Newsletter

Autumn has arrived, and that means Vienna homeowners are about to shift from mowing their lawns to raking them.

However, exactly when that transition will begin remains a little hazy.

The Town of Vienna announced earlier this week that fall leaf collection is coming soon, but the specific details of this year’s schedule have not yet been determined, according to town spokesperson Karen Thayer.

“The weather has been so warm, we haven’t seen much leaf litter, yet,” Thayer told Tysons Reporter. “Typically leaf collection starts toward the end of October or beginning of November, and the timeline depends on Mother Nature.”

According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Northern Virginia’s average temperature in October is 69 degrees Fahrenheit, and fall foliage in the region usually reaches peak color around Oct. 15-25.

This October, though, temperatures have lingered in the 70s with today (Friday) reaching a high of 83 degrees, even as winter arrived early on the other side of the country.

The unusually mild weather falls in line with scientists’ expectations for how the seasons will evolve with climate change, according to the Capital Weather Gang, which predicts that the western cold front will travel east and bring more typical autumnal conditions by Sunday (Oct. 17).

Given the weather’s current volatility, the Town of Vienna is holding off on announcing a concrete timeline for its fall leaf collection, though some other localities in the area, including the cities of Falls Church and Alexandria, have already unveiled start dates.

Once collections begin, Vienna’s crews will make at least three passes through town by the end of the calendar year. Residents can see the routes through a map on the town website, and “Leaf Collection Coming Soon” signs will be posted in local neighborhoods in advance of each round.

Leaves should be raked to the curb for collection, or they can be bagged and picked up as part of Vienna’s weekly trash collection services, the town says in its news release:

Residents are asked to rake leaves to the curb for collection. Leaf piles should be free of limbs, sticks, acorns, and other debris that may clog the vacuum hose.

Alternatively, Town residents may, if desired, bag leaves for pick up on regular weekly trash collection days. Please place leaves in paper yard waste bags available at garden and home supply stores or loose in a can. In accordance with anti-pollution laws, burning leaves is prohibited. For more information about leaf collection, call 703-255-6380.

Rake leaves just to the curb. Raking leaves into the street is dangerous because:

  • Cars parked on leaf piles may catch fire.
  • Children playing in the leaves may be struck by a passing vehicle.
  • Leaves may prevent rainwater from reaching storm drain inlets.
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Morning Notes

(Updated at 8:40 a.m.) Flood Watch in Effect — Fairfax County is under a Flood Watch into this afternoon, as “significant” rain is expected. Several roads have been closed due to flooding or downed trees, including Potomac River Road at Georgetown Pike, Lawyers Road at Hunter Mill, and Old Courthouse at Besley Road. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, FCPD]

Suspect in Tysons Sexual Assault Charged in New Incident — Fairfax County police have filed new sexual assault charges against a Woodbridge man who was arrested on Sept. 3 in connection with a sexual assault reported at a Tysons hotel in July. Reported on Aug. 26, the second incident involved the man allegedly assaulting a woman he’d arranged to meet at a hotel in the Seven Corners area. [Patch]

FCPS Shares SAT Results — The Class of 2021 performed above the national average on the SAT with just a 4.4% drop in participation, compared to a 31.4% global decline, despite the challenges of conducting standardized testing during the pandemic, Fairfax County Public Schools reported yesterday (Wednesday). Results from the College Board showed that Asian and white students recorded higher average scores than their Black and Hispanic counterparts. [WTOP]

Area Officials Consider Prioritizing Equity in Planning — The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments board will vote on Oct. 13 on a regional transportation and land use plan that would prioritize low-income residents and communities of color when allocating funds for affordable housing, transportation, and other projects. Planners say the move would help address disparities in health outcomes and access to transit and other services. [The Washington Post]

Tysons Media Company Has Suitors — “Tegna Inc. (NYSE: TGNA), the Tysons-based operator of dozens of U.S. television stations, said Tuesday it has recently received multiple acquisition proposals — a new round of overtures after offers last year were pulled as the Covid-19 pandemic was taking hold. According to reports, media mogul Byron Allen is teaming with alternative investment firm Ares Management Corp. (NYSE: ARES) on a bid, while private equity giant Apollo Global Management Inc. (NYSE: APO) and Standard General LP are joining on another.” [Washington Business Journal]

