Winter is coming, and with temperatures projected to top out in the 30s and low 40s next week, staying warm will soon become even more of a challenge for many Fairfax County residents.
To help those in need get through the season, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s office will launch a winter clothes drive today (Monday), collecting coats, gloves and hats of all sizes for donation to local shelters.
New and gently used items are being accepted until Jan. 19 at the Providence District Office (3001 Vaden Drive), which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. A flyer says additional drop-off locations will be shared, but as of press time, the office was still waiting to confirm the other sites, including one at Tysons Corner Center.
“Holding donation drives is an opportunity for people to get involved and give back to the community,” Palchik said in an emailed statement. “What some may deem as a small donation is a big help to those in need. The collected winter gear will be donated not only to our unsheltered community members but also those who may not be able to afford them.”
For the drive, Palchik’s office has teamed up with the Providence Community Center, local homeowners’ associations, and the Tysons Community Alliance, which was formed in October to replace the Tysons Partnership as a nonprofit organization that advocates for the area and guides its evolution.
Recipients of the winter clothing donations will include The Lamb Center, a shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness located on the border of Oakton and Fairfax, and Tysons-based Second Story, which focuses on helping kids, teens and families.
While this drive will support Providence District residents, including Tysons, Oakton, Merrifield and the area around Fairfax, the North County Government Center will host a final drop-off date for Reston’s annual Winter Coat Closet on Jan. 14.
Photo via Eli Pluma/Unsplash
Updated at 8:05 p.m. — Fairfax County Public Schools will open two hours late tomorrow in response to the anticipated inclement weather.
Earlier: Fairfax County may get its first serious taste of winter weather for the season overnight.
The NWS initially forecast that the anticipated freezing rain and ice could begin at 10 p.m. today but later revised the time frame.
“Wintry precipitation begins overnight and continues into Thursday morning,” the NWS said. “Warmer air should push in later Thursday morning into Thursday afternoon changing the precipitation to rain.”
More from the alert:
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM TO 1 PM EST THURSDAY…
* WHAT…Freezing rain expected. Total ice accumulations of a glaze to around one tenth of an inch. Highest ice amounts will be in the northern and western suburbs of Washington and Baltimore.
* WHERE…The Washington and Baltimore Metropolitan areas including the city of Baltimore and the District of Columbia as well as northeastern and central Maryland.
* WHEN…From 1 AM to 1 PM EST Thursday.
* IMPACTS…Difficult travel conditions are possible. The hazardous conditions will likely impact the morning commute on Thursday.
The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department warns that the rain could affect tomorrow’s morning commute, and Fairfax Connector says it will be monitoring the potential storm, advising that riders watch out for slippery or icy sidewalks.
The Virginia Department of Transportation began mobilizing crews yesterday to prepare roads for the wintry precipitation, noting that it has made some procedural adjustments in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of January’s I-95 shutdown.
The risk of ice tomorrow is expected to be highest further to the west in Virginia, where an Ice Storm Warning has been issued.
Thousands of lanterns will take over Lerner Town Square at Tysons II this winter.
Based in New York City, the Winter Lantern Festival will bring over 10,000 Chinese-style lanterns to Tysons for a nearly two-month stay from Dec. 16 through Feb. 12. This will be its first-ever stop in the D.C. area, the festival announced Wednesday (Nov. 30).
“We are thrilled to debut the Winter Lantern Festival, expand to new locations, introduce all visitors to the beauty of these artisan installations, and have the show become part of the DMV’s cultural holiday tradition,” said Haokun Liu, partner of Kaleido Arts & Entertainment Group, which organizes the annual festival.
Founded in 2018 as New York Events & Entertainment, Kaleido Arts assists companies, nonprofits and others with events that promote “global cross-cultural communication,” according to a press release.
The New York City festival has drawn over 150,000 guests annually over its three years of existence. It’s expanding to five different locations this year, but Tysons is the first and only site outside of New York state.
