Weather Alert: Tornado Warning In Effect for Fairfax County

A severe thunderstorm tornado warning is in effect for Fairfax County until 3:15 p.m. today (Friday). The National Weather Service issued the alert this afternoon.

Residents are encouraged to take shelter immediately.

The alert comes one week after a small tornado touched down in Reston. NWS classified the tornado as weak, but it left downed trees and destroyed one Reston home.

Reston Association staff worked  to clear downed trees on its properties this week. Property owners should contact insurance companies or tree removal companies to remove downed trees from their yards.

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Del. Ken Plum: Tornado Warning

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum, who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

There was both shock and amazement on the part of many Restonians to hear last Friday evening that our community was under a tornado warning by the National Weather Service (NWS). These warnings occur all the time especially in the Midwest and earlier that day across the deep South. For us the weather is relatively mild, although the winds do seem to blow harder these days, and the rains this spring seem to have brought a lot of local flooding. The amount of snow varies from winter to winter.

About 8:30 p.m. on Friday the National Weather Service found that an approaching squall line ahead of a larger storm’s cold front distorted into an S shape across Northern Virginia. Gusts along the bow were significant until the bow broke up into a rotating storm. Doppler radar revealed a counterclockwise circulation known as a mesocyclone over Reston that developed into a cyclone.

Technically the National Weather Service recorded that on Friday, April 19, there was a tornado event in Reston beginning at 8:55 p.m. estimated time with estimated maximum wind speed of 70 mph, with a maximum path width of 100 yards and a path length of 4 miles. The NWS uses the Fujita Scale to classify tornadoes into one of six categories–EF0 (weak) to EF5 (violent). The tornado in our community was rated at the lowest ranking, EF0.

For professional weather people who deal with bad weather all the time, the tornado in our community that lasted an estimated five minutes may have seemed weak. But for those who sought refuge in their basements and heard the wind whipping around their homes and saw the trees swaying in their yards the storm was anything but weak. Fortunately, no one was killed or reported hurt. Lots of trees and branches were downed and several cars were damaged with one townhouse being severely damaged. Everyone is left to wonder if we will be as lucky if the flukes of weather send their wrath on us again.

Weather refers to what happens in the atmosphere around us with rain, snow, wind, and thunderstorms as examples. For many of us weather conditions seem to have become more severe. Only scientific recordings of weather events over a long period of time will provide evidence needed to confirm or deny our hunches. All the weather events of temperature, humidity and rainfall patterns averaged over seasons, years or longer creates our climate. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that climate is changing and that human behavior especially in releasing more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere is a leading cause. Completing the circle of what is happening in our world is that climate change is bringing about more extreme weather events.

While extreme weather, climate change and global warming may be controversial topics to some, many of us are deeply concerned. This week’s celebration of Earth Day was a global experience. Our local weather event while relatively mild reminds us that we need to be serious about the subject and serious about our response to it.

File photo

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National Weather Service: Five-Minute Tornado Classified As ‘Weak’

The tornado that touched down Friday night in Reston was classified by the National Weather Service as weak.

The tornado was rated “EF0,” which is the weakest classification for a tornado. Peak winds reached 70 miles per hour and the tornado’s path was up to 100 yards wide, according to NWS.

Cleanup was underway on Saturday and no injuries were reported.

According to a damage assessment and report released Saturday afternoon, NWS stated that the tornado, which touched down at 9 p.m., lasted five minutes and left a four-mile path of uprooted trees.

It began near Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road and made its way down to Center Harbor Road and Wiehle Avenue.

NWS charted the complete path in its assessment:

FIRST EVIDENCE OF DAMAGE WAS NEAR FOX MILL ROAD AND PINECREST ROAD WHERE SEVERAL TREES WERE DOWNED AT APPROXIMATELY 855 PM EDT. ISOLATED TREE DAMAGE FROM THIS POINT TO NEAR THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY COMPLEX ON SUNRISE VALLEY DRIVE WAS NOTED, WITH SEVERAL TREES TOPPED ALONG GLADE DRIVE NEAR ROSEDOWN DRIVE.

