Arlington, VA

This week’s devastating flash floods may be evidence of a bigger weather pattern shift, some experts say.

The storm that pummeled the Arlington dumped 3.3 inches of rain in one hour Monday morning, breaking the regional record. Some experts say this is part of a larger pattern of wetter weather — and possibly climate change.

The so-called supercell developed in Frederick County, Virginia, where NWS Meteorologist Jason Elliott says cool, dry winds from the north met with warm, wet winds from the south. From there the storm — which was about the side of Montgomery County, Md. — travelled about 20 miles per hour towards southern Maryland.

Unfortunately for Arlington, the heaviest part of the storm travelled down the Potomac River — straight through Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria and D.C. — overwhelming stormwater management systems and filling streets, homes, and businesses with water.

When a rainstorm hits, the runoff water not absorbed into the ground travels into the county’s stormwater pipes. However, too much water can fill the pipes, and flow out of manholes and storm drains.

“Water will then flow underneath of a road or a bridge and a stream will fill up and flow on top of a road or culvert,” said Aileen Winquist, Arlington’s Stormwater Management Program Manager. “That’s where damage can occur.”

Monday’s storm not only turned streams and streets into raging rapids, but also caused sewage backups in homes. Winquist said this is usually caused by water flooding sewer pipes and coming up through the floor drains in basements. It’s a problem residents in Westover and elsewhere face as they continue to recover from the flooding.

The county’s storm and sewer systems are overall in “good condition”, Winquist said, and crews continuing to repair corroded storm pipes and re-line old sewer pipes as needed.

“Typically the storm sewer system is designed for what’s known as a 10 year storm,” she added, referring the federal classification of a storm that has a 10% chance of occurring once every 10 years.

“It was easily raining 5 inches in an an hour, for half an hour,” said Elliot. “And nothing can handle something that heavy in that short a period of time.”

The county keeps a detailed map of every location in Arlington damaged in a flood and uses it prepare for future emergencies and prioritize routine repairs. Winquist declined to share a copy of the map, citing privacy concerns, but noted that Westover was not among the neighborhoods filled with water during Arlington’s last major flood back in 2006.

New flood plains can be caused by a variety of factors, such as problems with the storm water pipes or nearby development projects. But there’s also the issue of storms getting stronger and wetter.

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Update at 9:40 p.m. — The Arlington County Fire Department responded to at least two reports of house fires caused by lightning strikes. The number of outages in Arlington reported by Dominion is now 966.

Update at 7:55 p.m. — Dominion is reporting 934 customers without power in Arlington County in the wake of the storms, which packed high winds and torrential rain. Portions of residential North Arlington appear to be the hardest hit.

Earlier: Arlington is now under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, as strong storms bear down on the county from the northwest.

More from the National Weather Service:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A * SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR… THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA… SOUTHEASTERN MONTGOMERY COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND… NORTHWESTERN PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND… ARLINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… NORTHEASTERN FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… * UNTIL 745 PM EDT. * AT 645 PM EDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED OVER GREAT FALLS, OR OVER HERNDON, MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH. HAZARD…60 MPH WIND GUSTS. SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED. IMPACT…DAMAGING WINDS WILL CAUSE SOME TREES AND LARGE BRANCHES TO FALL. THIS COULD INJURE THOSE OUTDOORS, AS WELL AS DAMAGE HOMES AND VEHICLES. ROADWAYS MAY BECOME BLOCKED BY DOWNED TREES. LOCALIZED POWER OUTAGES ARE POSSIBLE. UNSECURED LIGHT OBJECTS MAY BECOME PROJECTILES. * LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA, GERMANTOWN, ROCKVILLE, BETHESDA, GAITHERSBURG, RESTON, OLNEY, COLLEGE PARK, GREENBELT, LANGLEY PARK, BELTSVILLE, VIENNA, FALLS CHURCH, CORAL HILLS, BLADENSBURG, PIMMIT HILLS, MCLEAN, AMERICAN LEGION BRIDGE AND FORT TOTTEN. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A BUILDING. && HAIL…<.75IN WIND…60MPH

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Arlington is again under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch tonight.

