Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills with snow on the roadway (via VDOT)

Roadways in Fairfax County are covered in snow after flurries first started to fall around 1 p.m. and local officials are warning drivers to continue to stay home.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has trucks working on major roadways, according to its snow plow map.

As previously advised, Virginia State Police spokesperson Shelby Crouch said to avoid travel today through tomorrow to allow VDOT crews to safely and effectively work.

“During the current winter storm impacting the Commonwealth, Virginia State Police troopers have responded to 369 traffic crashes and 282 disabled vehicles since 12:01 a.m. Sunday (Jan. 16) through 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 16),” Crouch said. “The majority of those crashes have involved only damage to vehicles. There have been no reported traffic fatalities during this time period.”

State police have responded to 36 disabled vehicles & 41 traffic crashes in Fairfax today.

Dominion Energy has not seen any power outages in Fairfax County as of publication, according to its outage map, but the company said it was monitoring the storm in Virginia and had crews ready to respond to any damage or power outages.

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang estimated there was about an inch of snow in the area as of 4:30 p.m.

By 5 p.m., Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills Road near Reston were blanketed with snow as it continued to fall. The National Weather Service predicts freezing rain will begin around 9 p.m., with a chance of 1 to 2 inches of new snow accumulation after that.

Here’s what the NWS says to expect through the evening:

Snow should overspread all of our region by 21Z with light to moderate snow likely for most of the region through the early parts of the evening. A warm layer aloft should start moving into our region at 850 mb this evening leading to transition from snow to a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain for areas east of I-81. Areas along the I-95 corridor should start transitioning first between 5 and 8 pm this evening, with the warm layer continuing to push westward with the transition shifting over the shenadoah Valley by the 6 to 9pm period. The I-95 corridor should become all rain by the 7 to 9pm period as temperatures rise above freezing with the all rain layer likely reaching as far west as areas just east of I-81. Our high temperatures for Monday may very well occur around midnight or early Monday morning due to the warming on-shore flow. I believe the Allegheny front should remain mainly snow with periods of sleet and freezing rain mixing in at times this evening and into early Monday morning. Precipitation is expected to start tapering off early Monday morning between midnight and 2am with snow likely to continue along the Allegheny front into Monday.

A strong low level easterly jet is expected to form late this evening and into Monday evening. Winds of 35 to 45 mph`s will be possible over our higher elevations with 25 to 35 knots possible else where. Continued light to moderate snow showers along the Allegheny front will combine with the strong winds to produce some near Blizzard like conditions along and west of the Allegheny Mtns. We have highlighted this threat in our WSW product. The overnight
gusty winds should taper off by daybreak but gusts of 20 to 25 mph should continue into Monday morning.

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Another winter storm is brewing, potentially bringing 3 to 4 inches of snow to Fairfax County on Sunday and Monday (Jan. 16-17).

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County. The alert will take effect at 1 p.m. on Sunday and last through 7 a.m. Monday, when the snow is  expected to turn into a wintry mix with sleet and freezing rain.

The NWS projects total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches as the most likely scenario, though up to 5 inches could be possible. The forecast also includes up to an one-tenth of an inch of ice accumulation and wind gusts that could reach 45 miles per hour.

“Snow may fall at 1 to 3 inches per hour late Sunday afternoon and early Sunday evening, resulting in
nearly impassable roads,” the alert says, warning that slippery and hazardous road conditions could affect Monday’s commute.

Preparations for the coming storm are underway, with the Virginia Department of Transportation treating roads throughout Northern Virginia today.

“Since dry conditions are expected, we are able to brine throughout Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties,” VDOT spokesperson Kathleen Leonard told FFXnow. “Drivers will start to see those white brine lines, which really just gives us a little bit of time at the beginning of the storm, preventing ice from bonding to the pavement.”

Leonard says snow trucks will be staged tomorrow (Saturday) so that plowing operations can begin once the area gets about two inches of snow.

Gov. Ralph Northam, who will be officially succeeded by Glenn Youngkin tomorrow, declared a state of emergency today in anticipation of the storm.

“Declaring a state of emergency now allows our emergency responders to prepare, and to move supplies and equipment where they expect to need them the most,” Northam said. “This also gives Governor-elect Youngkin the ability to respond to any storm needs swiftly. I urge Virginians to take this storm seriously and make preparations now.”

VDOT and the Virginia State Police are both advising people to avoid traveling during the storm, though the police agency says all available troopers will be on patrol to respond to crashes and disabled drivers.

While schools will be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Fairfax County Public Schools says students and staff should bring their computers home today in case a snow day is needed next week.