Regional Park Authority Founders Celebrated — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority recently lauded the achievements of its founders, including conservationist Ira Gabrielson, who gave land to Fairfax County that became Oakton’s Gabrielson Gardens Park. Started 62 years ago, NOVA Parks has preserved more than 12,000 acres of land and oversees attractions like the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Trail. [Sun Gazette]

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A car surrounded by water in Wolf Trap (via Fairfax County government/Twitter)

Updated at 3 p.m. — Swinks Mill Road in McLean has reopened after floodwaters swept debris onto the bridge at Scott Run this morning.

Updated at 12:10 p.m. — A Tornado Watch has been issued for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County, until 7 p.m.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. — All activities scheduled to take place in Fairfax County Public Schools this afternoon and evening have been canceled due to the anticipated inclement weather.

Earlier: Several feet of water surrounded a car on a road in Wolf Trap this morning (Wednesday) after an overnight storm passed through Fairfax County, producing flooding with more rain expected to fall throughout the day.

The National Weather Service issued a Flood Warning at 8:35 a.m. today (Wednesday) for central Fairfax County and Northern Virginia that will be in effect until noon.

“At 8:35 a.m. EDT, stream gauges report water levels continue to rise from earlier heavy rain,” the NWS said in the alert. “Flooding is already occurring in the warned area. Between 1.5 and 2.5 inches of rain have fallen.”

A Flash Flood Watch is also in effect for much of the D.C. area through 8 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday).

Fairfax County officials warned people not to drive through flooded routes. It was unclear the extent of rescue efforts that occurred in Wolf Trap, which the county first described as Vienna. A spokesperson later said officials responded to the 9900 block of Browns Mill Road.

Officials closed several roads due to flooding, including Old Courthouse and Besley roads in Tysons, Fairfax County Police Department reported.

Locations expected to face flooding include Dunn Loring, Great Falls, Merrifield, Pimmit Hills, Tysons, and Vienna.

The Virginia Department of Transportation’s Northern Virginia District reported at 8:55 a.m. that Swinks Mill Road has been closed just north of Scott Run, posting a photo on Twitter of damage to a bridge over the stream.

The flooding and rain come courtesy of Tropical Depression Ida, the remnants of the hurricane that slammed the Gulf Coast earlier this week.

While the storm is expected to become post-tropical today, it could still bring three to eight inches of rain with some higher amounts through Thursday, and significant and life-threatening flash flooding is likely in the mid-Atlantic, the NWS Weather Prediction Center said in a 5 a.m. bulletin.

“We are expecting several inches of rain today from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, picking up in intensity in the early afternoon until around midnight,” Fairfax County said in a post on its emergency information blog. “We have already experienced an early morning storm that has led to power outages, swift water rescues and numerous road closures due to downed trees and flooded roads.”

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is urging people to avoid driving through flooded or closed roadways, noting that stalled and trapped cars put the driver, passengers, and first responders in unnecessary danger.

“By now, many drivers across Fairfax County know which roads traditionally flood,” the department wrote in a blog post. “FCFRD asks that if you need to be on the roadways today that you stay informed and plan alternate routes around flooded roadways. Our firefighters and paramedics do not want to meet you by (a preventable) ‘accident’!”

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Morning Notes

Prepare for Remnants of Hurricane IdaTropical Depression Ida is expected to hit the D.C. area today (Wednesday). A Flash Flood Watch will take effect this morning, and Gov. Ralph Northam has already declared a state of emergency. Fairfax County says to avoid flooded streets, remove valuables from basements, and ensure storm drains and gutters aren’t clogged, and Falls Church City residents can borrow sandbags until 3 p.m. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

County Grants Program Now Accepting Applicants — Fairfax County’s new Active and Thriving Community Grants Program opened its application portal yesterday (Tuesday) and will accept applicants until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. Approved on July 27, the program will allocate $10 million in federal relief money to select small businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]

