Press Club

Update at 6:05 p.m. — The number of outages in Arlington is now down to just 67, according to Dominion.

Earlier: More than 2,000 Dominion customers are still without power after two strong storms knocked down trees and power lines Sunday.

As of 9:45 a.m. the utility company reported 2,084 customers in the dark, down from 8,295 outages immediately following the second of yesterday’s storms.

The outages are scattered across the county but mostly in south Arlington. Among the largest of the remaining outages are in the Aurora Highlands and Columbia Forest neighborhoods.

Dominion’s power outage map currently lists the estimated restoration time as between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. tonight.

The utility company has been struggling to restore power due to widespread damage from the storms. Currently Dominion is reporting  8,992 outages across Northern Virginia, including 2,832 in Fairfax County and 3,873 in Alexandria.

The downed trees and power lines are affecting bus service in Columbia Forest.

“Due to downed power lines, the ART Route 75 will not be servicing stops on S. Frederick Street until further notice,” Arlington Transit said in an alert earlier this morning. “Passengers can board on George Mason Drive.”

The outages are also affecting library service in Aurora Highlands.

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Dominion on scene of power pole fire in 2020 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

An early morning power outage Tuesday left more than 2,000 Dominion customers in the dark. The culprit: balloons.

The incident prompted Dominion Energy to remind residents about the danger posed by those metallic balloons one might buy in a grocery or party supply store.

“In the overnight hours mylar balloons came in contact with our power lines causing a short circuit or power surge which put 2,085 customers in the dark,” Dominion spokeswoman Peggy Fox tells ARLnow. “The balloons damaged a circuit which had to be replaced.  Fortunately, there was no fire and our crews were able to gradually switch customers to other circuits.’

“Power was restored to all of those customers by 5 a.m. — in under three hours from when the outage began,” she added.

Letting balloons fly up into the sky may seem harmless — and in the case of balloons held by young children, it’s sometimes hard to avoid — but aside from the fact that the balloons eventually come down and end up as litter, mylar balloons in particular pose an acute danger on the way up.

“Mylar balloons have a metallic coating that conducts electricity,” Fox explains. “When they touch power lines they can cause large-scale outages, melting of electrical wires and even fires. It’s happened across the country.”

“We would ask people to not release any balloons outside and to dispose of them properly,” she said.

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Morning Notes

Cranes above construction between 18th and 20th St. S. in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Police Looking for Missing Teen — “MISSING: ACPD is seeking assistance locating 14-year-old Anahi… Described as a [Hispanic] female, 5’4″ tall with brown hair, brown eyes and a nose piercing. She was last seen at approximately 12:30 p.m. today in the 400 block of S. George Mason Drive.” [Twitter]

Amazon Banana Stand in Crystal City — “Amazon has operated a stand in front of 1770 Crystal Drive, one of the office buildings it occupies in Crystal City, since July. The banistas give away bananas, individually or by the bunch, every weekday between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Anderson said. And anyone can take them, from Amazon employees to residents to passers-by. The stands have dog treats, too.” [Washington Business Journal]

Reports of Strange Sounds Last Night — “Locals: anyone know what that annoying chime / doorbell thing is that goes off every 10 minutes? I’ve seen reports of hearing it from Arlington to Alexandria.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Power Outage Last Night — “Just over 600 Dominion customers are without power tonight in the Columbia Forest and Claremont neighborhoods. Restoration expected within a few hours.” [Twitter]

Metro Wants to Develop Housing — “Metro has released a 10-year joint development plan that’s chock-full of big projects to extend the agency’s reach and increase ridership… The agency says it could produce 26,000 new housing units and 31 million square feet of new development through joint development projects at 40 stations. This could create a projected $50 million in yearly lease revenue.” [Axios]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. Breezy, with wind gusts of up to 31 mph. High of 50 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 7:50 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Power outages in the neighborhoods around Pentagon City (via Dominion)

Update at 9:40 p.m. — Power is expected to be restored around midnight for the remaining 500 or so homes without power, according to Dominion says. The company confirmed that a tree trimming company dropped branches on power lines, causing the outage.

Update at 6 p.m. — The number of outages is down to 520, according to Dominion’s website. The cause of the outage, which is now mostly affecting the Arlington Ridge neighborhood, is a tree on a power line, the power company says

Earlier: Nearly 3,400 Dominion customers are without power in parts of South Arlington due to an outage.