Any snow days will include virtual learning, because the school system already used its five designated “traditional” snow days after a snowstorm slammed the D.C. region last week, disrupting transportation and power networks.

Dropping up to 3 inches of snow per hour, Winter Storm Frida affected 58,000 miles of roadway across Virginia and took out electricity for approximately 500,000 households, according to VDOT, which is part of a multi-agency review of the state’s response after hundreds of motorists were stranded for hours on I-95.

In Fairfax County, snowfall totals on Jan. 3 ranged from 4.5 inches in Herndon to 11.8 inches in Franconia.

Photo via National Weather Service

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(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) Up to 5 more inches of snow could come to Fairfax County and nearby areas.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory, warning that an additional 2 to 4 inches of snow is forecast to come between 9 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) and 5 a.m. Friday (Jan. 7). It said drivers should expect slippery road conditions.

A winter weather advisory means that hazardous weather is “occurring, imminent or likely.”

The chaotic weather comes after over more than a half foot of snow fell across the county on Monday (Jan. 3), causing crashes and shutting down services, roads and power.

Per the alert:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 9 PM THURSDAY TO 5 AM
EST FRIDAY…

* WHAT…Snow. Total snow accumulations 2 to 4 inches. Isolated high amounts of around 5 inches are possible.

* WHERE…The District of Columbia, portions of northern and central Maryland, and northern Virginia.

* WHEN…From 9 PM Thursday to 5 AM EST Friday.

* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the Friday morning commute.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…The heaviest snow is expected between 10 PM and 2 AM when snowfall rates of 1 inch per hour are possible.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Slow down and use caution while traveling.

When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury.

Fairfax County Public Schools announced just after 5 p.m. that classes will be canceled again. Students were scheduled to return from winter break on Monday, but it has now been extended four extra days.

“Across Fairfax County, we continue to receive reports of roadways, sidewalks and pathways that remain unsafe for our students, and so we are closing schools out of an abundance of caution, and the concern for safety of our students,” FCPS said on social media.

Unlike with previous cancellations, the school system says its COVID-19 testing sites will all be open for students and staff experiencing symptoms. Plans to resume meal kit distributions are also move forward.

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A snowplow on Legato Road at the intersection of West Ox Road near the Fair Oaks Mall (Photo by Benita Mwali)

(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) Local students will get another day of winter break, thanks to the snow that has inundated Fairfax County and the rest of the D.C. region.

Fairfax County Public Schools announced at 1:17 p.m. that classes have been canceled tomorrow (Tuesday), delaying the return of students for a second consecutive day. There will be no virtual or in-person learning, and all activities on school grounds have been canceled.

In the meantime, the snow has wreaked havoc on people’s travel plans and the county’s power grid.

Drivers faced delays, both by choice and by nature, where even some pickup trucks and emergency vehicles struggled as a snowstorm forced widespread shutdowns from schools to offices and roadways.

At least nine roads in the county were closed due to snow and ice or downed trees and wires, as of 1:50 p.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department. Major roads affected include Richmond Highway near Huntley Meadows Park and Prosperity Avenue in Mantua.

As of 12:30 p.m., the Virginia State Police had responded to 559 traffic crashes and 522 disabled vehicles across the state since midnight.

Fairfax Connector bus service has been suspended since 11:45 a.m. with no updates on when it might resume.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported that firefighters and paramedics have spent all morning responding to reports of downed wires and trees, which have created potentially dangerous conditions while taking out power for around 40,000 Dominion Energy customers.

Downed power lines and trees can be reported to 9-1-1, Dominion Energy and NOVEC, or the Virginia Department of Transportation, depending on the severity of the situation and where the incident occurs.

The snow storm, transforming much of the region even before morning commutes, caught some people off guard after temperatures reached the low 60s yesterday (Sunday).

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Updated at 12:25 p.m. — Firefighters are warning about dangerous conditions and fire due to downed wires as power company workers respond.

Fairfax Connector has suspended bus service due to the “deteriorating road conditions” caused by the ongoing snowstorm. Buses currently in operation will complete their routes. 

Earlier: Fairfax County’s first snow of the season started falling early this morning (Monday) and has kept up a steady pace ever since, making roads hazardous while closing schools and many office jobs.

Heavy snow is expected with 5 to 10 inches accumulating, according to an updated National Weather Service winter storm warning for Fairfax County and much of the D.C. region that began at 1 a.m. and will continue through 4 p.m.

The heaviest amounts are projected to fall near and south of Route 50, with heavier snow running through the early afternoon, the NWS predicted.

“State plows are now on the roads,” Fairfax County said around 8:50 a.m. on Twitter. “If you’re out driving, please give them space.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation now has a website that allows users to track the progress of its snow plows.

