Newsletter

The National Weather Service downgraded Fairfax County and the rest of the D.C. area from a Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Weather Advisory this morning.

As of 11:03 a.m., the NWS predicted that there could be up to an inch of additional snow accumulation by noon, resulting in one to three inches of total accumulation from today’s storm.

Here is more from the most recent alert:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST
TODAY…

* WHAT…Snow. Additional snow accumulations of up to one inch. Storm total snow of 1 to 3 inches.

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

* WHEN…Until noon EST today.

* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions.

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.

Though the snow is expected to turn into rain this afternoon, the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management advises shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks to prevent it from refreezing when temperatures drop tonight.

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More snow may be on way as the previous week’s storm melts away.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for most of the region. The watch is in effect from late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon.

Heavy snow with total accumulations of five or more inches is possible.

More from the alert is below.

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

* WHEN…FROM LATE SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY AFTERNOON.

* IMPACTS…PLAN ON SLIPPERY ROAD CONDITIONS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS FOR UPDATES ON THIS SITUATION

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Updated at 2:10 p.m. — As of 1:43 p.m., the Winter Weather Advisory for the D.C. area has been extended to 9 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday), with the National Weather Service now predicting up to two inches of snow.

Earlier: The National Weather Service has extended its Winter Weather Advisory for the D.C. region, including Fairfax County, to midnight tomorrow (Tuesday).

After being blanketed with two to four inches of snow on Sunday, the area could see up to one inch of additional snow accumulation and one-tenth of an inch of ice accumulation today, according to the NWS advisory.

The current forecast for the Tysons area suggests freezing rain is likely today, possibly mixed with snow before 7 p.m. There remains a 50% chance of snow showers or some other kind of precipitation tomorrow, mainly before 1 p.m.

The NWS warns that the “hazardous conditions” could affect the morning and evening commutes.

“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.”

Warnings against traveling evidently did not deter many people from hitting the road yesterday.

The Virginia State Police responded to 362 traffic crashes and 321 disabled/stuck vehicles between midnight and 9 p.m. on Sunday. The VSP’s Fairfax Division, which encompasses Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Arlington counties as well as the City of Alexandria, recorded 44 disabled vehicles and 46 crashes.

Travel is expected to remain challenging today, particularly this morning, after dropping temperatures potentially caused roads and sidewalks to freeze overnight.

“State police is still advising folks to hold off on their travels until later Monday or even possibly Tuesday, depending on what their region has experienced in the way of snow, freezing rain, and ice,” VSP Public Relations Director Corinne Geller said in a news release.

Pedestrians are not safe from peril either. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported early this morning that, in the half-hour span between 5:24 and 5:56 a.m., it had responded to two incidents of people slipping on ice and injuring themselves.

Fairfax County Public Schools announced last night that all in-person activities in schools or on school grounds have been canceled for today, including extracurricular activities and athletic team practices. All students continue to learn virtually.

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Monday Morning Notes

Winter Weather Advisory in Effect Until 10 A.M. — The D.C. area could experience light freezing rain and ice accumulations up to an inch this morning. Travelers should expect slippery road conditions, slow down, and use caution. [National Weather Service]

Fairfax County Police Chief Retires — Edwin C. Roessler officially retires today after leading the Fairfax County Police Department for eight years. He oversaw key reforms, such as the creation of a civilian review board and the introduction of body-worn cameras, but some officers reported “a disconnect” with department leaders on issues like discipline, compensation, communications and promotions. Deputy County Executive for Public Safety Dave Rohrer is now serving as interim chief as a search for a permanent successor continues. [The Washington Post]

Falls Church Nonprofit Theater Gets Permanent Home — “After a tumultuous six-year journey, Creative Cauldron will have a new home, thanks to the hard work and tenacity of Insight Property Group and the City to bring the best possible project to the Broad and Washington Crossroads.” [Falls Church News-Press]

McLean Art Teacher Finds Success with Zoom Classes — “[Pamela] Saunders, a mom of two who has taught in McLean since 2004, typically teaches classes at Brooksfield School, Chesterbrook Elementary, Franklin Sherman Elementary and Kent Gardens Elementary. But once the pandemic hit, she moved from the classroom to Zoom so students could continue art lessons while staying home.” [Patch]

Photo by Craig Fingar

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As anticipated, Fairfax County residents woke up this morning to a world coated in snow, which is expected to continue falling throughout the day and potentially into tomorrow.