The outage is affecting portions of Pentagon City, its surrounding neighborhoods, and eastern Columbia Pike. Firefighters are investigating initial reports of wires down around the intersection of S. Arlington Ridge Road and 23rd Street S., near where a tree crew was working.

Dominion is currently listing an estimated restoration time of 6-9 p.m.

The outage is affecting both single-family home neighborhoods and commercial areas. There have been several reports of power surges in the area, including at the Aurora Hills library.

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Power outage in Clarendon (map via Dominion)

(Updated at 2:05 p.m.) More than 800 Dominion customers are without power in parts of Clarendon, Lyon Village and Cherrydale.

The outage was reported around 1:30 p.m. Police are on scene along Wilson Blvd in Clarendon, helping to direct traffic that backed up as a result of stop lights going dark.

Dominion says the cause of the outage is a “circuit out.”

Rain and wind have been picking up this afternoon, ahead of potential severe weather later today. The National Weather Service has now issued both a Severe Thunderstorm Watch and a Wind Advisory for Arlington — as well as much of the region.

Forecasters say that wind gusts up to 50 mph may bring down trees and large branches. From NWS:

141 PM EDT Thu Mar 31 2022

…WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING…

* WHAT…South winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 50 mph expected.

* WHERE…District of Columbia, and portions of central, northern and southern Maryland, central and northern Virginia and panhandle West Virginia.

* WHEN…Until 8 PM EDT this evening.

* IMPACTS…Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Isolated tree damage and a few power outages may result.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.

Peggy Fox, a spokeswoman for the power company, said this morning that residents should charge their mobile devices in anticipation of the expected windy weather.

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Looking down Lynn Street in Rosslyn toward Georgetown, in the snow (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 10 a.m.) A frigid night is on tap and the refreezing of melting snow could make roads and sidewalks extra slippery.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a Special Weather Statement about the ice concerns overnight:

…Icy Patches Likely Overnight Into Tuesday Morning… Falling temperatures and water from melted snow will result in patchy ice on area roads overnight into early Tuesday. This will be especially problematic on untreated roadways. Motorists should exercise extra caution overnight into early Tuesday, and assume that any surfaces which look wet or slushy may in fact be icy.

Adding to the driving danger in Arlington: many neighborhood roads have yet to be touched by a snow plow. As of Monday night, the county remained in “Phase 2” of its snow removal plan, during which crews focus on primary and secondary roads only.

Arlington snow plow map as of 10:15 p.m. The roads in red have not yet been plowed. (via Arlington County)

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says that crews will “work throughout the night to clear roadways,” but the county said Monday night what some had suspected: that Covid has reduced snow plow staffing.

“The County’s snow removal is currently impacted by COVID-19 related staffing shortages,” the county said. “Roads are being cleared as quickly and safely as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

Monday’s winter storm was one for the record books.

The 6.9 inches of accumulation recorded at Reagan National Airport is a new official D.C. record for Jan. 3 and the first major snowfall event in about three years. In Arlington, storm spotters reported between 6.5 and 9.2 inches of snow, with higher amounts generally to the south.

The storm’s impact will be felt Tuesday and perhaps beyond.

As previously reported, Arlington Public Schools will be closed while trash collection has been cancelled for both Monday and Tuesday. Additionally, Arlington County government offices, recreation centers, vaccination clinics, and — as of Tuesday morning — Covid testing booths will be closed on Tuesday.

The federal government will be opening on a three hour delay on Tuesday, the Office of Personnel Management said tonight.

While unnecessary travel is being discouraged, particularly overnight, limited bus service is now available.

After being suspended for most of the day, some Metrobus service started a gradual return as of 6 p.m. ART bus service in Arlington is currently expected to be restored at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

It’s going to be a cold night, meanwhile, for more than a thousand households around Arlington.

As of 10:30 p.m., 1,240 homes and businesses were without power in Arlington, according to Dominion. It could be days before the outages, scattered across the county, are fully resolved.

“Please prepare for the possibility of being without power for multiple days,” power company spokeswoman Peggy Fox said tonight. “This is a multi-day restoration effort.”

Dominion reported more than 90,000 customers without power across Northern Virginia — and even more statewide — Monday night.

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Power outages in Arlington just before 12:15 p.m., amid heavy snow (via Dominion)

(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Roads around Arlington are impassible, schools and the federal government are closed, and to make matters worse thousands of homes and businesses are without power throughout Arlington.

