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Severe Thunderstorms, High Winds in the Forecast; Could Bring Possible Power Outages

Posted at 9:30 a.m.

The National Weather Service (NWS) and county emergency management officials are monitoring the progress of a powerful cold front that is forecast to affect our area this afternoon. With temperatures rising to near 80 degrees there will be an unusual amount of heat energy available for this time of the year to fuel thunderstorms as the cold front passes. The primary threat will be high winds and related power outages. In addition, isolated thunderstorm cells could also bring us hail and wind gusts to 40 mph or greater.

NWS reports scattered severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail are possible this afternoon and evening. The most likely time for severe thunderstorms is between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m.

If you aren’t yet registered for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts, you may want to sign up. You can receive alerts via text and email.

Weather Forecast

weather forecast March 1, 2017

Today: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 77. Breezy, with a southwest wind 15 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms, mainly between 7 p.m. and midnight. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds. Low around 44. Breezy, with a southwest wind 21 to 25 mph becoming west after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 38 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 51. Breezy, with a northwest wind 16 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph.

 

Wind Advisory in Effect Until 7 p.m.

Posted at 1:40 p.m.

A National Weather Service wind advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. this evening. A wind advisory means that winds of 45 to 55 mph are expected. Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.

East winds 25 mph, with gusts to 45 mph, are expected through early evening tonight. These strong winds may blow down limbs, trees and power lines. Scattered power outages are to be expected.

Our fire and rescue department reports that from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, units have already responded to 21 calls for reports of downed power lines.

Downed power lines can be deadly. Always assume a downed power line is live and avoid going near it or anything in contact with it.

downed-and-dangerous-downed-power-line-safety

Graphic courtesy of the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).

 

 

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.