As of 7:08 a.m., the National Weather Service was predicting up to four or six inches of snow to accumulate in the D.C. area, including Fairfax County, as a Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until midnight.

Here is more from the most recent NWS alert:

* WHAT…Heavy mixed precipitation expected. Snow accumulations through Sunday night around 4 to 6 inches with ice accumulations of a light glaze.

* WHERE…The Washington Metropolitan area.

* WHEN…Through midnight EST tonight. The steadiest snow will fall through this afternoon before tapering off to an intermittent mix of light snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Additional snow is expected Monday through Monday night with additional accumulations most likely around 1 to 3 inches, bringing the storm total accumulations around 4 to 8 inches.

* IMPACTS…Travel will be very difficult Sunday through Tuesday morning due to a prolonged period of snow and wintry precipitation with temperatures near or below freezing.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is advising people to avoid unnecessary travel so that its crews have room to work treating and plowing roads.

“Stay home and avoid driving throughout the storm,” VDOT said in a 6 a.m. update. “Heavy snow bands will mean reduced visibility and potential for conditions to deteriorate quickly. Should the higher end of forecasts materialize, it will take some time to make a passable lane on all roads.”

The Virginia State Police reported earlier this morning that its troopers had already responded to 34 crashes by 9 a.m., though most of the incidents did not result in any injuries and involved only damage to vehicles.

The City of Falls Church activated its snow emergency routes at 9 a.m., prohibiting residents and visitors from parking on several major roads.

“The City’s snow emergency routes need to be open for first responders, public safety officials and road crews at all times and thus have priority for salting, sanding and plowing,” the city said in a press release. “…Vehicles abandoned or parked on snow emergency routes could be ticketed and towed to allow snow removal crews to clear the roads.”

A full list of affected streets can be found in the press release and on the City’s website.

The City says its response to Winter Storm Orlena has not been hampered by recent concerns about COVID-19 that sent the entire Falls Church public works staff into quarantine last week. Plowing in the city is being conducted by a combination of contractors and staff members who were cleared to leave quarantine by the Fairfax County Health Department.

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The food service industry is in survival mode this winter, as COVID-19 cases remain high in Fairfax County and around the U.S.

Increased flexibility for outdoor dining operations, along with a greater emphasis on takeout and delivery services, helped sustain many restaurants during the summer and fall, but the chillier weather has made convincing people to eat or drink outside a trickier proposition.

The National Restaurant Association reported in December that sales had dropped by $2.2 billion — or 4% — in November from the previous month and were expected to decline further over the winter. Overall, the food service industry has seen a nearly 20% drop in sales compared to business pre-pandemic.

To rally public support, local restaurants, breweries, and cafes have turned to a range of promotions, from restaurant weeks to a #BundleUp campaign led by Caboose Brewing Company, which runs Caboose Tavern in Vienna and Caboose Commons in Merrifield, and the the Lake Anne Brew House in Reston.

Have you been patronizing restaurants and other food and beverage establishments this winter? Are you sticking with delivery and takeout orders, or are you willing to try dining outside — or even indoors?

Photo via Spencer Davis on Unsplash

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A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Fairfax County through 9 a.m. tomorrow.

According to the National Weather Service, between one to two inches of snow is possible throughout much of the region.

Here’s more from the NWS alert:

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

The Virginia Department of Transportation announced at 11 a.m. today that it has about 400 trucks staged along roads this afternoon to treat roads.

