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A vision that began snowballing with two Fairfax County residents — Niels ten Berge of Vienna and Jeff Hokenson of McLean — is closer to becoming a reality.

Based in McLean, their company Alpine-X is behind the Fairfax Peak indoor winter slope facility that will turn a landfill by I-95 in Lorton into what Fairfax County hopes will be a prime tourist destination for skiing, snowboarding, and more.

Hokenson says the idea for Alpine-X came from ten Berge, who was inspired by his experience with indoor snow sports venues in Europe.

“Niels had a simple but powerful premise: These venues are popular in many parts of the world — why shouldn’t they also be successful here in the U.S.?” Hokenson said by email. “Also, there’s a vibrant skiing, snowboarding and active-lifestyle culture here in the Washington, D.C. area, so this market seemed like a logical place for the first project.”

With Fairfax Peak as the flagship site, Alpine-X announced on May 25 that it hopes to bring more than 20 facilities to North America. Previously, the company stated that it envisioned 10 destinations in America.

The company told Tysons Reporter that the new number includes locations in the U.S. and Canada.

For Fairfax Peak, Alpine-X has proposed leasing land from the county, which would still keep parts of the landfill in operation.

Plans presented to the county called for several other elements, including an alpine coaster and a wave pool with surfing possibilities that could come with a second phase of the project. The indoor slope would have an approximately 20-degree angle.

“The proposed Snow Sports facility is expected to be approximately 450,000 sq. ft., with multiple slopes, the longest of which should be 1,700 ft. in length,” the company said in its proposal. “Additionally, the facility will have a terrain/fun park, snow tubing runs, a ‘bunny slope’ for new skiers, or for training, a ski shop, multiple restaurants and bars, a sky-bar and event space, an outdoor courtyard…and more.”

Alpine-X is the developer of the recreational project and has partnered with SnowWorld International B.V., a consulting subsidiary of SnowWorld N.V., which has indoor snow resorts in the Netherlands and has worked on other projects across the globe.

Alpine-X has a 50% ownership stake in SnowWorld USA, which will be the owner and operator of the snow sports facility and other elements, such as a 100-plus-room hotel.

Fairfax County supervisors approved an interim agreement for the project in November, extending a previous approval. It allows the company to explore the potential of the site and continue negotiations with the county. The interim agreement lasts until Dec. 31, 2021 and could be extended for another year.

The company initially suggested a 99-year lease with a potential buyout option for the property. The county’s public affairs office said it’s county policy to not comment on ongoing negotiations.

Proposed pricing for Fairfax Peak is not yet available, but the facility is expected to be more cost-effective than traditional slopes that have seasonal windows.

“The Alpine-X experience aims to complement established ski resorts — not compete — as we will have the opportunity to introduce new demographics to snowsports at large, ideally inspiring passion and potential interest in hitting the outdoor mountains down the road,” Hokenson said, noting that the company plans to partner with established winter resorts nationwide.

The new facility could also be a boon for local businesses like Alpine Ski Shop, which has a store at 9629 Fairfax Boulevard in Fairfax as well as a location in Sterling (21999 Shaw Rd.).

“We love the prospect of introducing the sport of skiing and snowboarding in a fun, controlled environment and bringing it to a wider audience,” owner Chris Bunch said in an email. “The proximity is an added bonus!”

Bunch also said the slope will “provide experienced skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to get a quick ride in during the work day or head over and ‘run laps’ to keep the legs in shape.”

Alpine-X believes Fairfax Peak could be in operation in late 2024 or early 2025.

Photo courtesy Alpine-X

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The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory at 8:43 a.m. today for much of the D.C. area, including Fairfax County.

Precipitation started falling early this morning and could result in up to an inch of snow accumulation. The alert will remain in effect until 3 p.m.

Here is the full alert:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 3 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON…

* WHAT…Rapid onset of snow which will result in snow covered roadways. Snow accumulations of up to one inch.

* WHERE…Portions of central and northern Maryland and northern Virginia.

* WHEN…Until 3 PM EST this afternoon.

* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions will impact the morning or evening commute.

“Slow down and use caution while traveling,” the NWS said. “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.”

Photo by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

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The D.C. area is hunkered down for another winter storm today (Thursday) that could last into Friday morning.