The outdoor venue at 8025 Galleria Drive, which hosted Cirque du Soleil this summer, will be filled with displays made out of painted lanterns to resemble animals, such as polar bears and penguins, as well as figures out of Chinese myths and legends.
All of the lanterns are handmade by over 100 artists, who fit silk cloth over steel wire frames with LED lights using techniques that date back to the Han dynasty, per the festival website. The displays can reach up to 30 feet in height and will span 60 acres.
“Lantern festivals have been a part of Chinese culture and history for thousands of years, honoring our ancestors and celebrating peace, prosperity, and good fortune,” Liu said.
The festival will also feature interactive light swings, see-saws and tunnels, along with live entertainment and food vendors.
Tickets are now on sale for $31.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids 12 and under, including a $2 service fee. For now, customers can get a 30% discount if they use the code EARLYP.
The festival will generally operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but it will be open daily between Dec. 23 and Jan. 1, 2023. Hours will be 5-10 p.m.
Updated at 5:45 p.m. — With rain in the forecast for this Saturday, “Rudolph’s Rockin’ Reindeer Games” has been postponed to Saturday, Dec. 17, The Boro announced today.
Earlier: Officially, winter won’t come for another three weeks, but as far as the Tysons area is concerned, its spirit is already in the air.
This weekend will bring a number of festive, mostly Christmas-oriented events to usher in the colder weather and upcoming winter holidays, from a dance party at The Boro to the previously announced McLean Holiday Art and Crafts Festival.
The Boro in Tysons will kick off its festivities from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 3) with Rudolph’s Rockin’ Reindeer Games, which it describes as the “ultimate holiday dance party.”
“Get your groove on with friends, families and neighbors at this holiday-themed dance party featuring a live DJ,” the development said in a press release. “Move and sing to your favorite seasonal tunes while sipping hot cocoa, doing arts and crafts and capturing memories (with Santa photo ops!) for your holiday card. Take part in a special scavenger hunt and compete in reindeer games like freeze dance, red light green light and limbo!”
Santa will be present for photos from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The festivities at Boro Park (8350 Broad Street) are free, but advance registration is encouraged.
Winter Boroland will continue on Dec. 10 with a Holiday Movie Pajama Party at ShowPlace ICON Theatre, which will screen three films that morning:
- 9:45 a.m. — Arthur Christmas (2011)
- 10 a.m. — The Polar Express (2004)
- 10:15 a.m. — Elf (2003)
Tickets cost $8 but include admission, a small popcorn, an apple juice, a goodie bag with candy and a holiday craft, and a photo booth opportunity.
Over in McLean, the annual “Reindog Parade” will return to the Langley Shopping Center for a 25th year on Saturday.
Hosted by the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, the event invites community members to dress up their pet dogs for a parade that will start at 8 a.m. outside Flowers & Plants Etc. (1378 Chain Bridge Road).
Prizes will be determined by a panel of judges, including Del. Marcus Simon (D-53). Dominion Energy spokesperson and former WUSA9 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Peggy Fox will serve as emcee.
In addition to the parade, the 90-minute event will feature gift bags for participants, hot chocolate and donuts, music by Bristol Sounds, and an appearance by Santa, per the chamber of commerce. An antique McLean Volunteer Fire Department engine and Dominion Energy bucket truck will also be at the scene.
The fire department will have holiday ornaments for sale as a fundraiser, the chamber told FFXnow.
As in past years, the chamber is asking participants to bring two cans of dog food that will be donated to a local animal shelter as a form of “admission.”
While the onset of winter usually heralds the end of farmers markets, Fairfax County announced last week that three markets around the county will brave the chill to continue into December.
“The Fairfax County Farmers Markets have extended the season at three popular market locations,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said in a release. “The Reston Farmers Market will remain open until Dec. 3, 2022; the Burke Farmers Market is open until Dec. 17, 2022; and the McCutcheon/Mt. Vernon Farmers Market will be open until Dec. 21, 2022.”
