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UPDATED: High Wind Warning issued, after-school activities cancelled as storm ramps up

Wind-blown raindrops on a window (staff photo)

Update at 3:55 p.m. — A Flood Warning has been issued for Arlington.

Update at 12:30 p.m. — The earlier Wind Advisory has been upgraded to a High Wind Warning.

…HIGH WIND WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 AM EST WEDNESDAY…

* WHAT…Southeast winds 25 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph expected.

* WHERE…In District of Columbia, District of Columbia. In Maryland, Prince Georges, Charles, Central and Southeast Montgomery and Central and Southeast Howard Counties. In Virginia, Fairfax, Stafford, King George and Central and Southeast Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park Counties, and Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria.

* WHEN…Until 1 AM EST Wednesday.

* IMPACTS…Damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.

Update at 12:25 p.m. — The National Weather Service has issued the following forecast update, predicting deteriorating conditions and a period of “intense” rainfall between 6-10 p.m.

…HAZARDOUS WEATHER CONDITIONS FOR BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON
REGION TODAY BETWEEN 500 PM AND 1000 PM EST…

Weather conditions will deteriorate as a strong frontal system approaches this afternoon, then passes through the greater Baltimore/Washington region this evening. This will result high winds capable of downing trees and powerlines, tidal flooding, and the potential for flooding of small streams and creeks. This will create hazardous travel conditions late this afternoon through late evening across the region.

Light-to-moderate rain will continue early this afternoon, then increase in intensity late this afternoon, with a several hour period of heavy, intense rainfall expected between 6 PM and 10 PM. This heavy rainfall, coupled with already saturated soils from recent rainfall, will cause flooding of small streams and creeks. Do not attempt to drive across flooded roadways; additionally, flooding at night increases the risk for motorists not being able to quickly identify the water hazards due to decreased visibilities by the heavy rain and darkness.

Easterly winds will increase in intensity as well this afternoon across the region, with gusts to 50 MPH expected late this afternoon through mid-evening. Locations closer to the Chesapeake Bay will see higher wind gusts of 60-70 MPH. Strong winds will increase the risk of falling trees and downed powerlines. Again, the risk of poor outcomes resulting from high winds is increased during nighttime. Winds will decrease after midnight tonight.

Finally, areas along the tidal Potomac River and western shore of the Chesapeake Bay north of Smith Point VA should prepare for moderate-to-major tidal flooding. The cities of Baltimore, Annapolis MD, and Alexandria VA are most prone to tidal flooding, and the coupling of heavy rainfall and strong onshore winds of 50-60 MPH in these locations will work together to create moderate-to-major tidal impacts.

Earlier: Arlington County will be under a Wind Advisory and a Flood Watch from early this afternoon until Wednesday morning.

A storm packing heavy rain and gusty winds will sweep through the area, forecasters say, potentially causing widespread power outages.

Some local school districts like Montgomery County are dismissing students early, but Arlington and neighboring Alexandria and Fairfax County have so far not announced any early dismissals.

As of noon Arlington Public Schools said that after-school and evening activities have been canceled.

All APS after-school and evening activities are canceled for today, Tue, Jan. 9, 2024, including extracurricular activities, games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds. The School Board Work Session scheduled for this evening is also canceled. Extended Day will remain open until 6 p.m. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics.  For information about Arlington County programs and operations, go to www.arlingtonva.us.

VDOT, meanwhile, is warning of a potentially hazardous evening on local roads. From a press release:

…heavy rain is forecast across the commonwealth from Tuesday afternoon through Tuesday night, with precipitation pushing off to the east after midnight into early Wednesday morning. Areas of flooding will be possible due to the saturated soils already in place. Wind gusts of up to 65 mph may also occur.

VDOT crews will be monitoring roadways and treating conditions as they develop.

This severe weather system may cause downed trees and power lines and other debris, as well as flooding that will make roadways extremely hazardous or impassable. Stay away from downed wires and do not approach or touch trees or limbs that are entangled with wires as they could be extremely dangerous. If those are in state maintained roadways, VDOT crews must await the power company to remove any electrical hazard before addressing downed trees or other roadway debris.

The Flood Watch, from the National Weather Service, is below.

…FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING…

* WHAT…Flooding caused by excessive rainfall continues to be possible. […]

* WHEN…From Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

* IMPACTS…Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks. Flooding may occur in poor drainage and urban areas. Low-water crossings may be flooded.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…
– A period of moderate to heavy rain is likely to overspread the area Tuesday afternoon and evening. Rainfall totals of 1.5 to 3 inches are expected with localized amounts up to 4 inches possible.
– Please visit weather.gov/safety/flood for flood safety and preparedness information

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

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