FCPS Ready to Help Afghan Refugee Students — “[Annandale resident] Tahir is awaiting the arrival of his wife and other children, who were among thousands of Afghans who fled after the Taliban takeover earlier this month…When his family arrives, one of his priorities will be enrolling the children in school. A spokesperson for Fairfax County Public Schools said faculty and staff are already helping Afghan refugees enroll their children and providing them with additional support to help students adjust to their new environment.” [Inside NoVA]

Longtime Falls Church Crossing Guard Retires — “It was almost like any other day as Audrey Luthman greeted students heading to school Tuesday morning. She’s helped Falls Church students cross the roads safely since 1971, but her work has come to an end…City of Falls Church officials and families gathered Tuesday morning to celebrate Luthman’s 50 years of service and retirement.” [Patch]

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Map of power outages in McLean due to storm on Aug. 26, 2021 (via Dominion Energy)

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) A thunderstorm that has reportedly dropped hail in nearby Arlington County and D.C. has also knocked out power for more than 3,000 McLean residents.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for northeastern Fairfax County, though it was scheduled to end at 4:45 p.m.

According to Dominion Energy’s outage map, power outages attributed to failed circuits were affecting 1,638 customers around Ingleside and Langley as well as 839 customers in the area around the Route 123 and George Washington Memorial Parkway interchange.

Another 703 customers in downtown McLean are also without power, though a cause is still under investigation.

Crews are awaiting assignment, and an estimated time of restoration for the power outages is pending investigation, according to Dominion.

In addition, traffic delays may be coming after a downed tree was reported on the southbound GW Parkway after Route 123.

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A Flash Flood Warning is in effect for the Tysons area (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) A Flash Flood Warning has been issued for much of northeastern Fairfax County with a particular emphasis on the Tysons and Vienna area.

By 8 a.m., between one and three inches of rain had already fallen, and instances of flash flooding have been reported throughout the morning. The National Weather Service alert warned of “life threatening flash flooding of creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets, and underpasses.”

The alert is in effect until 11:45 a.m.

Police also reported that several roads have closed due to flooding, including Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) at Prosperity Avenue in the Merrifield area.

By 10:02 a.m., Beulah Road at Browns Mill Road in Wolf Trap, Hilltop Avenue at Cedar Lane in Dunn Loring, and Georgetown Pike at Swinks Mill Road by Scott’s Run were added to the list of flooding-induced road closures.

“Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads,” the NWS said in a flood warning for the DC region this morning. “Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.”

At least one person got stuck in a vehicle in the Vienna area on Old Courthouse and Beasley roads but self-evacuated, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said.

The fire department also responded to a fallen tree in the McLean area that crashed into a home in the 800 block of Dolley Madison Boulevard and toppled an oil tanker.

Emergency responders said they expect several calls for help as people attempt to drive through flooded, and sometimes closed, roadways “only to stall and become trapped.”

They encouraged people to seek alternate routes and plan their travel.

A flash flood watch, which means flooding is possible, also involved part of DC and areas of Maryland (including Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville, and surrounding areas) for this morning. An earlier alert, also a flash flood watch, identified other parts of Virginia (such as Manassas and Stafford).

“Heavy rainfall may result in rapid rises on streams, creeks, and in urban and poor drainage areas,” the NWS said.

The NWS also says that isolated severe thunderstorms, and some possible flooding, could occur on Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 21 and 22) as a slow-moving system approaches from the Great Lakes this weekend.

Photo via NWS

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Updated at 4:25 p.m. — A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has now been issued for Fairfax County. In effect until 5 p.m., storms are moving east at 15 miles per hour with 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that could bring down trees and large branches, potentially leading to power outages.

Earlier: Fairfax County is still in the process of recovering from last night’s storm, and the next one is already on the way.

The National Weather Service has put the entire D.C. region under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 9 p.m., warning of the potential for hail and damaging winds similar to the blasts that disrupted travel and power in the Vienna and Falls Church area yesterday (Tuesday).