The department offered the following advice to drivers in preparation of possible wintry precipitation and freezing conditions:

  • Closely monitor weather reports for shifts in forecasts in your area.
  • Plan ahead. If road conditions become hazardous, delay travel for your safety and to give crews time to clear or treat roads.
  • Be aware of the potential for ice. With freezing temperatures in the forecast, any precipitation may freeze quickly. If you must drive, use extreme caution in areas prone to freezing such as bridges, overpasses, hills, curves, and ramps. See more winter driving tips.
  • Monitor road conditions from home on www.511virginia.org, on the free mobile app, or call 511 from any phone in Virginia.

Photo via Joshua Hanson on Unsplash

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With colder weather approaching, Tysons-area restaurants are preparing for a warm, socially-distant eating experience for their guests.

Last week, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to approve an ordinance amendment that allows enclosed tents with heaters, both inside and outside, for outdoor dining, fitness, and exercise activities, and a few local restaurants are planning to take advantage of the ordinance.

Founding Farmers (1800 Tysons Blvd.) is planning to follow the ordinance by creating an outdoor-dining space. Majority-owned by American family farmers, Founding Farmers serves American dishes, along with seasonal fruits and vegetables from Virginia farms.

“We’re working through the final details of our tents but we do plan on installing some soon,” Farmers Restaurant Group Vice President and Marketing and Communications Specialist Meaghan O’Shea said.

“What we’re hoping to achieve is to continue to offer safe dining options both inside and outside through the cooler weather months,” O’Shea said. “If you want to be outside, we want to be sure we can accommodate that request and that it’s an enjoyable experience for both the guests and our team.”

Tyson’s first annual Restaurant Week earlier this month (Oct. 12-18) was a huge success, according to many local restaurant owners and managers.

Urban Plates (1782M Galleria at Tysons II), which participated in Tyson’s Restaurant Week, currently has an outdoor heated patio, so no further accommodations need to be made, according to General Manager Tony Bass.

“We also always have inside seating available, following Fairfax County COVID-19 guidelines — less than 10 people at one table, sitting six feet apart,” Bass said.

The Town of Vienna has not yet permitted restaurants to use closed tents for outdoor dining. The town council most recently re-adopted an emergency ordinance allowing institutions and businesses to get temporary waivers from zoning regulations on outdoor activities on Oct. 5, but the measure still requires tents to “remain open on all sides.”

Still, that limitation has not stopped the town’s restaurants from proactively preparing for the winter months.

Vienna’s Blend 111 (111 Church St. NW), a food and wine bar that specializes in Latin dishes, has already began “winterizing” its patio, according to owner/sommelier Mike Biddick.

“We added gas heaters, pop-up tents for use when it is rainy, and blankets,” Biddick said. “We are also working with a firm to design eco-friendly, heated chair cushions for later into the winter.”

Biddick says over 90% of his customers choose to enjoy their meals outside, but the restaurant has still worked to create a safe, socially-distant dining experience for the customers that choose to sit inside.

“Inside, we set up only eight tables,” Biddick said. “…While our open kitchen required that we installed very robust air ventilation when we opened last year, we also installed air particle filters next to each of the tables for added airflow and circulation. Masks are mandatory, as are gloves for our staff.”

Photo courtesy Jennie Kuperstein

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What does the word ‘invite’ mean?

That question occupied the bulk of a Vienna Town Council discussion on Monday night regarding a proposal to invite Vienna restaurant lenders, owners, landlords and tenants to brainstorm ideas to support businesses this winter in light of the economic instability caused by COVID-19. The event is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the Vienna Community Center gym and will be moderated by Peter Sparber, a Vienna resident.

The proposal passed 5-2, with Mayor Linda Colbert and Councilmember Ed Somers voting against it.

During the town council meeting, Colbert, Town Manager Mercury Payton, and the council members debated whether it is legal or proper for the town to hold an invite-only event not moderated by a town official.

Councilmember Ray Brill, who requested the town council take up the motion, said time is of the essence and the word “invite” must stay to gather together stakeholders.