Along with the extended season, some of the markets will be getting a handful of new vendors and new wintery items typically not available in the other seasons.
“Our farmers and producers will continue to bring an abundance of winter squash, greens, apples, potatoes, fresh-baked breads, locally raised meats, and unique prepared foods,” the release said. “Extended season vendors will bring new products, such as macaroons, bagels, kombucha, Moroccan sauces and more. Be sure to visit Burke, Reston and McCutcheon/Mt. Vernon to support your favorite vendors through the season, and to welcome our new vendors.”
The farmers markets with extended hours are:
- Burke (5671 Roberts Parkway): April 16-Dec. 17, from 8 a.m. to noon
- Reston (1609-A Washington Plaza): April 30-Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. to noon
- McCutcheon/Mount Vernon (2501 Sherwood Hall Lane): April 20-Dec. 21, from 8 a.m. to noon
Customers and vendors had requested a continuation into December for the Mount Vernon market — typically the last one to close just before Thanksgiving, according to Park Authority spokesperson Judith Pedersen.
The Burke and Reston markets were also chosen for extensions, because they’re held on Saturdays, are the park authority’s largest, and “have vendors with enough products and product mix to sustain a vibrant market,” Pedersen told FFXnow.
“Unfortunately, the weather is too unpredictable to extend through the winter,” she said. “However, all vendors from the other markets are invited to participate in the extended season at these markets if they have product to sell.”
Continuing a tradition set by former Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, an annual winter coat closet will return to Reston from Oct. 17 through Nov. 10.
Conducted in a partnership with nonprofit Cornerstones, the drive will provide residents with free winter hats, coats, gloves, mittens and scarves.
Residents are encouraged to drop off new and gently-used coats and new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves to Cornerstones or Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s office.
“Several years ago my predecessor Supervisor Cathy Hudgins joined forces with Cornerstones to ensure that our neighbors in need of warm winter coats would be able to get one. We continue that tradition of neighbors helping neighbors this year with the upcoming opening of the Winter Coat Closet,” Alcorn wrote in a newsletter on Wednesday (Oct. 12).
For the duration of the drive, residents can drop off items at Cornerstones (11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a drop-off site at the North County Government Center on Nov. 19, Dec. 17 and Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Residents can drop by one of several dates throughout the winter to pick up items. In cases of inclement weather, distribution will happen indoors.
More snow is on the way to Fairfax County, though Northern Virginia isn’t expected to see the worst of this storm.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the D.C. area, starting at 4 p.m. today (Friday) and continuing until 4 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday).
The full alert is below:
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 4 AM EST SATURDAY…
* WHAT…Snow. Total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.
* WHERE…The District of Columbia, and portions of central Maryland and central and northern Virginia.
* WHEN…From 4 PM this afternoon to 4 AM EST Saturday.
* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the evening commute.
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 has canceled extracurricular programs, athletic team practices, and all other activities scheduled to take place on school grounds this afternoon and evening, as well as tomorrow morning until noon.
The Virginia Department of Transportation says its crews pretreated roads in Northern Virginia yesterday (Thursday), and approximately 2,400 trucks will start deploying around midday to treat roads as needed.
The snowstorm is expected to hit around this afternoon’s rush hour, so the department advises planning ahead to avoid non-essential travel at that time.
“Temperatures are expected to stay below freezing over the next several days, causing potential icy conditions,” VDOT said in a news release. “Treat anything that looks wet as if it could be icy, especially bridges, ramps, overpasses, and elevated surfaces. If there is snow or ice on roadways, travel is hazardous.”
In anticipation of the coming snow, Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency for Virginia yesterday, noting that areas along the state’s coastline are expected to see the biggest impact.
White brine lines are a familiar sight on Fairfax County roads before snowstorms, such as the one that passed through the D.C. area last weekend.