At 1:05 p.m., the National Weather Service downgraded its earlier winter storm warning to a Winter Weather Advisory. As of 8:30 this morning, the NWS had projected one to three inches of snow, a drop down from previous forecasts of three to six inches of accumulation.

However, with the addition of freezing rain and ice, the roads are still going to be slippery, making travel a challenge.

The Fairfax County, Town of Vienna, and the City of Falls Church governments have closed for today, and Fairfax County Public Schools have canceled all classes.

In previous years, icy road conditions would have made for treacherous commutes to work and school, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many to work and learn from home. Still, the frequency of winter weather events over the past few weeks can feel disruptive, even if not much snow has actually materialized so far this year.

How do you feel about all this winter weather? Do you wish there was more snow, or are you comfortable with the amount that Fairfax County has gotten? Are you ready for warmer weather yet?

Photo via Fairfax County Police Department

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Thursday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Cancels Vaccine Clinics Due to Storm — The Fairfax County Health Department has canceled the COVID-19 vaccination clinics it had scheduled for today, with the National Weather Service predicting snow and ice will make travel difficult. People who had appointments will receive an email with a link to reschedule. [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax County and Falls Church City Close for Winter Storm — Fairfax County government offices and courts are closed today, and employees have been granted emergency administrative leave. The City of Falls Church has shuttered all city buildings, including the community center and library, but virtual services are still available. The City “cautions residents to stay home and off the roads as conditions are very icy.” [Fairfax County Government, City of Falls Church]

FCPS Cancels All Classes and Other School Activities — Fairfax County Public School buildings are closed today, and all in-person and virtual classes have been canceled, along with other activities on school grounds. The Fairfax County School Board will still hold a virtual meeting tonight starting at 7 p.m. [FCPS]

Virginia to Allow Up to 250 People at Outdoor Sporting Events — “Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday he will expand the number of spectators allowed at outdoor sporting events to 250 people. The expansion of capacity limits will be officially implemented Monday.” [Washingtonian]

Bicycling Advocates Praise Fairview Park Nursing School Plan — The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the Arizona College of Nursing’s proposal to create a school in an office building on Fairview Park Drive in Falls Church on Jan. 27. The project agreement includes a commitment to provide space for a future shared-use bridge over I-495 and install bicycle racks outside the building. [Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling]

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All Town of Vienna government offices and facilities will be closed tomorrow (Thursday) as the D.C. region braces for a winter storm that could deliver up to six inches of snow and a quarter inch of ice.

The town-wide closure extends to the Vienna Community Center, and all parks and recreation classes and programs have been canceled, along with Thursday trash pick-up services.

A Board of Architectural Review meeting that was scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow has been postponed.

“This decision was necessary to ensure the safety of Town employees and because it is anticipated that all staff hands will be needed for snow removal,” the Town said in a statement.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Fairfax County and the rest of the D.C. area starting at 3 a.m. tomorrow and lasting until 6 a.m. Friday.

Residents are being advised not to travel, and Dominion Energy says it is preparing for potential multiple-day power outages throughout the state, including in Northern Virginia.

Metro will operate buses on a moderate snow service plan, while maintaining regular weekday rail operations, though de-icer trains and heaters will be utilized.

Fairfax Connector will offer full service tomorrow, but some routes will be detoured and could be further modified or suspended based on road conditions. A full list of missed stops can be found on the transit service’s website.

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The D.C. metropolitan area, including Fairfax County, could get up to six inches of snow in a storm expected to arrive early tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

The region is now under a Winter Storm Warning, a step up from the Winter Storm Watch that the National Weather Service issued yesterday afternoon.

Issued at 10:24 a.m., the warning will take effect at 3 a.m. on Thursday and stay in place until 6 a.m. Friday. The NWS says there will be heavy snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain, forecasting three to six inches of snow and one-tenth to one-quarter inch of ice accumulation.

More details from the alert are below:

* WHEN…From 3 AM Thursday to 6 AM EST Friday. Snow will begin between 3 and 5 AM. Snow will change to a mixture of sleet and freezing rain during the late morning and early afternoon hours.