“Winter is coming and there is nothing that we can do to stop it,” Brill said. “We need to listen to residents and other business folks to learn their point of view and navigate the COVID-19 crisis.”

Colbert worried about the town hosting an event but ceding control of the conversation. She said this gathering should remain in the private sector.

“I think it comes down to how some of us view the word invite,” Colbert said.

She said that if she invites people to a party, it is her party and she runs it. Similarly, if the town invites stakeholders, that makes it an official function. She said she would support a motion without the word “invite.”

Many members tweaked the proposal’s language. Like Brill, Councilmember Chuck Anderson, whose amended motion was ultimately approved, said the word “invite” needs to stay.

“I want the gravitas of the town to be part of the attempt to get people there,” he said.

His changed motion states: “This gathering is not an official function of the Town of Vienna. The town is not proposing any specific legislative action as a result of this meeting and Town Council members may observe, but will not participate in the discussion.”

Councilmember Dr. Nisha Patel offered another compromise to change “invite” to “encourage a conversation.”

Brill countered that encouragement occurs on social media. In order to have an honest dialogue, he only wants those who are invited to show up.

“We change from the word ‘public forum’ to ‘meeting,’ we run the risk of no one showing up because they don’t talk in person,” he said.

Patel said she understood the dilemma and supported the event.

“I think we should help make this a possibility for them,” she said. “We are all interested in helping them, that’s not a question.”

Photos via Vienna Town Council

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Monday (Jan. 6)

  • Daf Circle — 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Iranian-American Community Center (2236 C Gallows Road) — People from around the community are invited to come and make drum music with friends and other community members — no previous skill required. A $10 cash entry fee will be collected at the door.

Thursday (Jan. 9)

  • Fall Church Chamber Networking Breakfast — 8 to 9 a.m. at Original Pancake House (7395 Lee Hwy) — This event invites anyone interested in the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce to attend this meet and greet. No registration is required but attendees are expected to pay for their own meals.

Friday (Jan. 10)

  • Dining in the Dark — 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Greenhouse (2070 Chainbridge Road) — Ever wonder what it is like to remove one of your senses and let the others take control? At this event, you will be blindfolded by a waiter who will serve you a four-course meal along with a wine pairing for $99 while a DJ plays music.
  • Vision Board Workshop — 6 to 8 p.m. at BRAWS Office (114 Courthouse Road SW) — This event will teach attendees how to put together a vision board and help people design what they want their lives to look like. A $10 donation is suggested to benefit Bringing Resources to Women’s Shelters. Snacks, wine and supplies will be included. All are welcome.
  • (the) unRuly TheaTre pRojecT” — 6 to 8 p.m. at Bards Alley (110 Church Street NW) — This teen improv group will perform a free show for the public. No RSVP is required. “These talented teens make up the show as they go along, so that each show is completely new and hilarious,” according to the Facebook page.

Saturday (Jan. 11)

  • Children’s Clothing and Toy Swap — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Philip Catholic Church (7500 St. Phillips Court) — People are invited to gather at Hayden Hall and either donate or swap gently used or new items for kids. All items not claimed at the end of the event will be donated to families in need. The event will also accept bedding, strollers and bouncy swings.
  • Resolution Buster Bash — 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Settle Down Easy Brewing (2822 Fallfax Drive) — To celebrate the release of its new hard seltzer water, the brewery is hosting a party. The first 50 people to attend will receive a free pint glass with $1 off refills all day. There will also be food and various beer specials.

Sunday (Jan. 12)

  • Ski and Snowboard Waxing Workshop — 9 to 11 a.m. at REI (8209 Watson Street) — This winter, people can learn how to make their rides down the mountain go more smoothly with regular waxings. No prior experience is needed. This workshop is free and open to all.
  • Dog Adoption Event — noon to 3 p.m. at Chico’s Natural Pet Market (6349 Columbia Pike) — Anyone interested in adopting a furry friend can stop by to meet new friends in need of a home. Volunteers will be available to ask questions and the shelter is also looking for foster homes. This event is free and open to the public.

Image via Facebook

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