Not too long ago, though, winter weather preparations involved scattering tons of dry salt and sand on streets, sidewalks, and other outdoor surfaces.
The adoption of brine to prevent snow and ice from sticking to pavement is part of a regional effort to limit the use of salt, which is effective — and cheap — as a de-icing material but pollutes the environment and corrodes infrastructure.
“What we’re trying to do is walk that fine line between protecting the natural resources, but at the same time, providing the need for public safety,” said Normand Goulet, a senior environmental planner for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC).
The Salt Management Strategy
In the works since 2018, the strategy was developed by a committee that included Fairfax County staff after a water quality report identified de-icing salt as a primary contributor to excessive levels of chloride in Accotink Creek, affecting wildlife in the 51 square-mile watershed.
According to the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES), one teaspoon of salt can permanently pollute five gallons of water.
The department advises residents to shovel snow early and often, apply salt only where needed, and sweep up extra material for reuse. Viable alternatives to salt include sand, wood ash, and native bird seed.
“One 12oz coffee mug holds enough salt to treat a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares,” DPWES said by email.
The SaMS toolkit encourages local and state government agencies to pay closer attention to the salt they use for anti-icing, which comes before snow to prevent accumulation, and de-icing, which removes snow and ice during or after a storm. Read More
(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for Fairfax County, as the D.C. area prepares for its second snowstorm of the year.
In effect from 1 p.m. today (Sunday) to 1 a.m. tomorrow (Monday), the alert warns of mixed precipitation that will create slippery, hazardous road conditions.
The National Weather Service anticipates snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches and one-tenth of an inch of ice, along with wind gusts that could reach speeds of 45 miles per hour. With temperatures expected to drop below freezing tonight, travel could be affected through tomorrow morning.
[1/15 at 10:40 PM] A Winter Weather Advisory will be in effect tomorrow at 1 PM. The county is expected to see 2-3 inches of snow in addition to some possible ice and rain. Snow should start between 1-3 PM. Plan to limit travel tomorrow afternoon and night. #FFXSnow #VaWx pic.twitter.com/iqzhH22IkF
— Ready Fairfax (@ReadyFairfax) January 16, 2022
The Virginia Department of Transportation began pretreating roads with brine on Friday (Jan. 14) and mobilized snow plow crews this morning, deploying more than 3,800 pieces of equipment throughout Northern Virginia, according to a 10 a.m. snow update.
“Plan your trips now to avoid all nonessential travel on Sunday into Monday, especially during the height of the storm, to avoid deteriorating conditions and to allow crews room to work,” VDOT said.
Fairfax County Public Schools has canceled all activities on school grounds after 1 p.m.
After the Jan. 3 snowstorm took out power for about 500,000 households across the state, including tens of thousands of people in Fairfax County, Dominion Energy says crews and contractors from as far away as Louisiana and Oklahoma will be on hand to assist with its emergency response.
“Our crews are ready to once again rise to any challenge this storm will bring,” Charlene Whitfield, Dominion’s senior vice president of power delivery, said in a news release. “Customers should prepare, as well, so they can remain safe until our work is done.”
Dominion advises avoiding downed power lines and reporting outages through its website or to 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) to ensure the fastest possible response.
For their sake, pls stay off the roads today unless your trip is absolutely essential. pic.twitter.com/pe1r0ncO3y
— VDOT Northern VA 😷 (@VaDOTNOVA) January 16, 2022
Map via National Weather Service/Twitter
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.
“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.
1/3 Travel Plans for the holiday weekend? Pls be #weatheraware. Wx forecasts have all regions of #Virginia experiencing some combination of precipitation late 1/15/22 thru 1/16/22. This storm also expected to impact East Coast along #I95 corridor-for those leaving/returning to VA pic.twitter.com/2fpgANjWIE
— VA State Police (@VSPPIO) January 13, 2022
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