In addition, a Heat Advisory will remain in effect until 8 p.m. today with an Excessive Heat Watch scheduled to begin at noon tomorrow (Thursday), when the heat index could reach up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Updated at 9:45 p.m.Metro has restored service on the Orange Line between Vienna and East Falls Church after it was suspended earlier due to a power outage at the West Falls Church Metro station.

Earlier: A thunderstorm has taken out power for thousands in the Tysons area, particularly around Vienna, Falls Church, and Merrifield.

The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for northeastern Fairfax County at 5:12 p.m., though by that time, the rumble of thunder had likely alerted anyone in the area.

Moving east at 15 miles per hour, the storm brought 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts, according to the NWS, which warned about the potential for fallen trees and large branches.

“This could injure those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles,” the alert said. “Roadways may become blocked by downed trees. Localized power outages are possible. Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.”

The storm arrived quickly, leaving many unprepared.

At least 51,423 Dominion Energy customers in Fairfax County are now without power, according to the site PowerOutage.US.

Dominion Energy’s outage map shows many of the outages concentrated in Falls Church, Merrifield, and Vienna, where businesses in the commercial area along Maple Avenue and Church Street were among those that lost electricity.

A thunderstorm has taken out power for thousands in the Tysons area (via Dominion Energy)

Dominion Energy generally estimates that power will be restored between 7 p.m. and midnight, though the cause of some outages is still under investigation. Most of the outages have been attributed to out circuits, but one affecting more than 5,000 people around Vienna and Oakton is the result of a tree falling on a power line.

Metro has suspended service on the Orange Line between Vienna and East Falls Church due to a loss of power at the West Falls Church station. The transit agency says shuttle buses have been requested.

Even with the thunderstorm, Fairfax County can expect little relief from the summer heat and humidity over the next couple of days, with the heat index expected to surpass 100 degrees tomorrow and on Thursday (Aug. 12).

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Sun glare with clouds (via Ritam Baishya/Unsplash)

While temperatures in Fairfax County haven’t exactly been comfortable over the past couple of days, the heat is about get worse before easing up at the end of this week.

The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County, that will take effect from noon through 8 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday). An Excessive Heat Watch will follow on Thursday (Aug. 12) over roughly the same time frame.

Forecasts indicate high temperatures of 95 degrees tomorrow and 99 degrees on Thursday in Tysons, but the addition of humidity could make it feel like more than 100 degrees.

Here is more from the alert:

* WHAT…For the Heat Advisory, heat index values will range from around 100 degrees west of Interstate 95 to around 105 degrees near and east of Interstate 95. For the Excessive Heat Watch, dangerously hot conditions are possible with heat indices possibly ranging from around 105 degrees west of Interstate 95 to around 110 degrees near and east of Interstate 95.

* WHERE…The Washington, Baltimore, and Fredericksburg areas, central and southern Maryland, northern Virginia, and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.

* WHEN…For the Heat Advisory, from noon to 8 PM EDT Wednesday. For the Excessive Heat Watch, from Thursday afternoon through early Thursday evening.

* IMPACTS…Extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities.

The NWS advises preparing for the incoming heat by drinking plenty of fluids, staying out of the sun and in air-conditioned rooms when possible, and checking in on relatives and neighbors.

“Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances,” the NWS says in the alert. “This is especially true during warm or hot weather when car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.”

Photo via Ritam Baishya/Unsplash

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Like much of the D.C. area, Fairfax County is now under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch that will be in place until 9 p.m.

The region is bracing for a second consecutive night of potentially damaging wind and rainfall after a storm that swept through late Wednesday (July 28) resulted in power outages that affected thousands of people in Fairfax County, particularly around McLean and Falls Church.

While many of the outages have been addressed, Dominion Energy’s outage map shows that, as of 3:30 p.m., crews are still working to restore electricity in some areas. The current estimated time of restoration for the lingering outages ranges from before 5 p.m. to 6-11 p.m.

A Tornado Watch has been issued for D.C.’s Maryland suburbs, but Fairfax County could see damaging hail, isolated flash flooding, and large hail from the incoming storm, according to the National Weather Service.

The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management advises residents to “stay weather aware and know what to do if a warning is issued,” which would mean that severe weather is imminent or underway.

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