Amid the heavy, wet snow — some 6+ inches have fallen so far, with a couple of hours of additional snowfall expected — there have been numerous reports of branches snapping, trees falling and power lines down around the county. In some areas, power lines are sparking or on fire, with snow-laden branches leaning against them.

Among other reports, first responders are on scene of a significant power line fire on Robert Walker Place, near Taylor Elementary, according to scanner traffic. They have asked Dominion crews to expedite their response to the scene.

The fire department has also been dispatched to a report of a tree that fell into a house.  Most of the reports of tree damage are in North Arlington neighborhoods.

As of 2:45 p.m., Dominion reported 4,767 outages in Arlington — a number that has been steadily increasing. Of those, about 2,200 are part of a large outage centered around Marymount University’s main campus. Other small outages are spread across the county.

That’s still well below the more than 48,000 homes and businesses that are in the dark in neighboring Fairfax County as of 2:45 p.m., however. In all, Dominion is reporting more than 145,000 outages across Northern Virginia.

Some trees are also reported down across roads, including on N. Glebe Road near Chain Bridge and S. Arlington Ridge Road near Gunston Middle School. Additionally, the Bluemont Junction Trail is blocked by a fallen tree.

Local authorities, including Arlington police, continue to urge people to stay home and off the roads as the flakes keep falling.

As of noon, Arlington snow crews were in “Phase 2” of their response, focused on primary and secondary routes instead of neighborhood streets.

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(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Flooding is not the only imminent threat from today’s wild weather. The saturated ground and gusty winds have brought down several trees and large limbs around Arlington already, causing power outages.

As of 12:30 p.m. more than 2,250 homes and businesses were without power from Virginia Square to Bellevue Forest, with a large chunk of residential North Arlington in between, according to Dominion’s outage map. (The number dipped to 1,925 as of 1:15 p.m.)

Power flickered briefly in Ballston around noon, before coming back on. The outage knocked out traffic signals on Washington Blvd and Langston Blvd, among others. The Lyon Village Shopping Center, including The Italian Store, is also reportedly affected.

One likely cause is power lines that are down across Lorcom Lane near N. Edgewood Street, in the area of the Maywood and Woodmont neighborhoods. A falling tree took down the lines, which Dominion crews are now working to repair. Lorcom Lane is closed in the area.

The current estimated restoration time for the outage is listed as between 2-8 p.m, according to Dominion.

Meanwhile, more trees are likely to fall.

This morning the National Weather Service issued a statement cautioning about falling trees. NWS has received more than a dozen reports of trees falling around the region, including in Fairfax County where more than 5,000 Dominion customers are currently in the dark.

From NWS:

1122 AM EDT FRI OCT 29 2021

…GUSTY WINDS AND WET GROUND LEADING TO MINOR TREE DAMAGE…

GUSTY EASTERLY WINDS OF UP TO AROUND 40 MPH COMBINED WITH WET GROUND FROM RECENT RAINFALL IS RESULTING IN SPORADIC TREE AND POWER LINE DAMAGE. REMAIN ALERT IF TRAVELING THROUGH WOODED AREAS, AND AVOID THEM IF POSSIBLE.

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Morning Notes

‘Innovation Studio’ Planned at HQ2 — “Amazon Web Services will open a new AWS Innovation Studio to collaborate on global solutions that leverage its cloud computing technologies to address issues such as housing insecurity, social justice, climate change, sustainability and health and education inequality. A first for AWS, the studio will launch at Amazon’s new HQ2 headquarters under construction in Arlington, Va.” [CRN]

First Responders Honor Fallen Marine — “ACPD and @ArlingtonVaFD paid our respects to USMC Sgt. Nicole Gee, who was tragically killed in action in Kabul, as her procession traveled through Arlington this evening. May we never forget her service and sacrifice.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Power Outage Near Rosslyn — “About 450 homes and businesses are without power in the Rosslyn area this morning. Initial reports suggest that residents heard a loud boom and firefighters subsequently found a very unlucky squirrel.” [Twitter]

Beyer Blasts GOP for Debt Limit Drama — “By filibustering legislation that would prevent a default, they are gambling with the full faith and credit of the United States. This is poor economic stewardship. The responsible course of action is to increase the debt ceiling to prevent a catastrophic default.” [Press Release]