AFTER PASSING ACROSS THE DULLES TOLL ROAD (ROUTE 267), MINOR TREE DAMAGE WAS NOTED BETWEEN SUNSET HILLS ROAD AND BARON CAMERON AVENUE. THE TORNADO TRACKED ACROSS RESTON HOSPITAL CENTER, WITH NO VISIBLE SIGNS OF DAMAGE, BUT DAMAGE WAS NOTED JUST NORTH OF THE HOSPITAL ON TOWN CENTER DRIVE NEAR TOWN CENTER PARKWAY, WHERE A TREE WAS TOPPED, FENCING BLOWN DOWN, AND SHINGLES BLOWN OFF SEVERAL TOWNHOUSES.

AFTER CROSSING BARON CAMERON AVENUE, THE TORNADO PASSED JUST EAST OF TRADER JOE’S GROCERY STORE DESTROYING AN OUTDOOR SHED THERE. NEARBY, A TALL, TWO-FOOT DIAMETER TREE CRASHED THROUGH THE UPPER FLOOR OF A TOWNHOUSE ON QUIETREE DRIVE IN RESTON, THAT LED LOCAL OFFICIALS TO CONDEMN THE PROPERTY. SEVERAL LARGE TREES WERE EITHER UPROOTED OR TOPPED ALONG BENNINGTON WOODS ROAD BETWEEN CROSSWIND DRIVE AND RESTON PARKWAY.

A LARGE, 100-FOOT TALL TREE FELL AND SMASHED THE FRONT END OF AN UNOCCUPIED VEHICLE PARKED ALONG CENTER HARBOR ROAD, MIDWAY BETWEEN RESTON PARKWAY AND NORTH VILLAGE ROAD. MINOR TREE DAMAGE ALONG A NARROW PATH WAS NOTED IN NEIGHBORHOODS LOCATED BETWEEN NORTH VILLAGE ROAD AND RESTON PARKWAY BETWEEN CENTER HARBOR ROAD AND WIEHLE AVENUE. NO SUBSTANTIAL STORM DAMAGE WAS NOTED NORTH OF WIEHLE AVENUE, WHERE IT APPEARS THE TORNADO WEAKENED AT 900 PM EDT.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Cleanup Underway After Tornado Touches Down in Reston

 

The calm after the storm has descended after a tornado touched down briefly Friday night.

Local fire and rescue personnel spent much of the night clearing a tree that had fallen on a parked pickup truck on Center Harbor Road in Reston. Crews used chainsaws to cut up the tree to open the road. The truck’s owner was not inside the truck at the time.

Scattered downed trees still rested on roads and sidewalks early Saturday morning, including several near Lake Anne Village Center. A house near Quietree and Crosswind Drives was condemned after a tree fell through the roof.

Although the National Weather Service confirmed the tornado touched down, the service has not yet determined the severity of the storm. It will make an announcement after a storm survey during daylight hours today (Saturday).

Restonians reported whistling winds and punctuated bangs that suggest the tornado moved from Bennett Road to the Wiehle Avenue and Lakeport Recreation Area.

Send photos of the damage to [email protected] and tell us how the storm impacted you.

Here’s more from social media a day after the storm:

Photos by Fatimah Waseem. This story will be updated.

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BREAKING: Tornado Touches Down in Reston

(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) There are numerous reports of trees down and emergency activity around Reston following a tornado touchdown Friday night.

Around 10:20 p.m. the National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado had touched down, after reporting extensive tree damage in the area.

“911 call center reports… multiple trees down in the Reston area with ones reported on Center Harbor Road and Baron Cameron Road,” said a storm damage report from the weather service. Emergency activity has also been reported along the Reston Parkway and Wiehle Avenue.

“Tree damage near intersection of Quietree Drive and Crosswind Drive,” NWS further reported. “One house condemned with tree falling through roof.”

The weather service will determine the tornado’s intensity via a storm survey during daylight hours on Saturday.

One large fallen tree crushed a pickup truck on Center Harbor Road. NBC 4’s Darcy Spencer reported that the truck’s owner was taking shelter inside his home as the storm roared past.

On Reston Now’s Facebook page residents shared their harrowing experiences and damage reports.

“I’m just off Bennett Road and I am pretty sure we had a tornado go through our backyard (or very close to it) around 8:45/8:50,” said one reader. “It was, literally, as the warning was going out. Spoke with several neighbors who heard it as well and took shelter in the basement. Tons of debris on our street and quite a bit on Bennett.”

