Tropical storm may hit Fairfax County this weekend, bringing heavy rain and winds

Tropical Storm Ophelia is expected to bring rain and wind to Northern Virginia this weekend (via National Weather Service)

Updated at 4:05 p.m. — A Coastal Flood Advisory issued for parts of Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, will now take effect at midnight, earlier than initially anticipated, the National Weather Service says.

Earlier: It’s going to be a cold and rainy weekend in Fairfax County, thanks to Tropical Storm Ophelia.

Tracking to make landfall in North Carolina today (Friday), the storm is expected to reach Northern Virginia tonight with “heavy rain, high winds, and cool temperatures” continuing into Sunday (Sept. 24) morning, according to the Fairfax County Department of Emergency Management.

“Locally, [the National Weather Service] expects 2-4 inches of rain throughout the weekend,” the county said in a post on its emergency information blog. “Since the precipitation will be spread across the weekend, flooding is not a major concern but could cause some localized flooding issues. Wind speeds will gradually increase, peaking around 40 mph on Saturday.”

The storm has already affected some major events, prompting cancellations of the popular Reston Multicultural Festival, the inaugural Fairfax Fiesta in Tysons and a kick-off for National Public Lands Day in Annandale. Other events, like Fairfax City’s Fiesta Fairfax, have been relocated indoors.

The NWS has issued a Coastal Flood Advisory and a Wind Advisory for much of the D.C. area, including Fairfax County.

The flood advisory will be in effect from noon tomorrow (Saturday) to 5 a.m. Sunday:

* WHAT…Up to one half foot of inundation above ground level expected in low lying areas due to tidal flooding.

* WHERE…Fairfax, Stafford and Central and Southeast Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park Counties.

* WHEN…From noon Saturday to 5 AM EDT Sunday, especially around the time of high tide.

* IMPACTS…Flooding of lots, parks, and roads with only isolated road closures expected.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Tides one and a half to two feet above normal. The worst flooding will occur with the Saturday afternoon and Saturday night high tides.

The Wind Advisory will take effect at 8 a.m. tomorrow and last until 8 p.m., warning that northeast winds could reach 20 to 30 mph with up to 45-mph gusts. The NWS notes that the “gusty winds” could blow around objects and result in power outages.

“The combination of a long period of gusty winds and increasingly saturated grounds from rain will result in a higher likelihood for downed trees across the area,” the NWS said.

In anticipation of the severe weather, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has declared a State of Emergency, activating the Commonwealth’s emergency operations plan and putting the National Guard on alert.

The Virginia State Police says residents should avoid driving during the storm “to prevent unnecessary traffic crashes from occurring on Virginia’s highways,” advising that those who do travel should slow down, turn around if they encounter standing water, buckle up and check that their vehicle is in good condition.

Virginia Department of Transportation crews have been inspecting and clearing drainage facilities and preparing equipment in advance of the storm, according to a news release.

“VDOT crews stand ready to respond to any unsafe travel conditions and any damage resulting from the storm,” the department said.

Metro says it is monitoring conditions, including by placing sandbags in areas prone to flooding.

“Customers are encouraged to stay safe during inclement weather,” the transit agency said. “Downed trees and flying debris may create hazards, and slippery conditions are expected on roads, walkways, and in stations. Please use caution, avoid rushing for trains or buses, use handrails for stability, and allow additional travel time this weekend. Consider postponing unnecessary travel during periods of high winds and heavy rain.”