Flash Flood Watch, State of Emergency for Rain, Joaquin

Possible track of Hurricane Joaquin/Credit: NWS

Get ready for a rainy weekend as a front that could cause up to a half a foot of rain heads towards Reston, only to possibly be followed soon after by Hurricane Joaquin.

Here is what you need to know:

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch from Friday morning to Saturday evening. Rain will increase in intensity across  the area Friday into Saturday, with two to four inches expected, with spots seeing higher amounts. Rain could fall over a short period of time on already saturated land.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a state of emergency late Wednesday afternoon. The Executive Order operates retroactively to Tuesday, when parts of Virginia were deluged with 6 inches of rain.

The state of emergency allows state and local emergency responders to begin to prepare for the effects of rain forecast across the Commonwealth Thursday and Friday, as well as the potential that Hurricane Joaquin will impact Virginia.

“I cannot stress enough the imperative for Virginians to focus on the rainstorms that are headed our way tomorrow and Friday, well before Hurricane Joaquin could potentially impact Virginia,” Governor McAuliffe said in a statement.

“The forecast of up to 10 inches of rain in areas across Virginia could result in floods, power outages and a serious threat to life and property. As we continue to track the path of Hurricane Joaquin, I have instructed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to make every preparation for a major event Thursday and Friday.”

The National Weather Service declared Joaquin a hurricane Wednesday morning when it was several hundred miles East-Northeast of the central Bahamas with winds of up to 85 mph. By Wednesday night, Joaquin had strengthened to a Category 3 (120 mph winds).

Said the NWS: “The storm may move closer to the Mid-Atlantic during the next several days. The details of how significantly the storm will impact us will become clearer as the week progresses. If it does impact us, sometime between late Friday through Monday is the most likely time. If the storm does reach the Mid-Atlantic be aware that heavy rain, wind, and tidal flooding will be possible.”

The Capital Weather Gang said on Wednesday “there’s no need to panic, but simply to begin thinking about hurricane and flooding preparedness and remaining tuned to the forecast, as it is likely to evolve substantially over the next 72 hours.”

“Hurricane Joaquin is forecast to come very close to the Mid-Atlantic coast, and possibly move inland, said the Capital Weather Gang. “At the very least, a period of heavy rain is likely. In a worst-case scenario, the region could contend with a dangerous, long-duration flooding event, widespread damaging winds and a significant surge of water up the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River.”

Some computer models have Joaquin making landfall in North Carolina; other say it will stay off shore.

Some weekend events may be altered due to the storm. Herndon High’s football game at Tuscurora has already been moved from Friday night to tonight. Washington Redskins and DC United officials also say they are monitoring developments that may affect weekend games.

Reston Now will update this story as it develops.

Graphic courtesy National Weather Service

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