The watch, which goes until 10 p.m., is in addition to a separate Flash Flood Watch through 11 p.m.

Forecasters say severe storms with hail and high winds are possible today in parts of the D.C. area, including Arlington.

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Parts of Arlington are under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning through 5:30 p.m. due to an incoming line of storms.

The storms may pack damaging wind gusts, according to forecasters.

More from the National Weather Service:

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
447 PM EDT THU JUN 13 2019

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR… SOUTH CENTRAL LOUDOUN COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF FAIRFAX IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… WEST CENTRAL ARLINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… CENTRAL FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… EAST CENTRAL FAUQUIER COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF MANASSAS PARK IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… NORTHWESTERN PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF MANASSAS IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…

* UNTIL 530 PM EDT.

* AT 447 PM EDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED OVER LINTON HALL, OR 10 MILES EAST OF WARRENTON, MOVING NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH.

HAZARD…60 MPH WIND GUSTS.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED.

IMPACT…DAMAGING WINDS WILL CAUSE SOME TREES AND LARGE BRANCHES TO FALL. THIS COULD INJURE THOSE OUTDOORS, AS WELL AS DAMAGE HOMES AND VEHICLES. ROADWAYS MAY BECOME BLOCKED BY DOWNED TREES. LOCALIZED POWER OUTAGES ARE POSSIBLE. UNSECURED LIGHT OBJECTS MAY BECOME PROJECTILES.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… CENTREVILLE, RESTON, ANNANDALE, SOUTH RIDING, HERNDON, FAIRFAX, VIENNA, FALLS CHURCH, MANTUA, PIMMIT HILLS, BURKE, LINTON HALL, OAKTON, CHANTILLY, LINCOLNIA, TYSONS CORNER, WOLF TRAP, GREAT FALLS, MERRIFIELD AND BULL RUN.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A BUILDING.

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Arlington County and the entire region is under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch Sunday afternoon and evening.

Storms packing damaging winds and large hail are heading toward the D.C. area from the west, with a cold front that’s expected to lower temperatures and humidity levels.

More from the National Weather Service:

The NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a

* Severe Thunderstorm Watch for portions of District Of Columbia, Western and Central Maryland, Southeast Ohio, Northern Virginia, West Virginia, Coastal Waters

* Effective this Sunday afternoon and evening from 1255 PM until 800 PM EDT.

* Primary threats include… Scattered damaging wind gusts to 70 mph likely, Scattered large hail and isolated very large hail events to 2 inches in diameter possible

SUMMARY…Multiple rounds of thunderstorms are expected to develop this afternoon across the watch area, spreading eastward through the afternoon. The strongest cells in this region will pose a risk of damaging wind gusts and hail.

The severe thunderstorm watch area is approximately along and 70 statute miles north and south of a line from 35 miles west northwest of Charleston WV to 30 miles north northeast of Patuxent River MD.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

REMEMBER…A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. Persons in these areas should be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements and possible warnings. Severe thunderstorms can and occasionally do produce tornadoes.

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Update at 3:10 p.m. — Arlington is now under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. From the National Weather Service:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING…

* UNTIL 400 PM EDT.

* AT 310 PM EDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED OVER CENTREVILLE, MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH.

HAZARD…PING PONG BALL SIZE HAIL AND 60 MPH WIND GUSTS.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED.

IMPACT…DAMAGING WINDS WILL CAUSE SOME TREES AND LARGE BRANCHES TO FALL. THIS COULD INJURE THOSE OUTDOORS, AS WELL AS DAMAGE HOMES AND VEHICLES. ROADWAYS MAY BECOME BLOCKED BY DOWNED TREES. LOCALIZED POWER OUTAGES ARE POSSIBLE. UNSECURED LIGHT OBJECTS MAY BECOME PROJECTILES.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA, CENTREVILLE, WALDORF, RESTON, ANNANDALE, CLINTON, SPRINGFIELD, SOUTH RIDING, FORT WASHINGTON, FAIRFAX, FORT HUNT, VIENNA, GROVETON, FALLS CHURCH, HUNTINGTON, CORAL HILLS, MANTUA, FORT BELVOIR AND PIMMIT HILLS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A BUILDING.