As of 8 a.m. Virginia State Police responded to 82 traffic crashes across the Commonwealth and advised people to stay off roads.

“No injuries, just stuck/damaged vehicles caused by folks going too fast for conditions,” VSP said on Twitter.

The Fairfax County Police Department reported that several roads had been closed due to snow as of 11:30 a.m., including:

A resident reported around 8:40 a.m. that several vehicles were stuck on Richmond Highway in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.

Federal and local government offices have been closed for the day. The Fairfax County government closures include the courts, all Park Authority facilities and programs, and COVID-19 vaccination sites.

After announcing last night (Sunday) that schools would be closed to students with no virtual learning, Fairfax County Public Schools expanded its closure this morning to include all offices and COVID-19 testing sites.

The snow is affecting transit as well as drivers. While trains are currently operating as usual, Metro has now suspended bus service “due to rapidly deteriorating weather and hazardous road conditions throughout the region.”

“All buses currently in operation with customers will operate to the end of the line to complete their routes if safe to do so,” the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said. “All other buses will hold at stops until roads are passable and safe to resume service.”

Metrorail remains in operation. De-icer trains and heaters have been deployed in an effort to keep rail lines free of snow and ice.

“Metro customers should allow additional travel time and use caution on platforms, escalators, parking lots and other areas that may be slippery,” WMATA said in a news release last night. “Metro will have plows and equipment deployed throughout the system to clear and treat parking lots, walkways and platforms.”

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Fairfax County could be hit by wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour this weekend, courtesy of stormy weather that could pass through the D.C. region ahead of an expected cold front.

A Wind Advisory has been issued for the area, starting at 4 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) and continuing until 1 a.m. Sunday (Dec. 12).

The National Weather Service says to prepare for west winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour, with gusts that could reach up to 55 miles per hour. The highest wind speeds are expected to come between 6 p.m. and midnight.

“Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects,” the NWS said in its alert. “Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.”

According to the Capital Weather Gang, the high winds will contribute to a rise in temperatures, which current forecasts indicate could hit an unseasonable high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday even with a 70% chance of precipitation during the day.

Temperatures are expected to drop back into the 40s on Sunday.

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Fairfax County is under a Flash Flood Watch area for Oct. 25, 2021 (via Fairfax Alerts)

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for much of the D.C. area, including Fairfax County.

In effect until 2 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday), the alert says showers and thunderstorms could bring up to 4 inches of rain in some areas, potentially leading to rapidly rising stream and creek waters.

The full alert is below:

…FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT UNTIL 2 AM EDT TUESDAY…

The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a

* Flash Flood Watch for portions of DC, Maryland and northern Virginia, including the following areas: in DC, District of Columbia. In Maryland, Anne Arundel, Central and Southeast Howard, Central and Southeast Montgomery, Prince Georges and Southern Baltimore. In northern Virginia, Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria and Fairfax.

* Until 2 AM EDT Tuesday.

* Showers and thunderstorms are expected to produce 1 to 2 inches of rain through this evening, with localized amounts of up to 4 inches possible. Heavy rain in a short amount of time may result in rapid rises of water on small creeks and streams and in urban areas.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is also in effect for Reston and Herndon until 6:30 p.m., with the NWS warning of 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that could produce power outages and downed trees.

“At 544 PM EDT, severe thunderstorms were located along a line extending from South Riding to Herndon to Wolf Trap, moving northeast at 50 mph,” the agency said.

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Lightning (via Breno Machado/Unsplash)

(Updated at 7:20 a.m.) A transformer blowing out? A meteor? Or just really loud thunder?

A big boom was reported across a wide swath of Fairfax County from Reston and Herndon to McLean around 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday, leaving many residents confused regarding the possible source.

The sound was likely caused by loud thunder that accompanied a storm that was crossing the area at the time. 

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported that it dispatched units to the 13000 block of Woodland Park Road in Reston at approximately 10:59 a.m. after a building there was struck by lightning.

One McLean resident told FFXnow by email that she heard “a loud boom/explosion that did not sound like thunder” around about 10:35 a.m.

“We are on Brook Rd between Rt 7 and Old Dominion Dr.,” Diane Van Tuyl wrote. “My friend in Great Falls on Towlston Rd also heard it. She felt rumbling and some shaking.”

Other residents took to social media to share their bafflement regarding the possible source of the sound, which one user compared to a concussion grenade:

Last week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said a similar boom heard through the greater Shenandoah County region was a fireball

This time, meteorologists with the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang say they’re reasonably confident it was a particularly powerful lightning strike that happened during atmospheric conditions that allowed it to be heard from miles away.

Photo via Breno Machado/Unsplash

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