafe road conditions, Fairfax County trash and recycling collection in sanitary districts (15 percent of county households) on Thursday and Friday collection routes have been suspended for today, Friday, March 6.
Thursday and Friday collection customers will receive trash and recycling collection on Saturday, March 7, weather and road conditions permitting. Please make sure trash and recycling carts are accessible and not blocked in by snow to ensure collection.
You can check the trash/recycling county customer website for updated service information.
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 at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/trash/disphaulers.htm.
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.
Posted at 5:05 p.m.
Road conditions remain treacherous around the region this afternoon and there are multiple road closures throughout the county. Fairfax County 9-1-1 has received calls from drivers asking about abandoning their vehicles. These vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. If you can safely move your vehicle out of travel lanes you can call a tow truck to get the vehicle home; any vehicle left for more than 12 hours or deemed a road hazard by the police will be towed.
Abandoned vehicles may also contribute to accidents and the owner will be ticketed in this event. Exiting your vehicle puts you and other drivers in danger. If your vehicle is stuck and you are in danger, call 9-1-1, but otherwise you should have it towed.
Please remain off the roads if possible. Visibility is limited, temperatures are dropping and conditions are further deteriorating.
More than 3,800 trucks continue to plow roads in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties according to VDOT. Staying off the roads allows crews to work safely. Crews are spreading salt and abrasives, as appropriate, concentrating their response efforts on the most heavily traveled routes. VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a storm ends. This storm; however, may deliver a second punch as temperatures drop to record levels and icy conditions remain likely into Friday.