Earlier: Arlington County and most of the D.C. area is now under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch.

Forecasters say storms with heavy rain, large hail, wind gusts up to 65 miles per hours and even isolated tornadoes are possible in the region this afternoon and evening.

More via social media:

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Arlington residents should watch the skies tonight (Sunday) due to the threat of severe storms.

Anyone participating in outdoor activities as part of their Memorial Day weekend, in particular, will want to monitor to the weather Sunday evening. Storms packing “dangerous winds and large hail” are possible.

More from the National Weather Service:

…SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS LIKELY THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING… THUNDERSTORMS ARE LIKELY ACROSS THE ENTIRE AREA THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. SOME OF THE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE SEVERE, WITH DAMAGING WINDS AND LARGE HAIL BEING THE PRIMARY THREATS. ANYONE WHO PLANS ON BEING OUTDOORS DURING THIS TIME SHOULD PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE LATEST FORECASTS. STAY ALERT FOR WARNINGS AND BE PREPARED TO SEEK SHELTER QUICKLY SHOULD THUNDERSTORMS OCCUR. IF YOU SEE LIGHTNING OR HEAR THUNDER, YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE IN HARM’S WAY. THE THREAT FOR THUNDERSTORMS WILL MOST LIKELY BE IN TWO ROUNDS. THE FIRST ROUND THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON MAY BE MORE SCATTERED IN NATURE, BUT AGAIN SOME OF THOSE STORMS WILL BE SEVERE WITH DAMAGING WINDS AND LARGE HAIL. MORE WIDESPREAD SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE LIKELY THIS EVENING INTO THE OVERNIGHT HOURS AHEAD OF A COLD FRONT, AND SOME OF THESE STORMS MAY BE SEVERE AS WELL.

File photo

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Arlington still is not fully recovered from yesterday’s severe thunderstorm, which packed winds near 70 miles an hour and left a trail of destruction in its wake.

N. Glebe Road remains closed between Route 50 and N. Quincy Street in Ballston, as crews continue to work to clear fallen trees, replace splintered utility poles and re-string power lines. It’s a similar story on N. Barton Street between 10th and 12th streets, in the Clarendon area, which is still closed nearly 18 hours after the storm despite.

In Arlington County, as of 9:15 a.m., about 6,400 Dominion customers were still without power — down from an outage peak of about 36,000 customers. The largest remaining outages are in and around the Rosslyn-Ballston and Lee Highway corridors.

Police say the county’s 911 call center received a total of 48 calls for trees down and 39 calls for wires down after the storm. The call center received 130 calls in the first half hour after the storm alone, according to the fire department.

Police and firefighters — as well as Dept. of Environmental Services, Dominion and other utility crews — all worked overnight to restore power and services, mark off and clear downed trees and wires, and direct traffic around closures and non-functioning traffic signals.

More via social media:

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Morning Notes

Landmark Trees Felled During Storm — A well-known, historic oak tree near the Reevesland farmhouse, one of seventeen designated specimen trees on private property in Arlington, was among the trees that fell during yesterday’s storm. Trees were also downed in Arlington National Cemetery; one tree crushed a car. [Twitter, Twitter]

May 23 Storm vs. 2012 Derecho — “The ~36,000 Dominion customers without power in Arlington at the post-storm peak today is just over half the ~68,000 after the 2012 derecho.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Trump HQ Rent Raises Questions — “President Trump was ‘thrilled’ that his campaign acquired northern Virginia office space at ‘bargain basement’ rates, a campaign official told the Washington Examiner in an interview in the plush 14th floor offices overlooking the Potomac River from Arlington, Va. But campaign finance specialists say the ‘steal’ could violate election law, which views below-market rates for rent as an illegal in-kind campaign donation.” [Washington Examiner]

Median Home Price in Arlington Up $100K — “Amazon’s impending move to Northern Virginia has had a significant impact on home list prices in Arlington County, a new analysis by online real estate platform Realtor.com finds. The median list price for a home there has grown 17 percent since last November.” [Curbed]