* IMPACTS…Power outages and tree damage are likely due to the ice. Travel could be nearly impossible. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Snow Thursday morning will be heavy at times with snowfall rates around 1 to 2 inches per hour possible along with visibility reduced to around one-quarter mile at time.

Warning that the storm is expected to have “significant road impacts,” the Virginia Department of Transportation is advising residents to prepare to stay home and avoid nonessential travel tomorrow and on Friday.

VDOT says its crews are finishing pretreatment of about 2,000 lane miles of interstates and primary roads in Northern Virginia. About 3,000 pieces of equipment will be ready tonight to treat roads, and plowing will start once two inches of snow have accumulated.

“Additional equipment and crews are on standby to report, including to handle downed trees or limbs from ice,” VDOT said in a news release.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department suggests testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they work, charging cell phones and tablets, and using a flashlight or other battery-powered device if power goes out.

With communities elsewhere in the U.S. struggling to stay warm in frigid temperatures due to power outages, one Tysons resident is offering free firewood to anyone who needs it in the Tysons and Vienna area in advance of the coming winter storm.

“We had many trees taken down, and my husband took up chopping wood as a COVID project,” Rhea Baker told Tysons Reporter. “We personally do not have a working fireplace, so I have much more than I can use in my backyard fire pit.”

Baker, who works as an insurance agent with State Farm, says she also has ice scrapers that she is able to give away.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott, photo courtesy Rhea Baker

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More snow is expected later this week.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for most of the region from late Wednesday night through late Thursday night.

Snow accumulations of five or more inches and total ice accumulations of more are possible.

More from the alert is below.

IMPACTS…Power outages and tree damage are likely due to the ice. Travel could be nearly impossible. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… Monitor the latest forecasts for updates on this situation.

Photo by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

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Fairfax County is now under an Ice Storm Warning after the National Weather Service upgraded the Winter Storm Watch it had put out for the D.C. area starting this morning.

Issued at 1:56 p.m., the ice storm warning will remain in effect until 7 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday). The NWS projects that the region will see 0.2-0.3 inches of sleet and freezing rain, which has been leaving roads slick with ice throughout the day.

“Roadways are becoming very icy and dangerous,” the NWS warns. “Avoid all unnecessary travel.”

This is the first time that an ice storm warning has been issued for the D.C. area since Feb. 12, 2008, according to Washington Post meterologist Matthew Cappucci.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is warning people to stay off the roads, noting that pavement could be slick even after it is treated.

The Fairfax County Park Authority announced at 2:19 p.m. that all of its facilities will close at 3:30 p.m., and all activities and programs scheduled after that time have been canceled for today. All activities on Fairfax County Public Schools grounds had already been suspended.

In the Tysons area, The Boro has canceled its scheduled Valentine’s drive-in movie screening of “Crazy, Stupid, Love” due to the inclement weather, though tomorrow’s screening of “Valentine’s Day” is expected to take place as planned.

Dominion Energy reported that ice damage to power lines is causing power outages in some areas.

The NWS advises anyone who must travel to take a flashlight, food, and water in case of an emergency. Power outages are also possible.

“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,” the NWS said.

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The weekend is nearly here, and in February 2021, that apparently means that Fairfax County is once again expected to get hit with a blast of frigid, even icy weather.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for the D.C. region shortly after 6 p.m. last night. The alert will take effect tomorrow (Saturday) morning and last until 7 a.m. on Sunday (Feb. 14).

Here are more details from the alert:

…WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING…

* WHAT…HEAVY ICING POSSIBLE. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO ONE INCH AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH POSSIBLE.

* WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

* WHEN…FROM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS…POWER OUTAGES AND TREE DAMAGE ARE POSSIBLE DUE TO THE ICE. TRAVEL COULD BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE.

A second message released today (Friday) at 8:36 a.m. reiterates that the watch is in effect from Saturday to Sunday morning and that there is “potential” for a quarter inch of ice or more to accumulate. However, it does not mention possible snow accumulation.

The NWS advises travelers to plan on slippery road conditions.

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Prepare for more snow in the region later tonight and into tomorrow.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for most of the region. The advisory is in effect from 7 p.m. today through 10 a.m. tomorrow.

NWS expects snow accumulations of between one to three inches. More from the alert is below.

IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.

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.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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