“We heard a huge amount of wind and then several large big bangs… several large branches fell onto our house and were swept into the backyard,” said another resident. “The force of the large branches was so strong the drywall inside is busted in two places on the other side of this scar… So thankful our family is safe.”

The original Tornado Warning from NWS:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR… SOUTHEASTERN LOUDOUN COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… NORTHWESTERN FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…

* UNTIL 915 PM EDT.

* AT 853 PM EDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO WAS LOCATED OVER RESTON, MOVING NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH.

HAZARD…TORNADO.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.

IMPACT…FOR THOSE IN THE DIRECT PATH OF A TORNADO TOUCHDOWN,  FLYING DEBRIS WILL BE DANGEROUS TO THOSE CAUGHT WITHOUT  SHELTER. DAMAGE TO ROOFS, SIDING, AND WINDOWS MAY OCCUR.  MOBILE HOMES MAY BE DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. TREE DAMAGE IS  LIKELY.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… RESTON, HERNDON, LOWES ISLAND, ASHBURN, STERLING, CHANTILLY, GREAT FALLS, COUNTRYSIDE AND STERLING PARK.

Storm reports and photos via social media:

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Weather Alert: Tornado Watch In Effect Until Midnight

Adding to expected rain and a flood watch, a tornado watch has been issued from now until midnight.

The National Weather Service issued the alert at 12:49 p.m. today. The watch covers Maryland, the District, ad 34 counties in Virginia, including Fairfax County and Arlington.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Statewide tornado drill today — Don’t be surprised if your neighbors act there’s a tornado, because there’s a statewide drill starting at 9:45 a.m. [Reston Now]

Reston makes the list — Find out which Reston developments made the Washington Business Journal’s “Best Real Estate Deals” roundup. [Washington Business Journal]

Hudgins interview — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins might be stepping down from her Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s role, but locals can still expect to see her around Reston. Hudgins answered some questions about development, One Fairfax and more. [Inside NoVa]

Photo courtesy @thoroughly.adorable.millie/Instagram

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Locals Asked to Sign Up for Statewide Tornado Drill This Month

Fairfax County wants locals to sign up for the upcoming statewide tornado drill.

The annual drill is meant to help prepare residents for tornadoes, which can strike quickly and cause extensive damage. Virginia has averaged 24 tornadoes per year over the last 10 years, according to the county.

After locals sign up to participate, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA Weather Radios at 9:45 a.m. on March 19.

The test should come through a tone or message alert simulating what people would hear and see during an actual tornado. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also participate by broadcasting the test message.

Once the drill starts, here’s what to do: move to a safe area, crouch, face down and cover your head with your hands. Some examples of safe areas include sturdy buildings, basements and storm cellars.

If you are in a car or outdoors, cover your head and neck and try to cover your body with a blanket or coat.

Here are things not to do:

  • do not outrun a tornado in a vehicle
  • do not go underneath an overpass or bridge
  • do not stay near windows, doors and outside walls

Image via Fairfax County

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Updated: Tornado Watch No Longer In Effect

Update: The tornado watch was canceled around 8:11 p.m. today (September 17), but the National Weather Service still expects heavy rains to continue through the night.

Earlier:

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch effective until 10 p.m today (September 17).

Tornadoes are possible as Hurricane Florence’s remnants move past the area.

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Road closures in Reston — Browns Mill Road at Windstone Drive and Browns Mill Road at Rosewood Hill Drive are closed due to water in the roadway. One lane is open near Lee Mill Road at Kelso Road. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Town of Herndon job opening — Town officials are looking for a new director of public works. The position pays between $120,000 and $140,000. [Town of Herndon]

PRC exchanges continue — The Coalition for a Planned Reston penned a letter to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins about a recent parks and open space meeting with the county. [Reston 20/20]

Nearby: Tornado touches down on Tuesday — “The National Weather Service confirmed Tuesday evening that an early morning tornado touched down for about a minute in the Lincolnia area.” [WTOP]

Photo by Ruth Sievers

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Updated: Flash Flood Warning Issued for Reston, Penny-size Hail Reported

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for Fairfax County until 10 p.m. today. Residents should avoid flooded roads.

tornado warning for the area was canceled at 6:45 p.m. today. Penny-size was reported as a rain, hail, thunder, and strong winds swept into the area. 

