Sunday Blizzard Update: 5 Things to Know

Posted 9:25 a.m. / Updated 1:50 p.m.

(UPDATE: Government, Courts and Schools Closed Monday)

The blizzard is over!

The sun is out!

But the cleanup has just begun. The keyword of the day will be patience.

The historic storm has resulted in a challenging few days for Fairfax County residents and those working hard to keep the community safe. We ask that the community be patient. It will take several days for things to get back to normal and this will be a multi-day clean up. 

Here’s an update from our Emergency Operations Center this morning:


Here are a few things to know:

1.) Stay off the Roads

Please continue to stay off the roads. Major roads are still covered in snow, but now that the snow has stopped, the Virginia Department of Transportation can really make progress — and it would help greatly if you are off the roads. You can track VDOT snow plow progress online.

vdot cameras

Also, please don’t walk down the middle of streets as plows are out and about.


2.) Check on Neighbors

Call, text or check in on elderly or homebound neighbors. See if they need anything now that the blizzard has passed.


3.) Sidewalks

Yes, the great dig out in our neighborhoods begins!

It takes a whole community to shovel snow from sidewalks because your state and local governments simply don’t have the resources to clear sidewalks across the whole county.

While not legally obligated, we need your help to keep sidewalks safe by clearing snow in front of residential or business properties so that all pedestrians (especially school children), those with disabilities and the elderly, may walk safely. Our first responders need easy access, too.

Do what you can, take your time and don’t overexert yourself. There’s a lot of heavy snow to clear. Where should you clear?

7 Places to Shovel:

  1. The sidewalk in front of your home.
  2. The sidewalk in front of vacant homes or homes where residents are unable to shovel.
  3. Fire hydrants.
  4. Bus stops.
  5. Sidewalks/paths that lead to schools or community buildings.
  6. Bike trails.
  7. Stormdrains.


4.) Fire Hydrants

We have hundreds of fire hydrants in the county that need some TLC so we’re all safe. Every second counts if there’s a fire. We need you to adopt fire hydrants and dig them out.

We have a fire hydrant locator map as a reference guide to find ones near you.

Be like this guy:


5.) Clear Snow From Cars

When the roads are ready, you’ll want to break out of cabin fever. If you have a car, PLEASE make sure you clear all of the snow from atop your car.

Don’t be like this guy:


Stay Informed

We have many ways you can choose to stay informed as we dig out from this blizzard:


Video: Blizzard 2016 Saturday Evening Update

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.

County and Private Trash/Recycling Update

Posted 7:02 p.m.

To ensure the safety of trash truck drivers, Fairfax County has suspended the requirement for trash and recycling collection for the week of Jan. 25-30 for all collection companies operating in the county. This will provide the opportunity for workers to clear streets to allow travel to resume safely. Snow-covered roads make trash and recycling collection very difficult.

However, collection may resume before Jan. 30; it will depend on road conditions and your provider’s decision.

Residents should pull their containers away from the curb to allow snowplows to clean streets.


Dress for the Cold – Be Alert for Signs of Frostbite and Hypothermia

Posted 6:14 p.m.

We don’t need to tell you it’s really cold outside – temperatures are below freezing and with the wind it can be dangerous.

Here are tips from the Virginia Department of Health when you go outside:

  1.  Wear cold-weather clothing like gloves, hats, scarves and snow boots.
  2.  Remove any wet clothing immediately.
  3.  Limit your time outdoors.

Prolonged exposure to the cold can put you at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. Know the risk signs:

Symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately — call or text 9-1-1 If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas.

Make sure you are dressed for the cold:

  • Wear a hat (of course!)
  • A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth.
  • Sleeves that are snug at the wrist.
  • Mittens (they are warmer than gloves).
  • Water-resistant coat and boots.
  • Several layers of loose-fitting clothing.
  • Outer layer clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind.
  • Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.

Cold Weather and Health Info Sources:





P.M. Blizzard Update

Posted 3:45 p.m.

The blizzard is still here until around midnight.

Here are some things to know this afternoon/evening:


Shoveling? Watch These Videos To Save Your Back, Avoid Frustration

Posted 11:32 a.m.

Wow – there is a lot of snow out there (with still more to come)!  And that means a lot of snow to be shoveled

We know we will shovel all the snow and get it out of the way over the next few days, but let’s be safe.

RELATED: Take This Snow and Shovel it – Safely

infographic with snow shoveling tips.

Watch these videos for helpful tips to avoid injury and efficiently get that white stuff out of the way.


And here’s a snow shoveling “secret” from the Virginia Department of Transportation about removing snow at the end of driveways, which is often a point of frustration after storms.

Power Outage? Here’s What to Do


(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.

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.

Video: Blizzard 2016 Update – Continue to Stay Off Roads

Posted 8:40 p.m.

There are many Fairfax County employees working to keep you safe and informed this evening, including Deputy County Executive for Public Safety Dave Rohrer. Here’s an update from him on-site at the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center, urging everyone to stay home and feel safe knowing our team is working for you.


Take This Snow and Shovel It — Safely

Posted 5:25 p.m. /  Updated Jan. 23, 10:45 a.m.

It sure looks pretty, but the snow must be shoveled.

And we want you to be safe.

It may be very difficult to remove snow today with the high winds, so you may consider staying inside.

If you do venture out, here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

infographic with snow shoveling tips.

  1. Clear sidewalks in your neighborhood; team up and make a plan with neighbors.
  2. Every second counts, so please clear fire hydrants.
  3. If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attack, call or text 9-1-1 right away.
  4. If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s OK.
  5. If you have a driveway, shovel to the right as you’re facing the road. Leave the last few feet at the curb until the storm is over and the street is plowed.
  6. Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are usually inactive. Shovel small amounts of snow at a time. Push the snow instead of lifting where possible.
  7. Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keeping your back straight and lift with your legs.
  8. Avoid shoveling under snow-covered trees and roof lines due to possibly falling limbs, ice and snow.
  9. Dress in layers and wear warm clothing, especially in blizzard conditions.

Watch these videos for tips to save your back:

And the best way to shovel your driveway:

Best tip: get kids to help!

Young girls shoveling snow.

More information on our Take This Snow and Shovel It website.

Stay Informed

We have many ways you can choose to stay informed during this blizzard:

6 Digital Preparedness Tips To Get You Through the Blizzard

Posted 4:35 p.m.

In any emergency your smartphone and social media access can be a critical lifeline to keep you and your family informed and safe. Plan now to be digitally prepared in case of power outages or other unforeseen emergencies during this blizzard.


Info on how to be digitally prepared for the snowstorm.

Top 6 Digital Preparedness Tips:

  1. If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1 or text to 9-1-1.
    • For routine questions or non-emergency situations in Fairfax County, dial 703-691-2131 . To report road hazards or ask road-related question, 24/7, call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623 ).
  2. Tell your friends and family you are OK via text, email, Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
  3. Save important phone numbers to your phone.
  4. Keep your devices plugged in. Keep charged batteries and car-phone chargers available as back-up power for your cell phone.
  5. Conserve your mobile phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using that draw power. If you’ve lost power and can’t charge your device, resist streaming videos, downloading music or videos, or playing video games, all of which can drain your battery and add to network congestion.
  6. Get connected with us through these information sources:





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