APS Preparing for Collective Bargaining — “The push to give Arlington Public Schools’ staff collective-bargaining rights is expected to move another step forward in coming weeks. School Board members on Sept. 30 will review a draft list of budget priorities for next year to be handed to Superintendent Francisco Durán. Among the directives in the staff proposal: create a timeline for implementation of collective-bargaining, which until recently was banned for public-sector workers in local governments across Virginia.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s National Recovery Month — “September is celebrated as National Recovery Month with the purpose of educating communities about recovery from mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders; the effectiveness of treatment and recovery support services; and that recovery is possible. Arlington proudly stands alongside our recovery community.” [Arlington County]

Virginia Gubernatorial Debate — “Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe outlined sharply different pictures of Virginia and visions for its future Tuesday in the second and final debate of this year’s race for governor. Youngkin, a former business executive, described a state racked with crime and struggling under a dying economy, then pledged to fix it by slashing taxes and beefing up law enforcement. McAuliffe took credit for creating a booming economy when he served as governor from 2014 to 2018.” [Washington Post]

Tuesday Morning’s Big Boom — “A big boom was reported across a wide swath of Fairfax County from Reston and Herndon to McLean around 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday, leaving many residents confused regarding the possible source. The sound was likely caused by loud thunder that accompanied a storm that was crossing the area at the time.” [FFXnow]

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Morning Notes

Police Make Numerous DUI Arrests — From the Arlington County Police Department: “ACPD Officers are committed to making our roadways safer by identifying, stopping, and apprehending impaired drivers. Last week (September 12 – 18), officers made 16 arrests for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Motorists are reminded that it is never okay to drink and drive.” [Twitter]

ACPD Warning of Tainted Cocaine — “Please take steps to protect yourself and others who may be in possession of cocaine purchased in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The nasal spray Narcan (also known as Naloxone) can save the life of someone who is overdosing from substances containing opioids, if given in time, and test strips can detect dangerous fentanyl-laced drugs before they are used.” [Arlington County]

Man Stabbed Near Columbia Pike — ” The investigation revealed that at approximately 1:15 a.m., the victim was walking in the area when he was pushed from behind by the unknown suspect and fell to the ground. The suspect then brandished a knife and demanded money from the victim before stabbing him and stealing his wallet. The suspect fled the scene on foot and the victim returned to his residence before determining he was in need of medical services.” [ACPD]

Gusty Storm Yesterday Afternoon — “A 39 mph wind gust was recorded at National Airport with the storm that passed through Arlington earlier this afternoon, per the National Weather Service.” [Twitter]

Power Outages After Wednesday’s Storm — “More than 1,000 homes and businesses are currently without power in Arlington. The largest outage is affecting the area around Kenmore Middle School.” [Twitter]

School Bond Funds New ‘Heights’ Entrance — “A new entrance to the Shriver Program, which is collocated with H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Rosslyn, is needed to make it easier for those with disabilities to access the building and the parking lot… More funds are need to permit ‘the completion of a design that we had intended in the first place – complete it the right way,’ Kanninen said. The $11.39 million project accounts for nearly half the proposed $23 million school bond that goes to voters on Nov. 2.” [Sun Gazette]

Klobuchar to Canvass in Arlington Sunday — “Join us for a Weekend of Action canvass in Arlington with Senator Amy Klobuchar & Governor Terry McAuliffe! We’ll be talking with our neighbors about the issues that are important to them — and why Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala, Mark Herring, and Alfonso Lopez are the right people to move Virginia forward in 2021.” [Mobilize]

Update to Metro Story — A report from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission suggests that the person who fell from a train while walking between railcars near the Clarendon station was the son of a WMATA employee. He was able to continue on to Tysons but suffered significant injuries, was bleeding heavily and was later hospitalized. [ARLnow]

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Power outages in N. Arlington at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2021 (map via Dominion)

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Around 3,400 homes and businesses are in the dark in Arlington as a result of a widespread power outage.

Portions of Courthouse, Clarendon and Virginia Square are without power, while a Dominion outage map previously showed a big swath of the residential neighborhoods to the north — extending into McLean — also affected. At the outage’s peak, nearly 5,500 homes and businesses were without power.

Traffic signals are dark at some of the busy intersections along the Orange Line corridor, according to scanner traffic.

On its website Dominion lists an early power restoration estimate of 6-9 p.m.

Reports of the outage came around the same time as the Arlington County Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a blown transformer. The fire department has also been responding to reports of smoke from buildings in the area, potentially linked to generators starting up.

At least one apartment building, Virginia Square Tower at 3444 Fairfax Drive, suffered a reported electrical fire, according to an email shared with ARLnow.

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