Earlier:

A severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near Leesburg. 

Residents should take cover by moving to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building, according to the alert.

Here’s more from NWS:

IMPACT…For those in the direct path of a tornado touchdown,
flying debris will be dangerous to those caught without
shelter. Damage to roofs, siding, and windows may occur.
Mobile homes may be damaged or destroyed. Tree damage is
likely.

* This dangerous storm will be near…
Lansdowne around 620 PM EDT.
Broadlands and Brambleton around 625 PM EDT.
Arcola around 630 PM EDT.
Ashburn and Countryside around 635 PM EDT.
Dulles International Airport around 640 PM EDT.
Reston, Herndon, Lowes Island, Oakton, Sterling, Chantilly and
Great Falls around 645 PM EDT.

Other locations impacted by this tornadic thunderstorm include
Congressional Manor, Belmont, Belleview, Sterling Park, Bradley
Farms, Cabin John and Fairfax Station.

Photos by @Cynthia_Adler, @wdudley2009 and @NWS_BaltWash

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Thursday Morning Notes

More Info Released on Herndon Tornado — After detailed analysis, the National Weather Service says a tornado that touched down in Herndon on April 6 was one of seven in the area during that storm. It is now estimated the tornado first came to ground near the Dulles Greene and Capstone apartment complexes in Herndon and lasted about five minutes. It downed numerous trees, including one that was thrown into the window of an apartment building. [National Weather Service]

Reston Islamic School Spotlighted by NPR — Al Fatih Academy (12300 Pinecrest Road) was the subject of a segment on today’s Morning Edition on NPR. The academy’s goal is “to cultivate and nurture a thriving American Muslim identity that balances religious, academic and cultural knowledge and imparts the importance of civic involvement and charitable work.” [NPR]

Local College Student Fighting Pollution — Reston’s Elizabeth Merin, a junior biosystems engineering major at Virginia Tech, is part of a group of students working to scrutinize emissions at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Blacksburg, as well as pollution in the New River Valley. The students have started a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, calling their group Citizens for Arsenal Accountability. [Roanoke Times]

Herndon Farmers Market Now Open, Rain and All — The opening day of the Herndon Farmers Market, which goes through 12:30 p.m. today, is on despite this morning’s rainy weather. It will take place each Thursday into November, in front of the caboose on Lynn Street. [Reston Now/Twitter]

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Small Tornado Confirmed to Have Touched Down in Herndon During Thursday Storm

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a small tornado touched down in Herndon during Thursday afternoon’s storm.

According to the Storm Prediction Center’s report, the tornado occurred in the area of Crestview Drive at 1:36 p.m.:

SIX TO 10 TREES DOWN IN VICINITY OF BUILDERS ROAD AND CRESTVIEW DRIVE … ALL FALLING TOWARDS THE NORTH. WOOD FENCING ALONG CRESTVIEW DR BLOWN TO THE WEST.

The tornado was classified as an EF-0, the lowest level on the scale, with a top wind speed between 60 and 70 mph. Preliminary damage survey results show it was on the ground for about three-quarters of a mile, with a maximum width of 25 yards.

A second EF-0 tornado in the area touched down in southeast Washington, D.C., about five minutes after the Herndon tornado. No one was reported injured in either location.

The storm toppled numerous trees in Reston and the surrounding area Thursday. The National Weather Service says it is investigating other locations in the area today.

Image via David Welch/Facebook of tree fallen at Dranesville Elementary School in Herndon

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Statewide Tornado Drill Takes Place Tuesday Morning

Tornado Drill

Northern Virginia residents are urged to take part in a statewide tornado drill Tuesday at 9:45 a.m.

The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management says the drill is an important safety exercise in an effort to remain safe should tornado strike.

While not commonly considered “tornado country,” Virginia has had 70 since 2011, including one in Reston. In total, they have caused more than $3 million in damage.

The National Weather Service will be testing its alert system as part of the drill. When the drill begins,  immediately protect yourself by going to a designated shelter-in-place or to the center of an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls, Fairfax County emergency managers say.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has these tips on organizing a drill in your home or office as well as information on how to spot the signs of a tornado.

Find more information on the Statewide Tornado Drill or additional drill resources at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). Find more information on tornadoes from FEMA at http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has designated March 11 as Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia.

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