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Wind Advisory and Extreme Cold Temperatures Tonight

Posted at 1 p.m.

Wind Advisory

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.

Prepare for Possible Power Outages

(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.

Plan Ahead

  • 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.
    • Dominion Virginia Power: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; view outage map
    • Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC): 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711; view outage reports
  • 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

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:

power-outage-food-infographic

 

If a Tree Falls: What to Do and Who to Call

(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

  1. Get everyone safely out of your house. Use your cellphone or go to a neighbor’s house and call 9-1-1.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.

More Severe Weather in the Forecast Today, Thursday, July 9

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.

McKernan adds that you can stay informed of severe weather and road closures by signing up for Fairfax Alerts.

 

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.

 

What Happens if You Lose Power

Posted at 8:10 p.m.

Our emergency operations center is staffed this evening and we’ve been noticing a slow, but steady rise in the number of electrical meters being reported out at both Dominion Virginia Power (report outages to 1-866-DOM-HELP [366-4357]) and Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (report outages at 1-888-335-0500).

The snow is expected to taper off soon — but winds are expected to pick up and sustain intensity overnight — and more outages and downed trees and power lines should be expected.

What happens if you do lose power tonight? Perhaps the better question is what not to do:flashlight

  • Use a flashlight only for emergency lighting. Never use candles.
  • When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal ­burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate the unit(s) away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

In addition:

  • Unplug electrical equipment. Spikes and surges could occur as power is restored, damaging equipment.
  • While you have electricity, be sure to charge any batteries you need to run portable electronic devices (such as cellphones) that you use regularly.
  • Make sure that your disaster supply kit is complete and that it 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.

You may also want to do some pre-planning for options should you and your family lose power late tonight — or even overnight. Are there friends you could stay with? Why not go ahead and reach out and check … just in case.

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