Amazon Employees Seeking Furnished Apartments — “Oakwood, which already managed a full Crystal City building at 505 18th St. South, recently extended its deal at the property for another five years, Eicholtz said. She said Oakwood is already seeing demand from Amazon employees, but it is not just coming in Crystal City.” [Bisnow]

Another County Board Contender — “Arlington resident Arron O’Dell has qualified to be on the ballot in the Nov. 5 County Board race. ‘My focus is on affordability. I will work to keep Arlington the place we enjoy living in now while controlling costs and taxes’ and ‘making the county more efficient and small-business friendly,’ O’Dell said on a nascent campaign website.” [InsideNova]

Police Chase Ends in Pentagon City — “Alexandria [Police] chased a robbery suspect on NB I-395… Chase reportedly ended at Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street near Pentagon City mall. Three suspects in custody.” [Twitter]

Senators Unveil Metro Funding Proposal — “Metro, which is about to undergo extensive summer track work, would receive $150 million a year for badly needed capital improvements under legislation outlined Thursday by U.S. senators from Virginia and Maryland.” [WTOP, Blue Virginia]

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Update at 8:40 p.m. — Closures along Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, among others, are expected to remain in place into the morning rush hour, according to Arlington Alert.

Update at 7 p.m. — Lee Highway is blocked at N. Nottingham Street, just west of the District Taco, due to a downed tree, according to scanner traffic. Reported power outages are down to about 28,500 in Arlington.

Update at 6 p.m. — Power outages in Arlington have reached a new peak of 35,719 customers, per Dominion’s website. Firefighters, meanwhile, are continue to respond to numerous reports of trees and wires down on houses — and across sidewalks and roadways — as well as a number of vehicle crashes. A tree is reported down on a car at the intersection of N. Kennebec Street and 11th Road N. in the Westover neighborhood, according to the National Weather Service.

Update at 5:20 p.m. — Dark traffic signals is causing gridlock on local roads. A Google traffic map shows significant delays, particularly around the Ballston area. Arlington Public Schools and Arlington Transit buses are reported to be delayed due to heavy traffic.

Video recently posted of the storm arriving in Ballston shows a transformer explosion.

Update at 4:55 p.m. — Dominion has posted the following message on its website about the storm recovery.

Dominion Energy’s northern region has been impacted by severe thunderstorms, which included 70 mph wind gusts and lightning. These locations are the most impacted:

  • Alexandria
  • Fairfax
  • Woodbridge
  • Springfield
  • Leesburg
  • Fredericksburg

Customers have reported several spans of wire, trees and tree limbs down on the ground and over roadways.

We are still getting impacted by this line of storms. Our crews are working as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power. As soon as we are able to do a thorough assessment of the damages, we will be able to establish an estimated time of restoration.

Please stay back from all downed wires or damaged equipment, and call us immediately to report these damages at 1-866-DOM-HELP or 1-866-366-4357. You may also report power outages online by clicking here. If using a generator, please follow your manufacturer’s guidelines to operate it safely.

We appreciate your patience.

Dominion Energy

Update at 4:50 p.m — Due to the extensive storm damage, some parts of Arlington are not expected to have their power restored for hours. Dominion’s map shows the estimated restoration time for some large outages as 5-10 p.m., while others do not have an estimated time of restoration. N. Glebe Road is expected to remain closed south of Ballston, near 4th Street N., for about 12 hours per an Arlington Alert.

Volunteer firefighters have started responding to some calls to help work down the fire department’s backlog, per scanner traffic. Among the calls handled by ACFD are numerous stuck elevators, caused by power outages; several people were just freed from a stuck elevator at Don Tito’s in Clarendon, per scanner traffic.

Update at 4:35 p.m. — Dominion is now reporting just under 35,000 customers without power in Arlington. Among the neighborhoods without power is a large portion of residential north Arlington; several neighborhoods along Columbia Pike; most of Clarendon, Virginia Square and Ballston; Shirlington and Fairlington; and Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge.  

Updated at 4:20 p.m. — Photos from the scene show extensive storm damage to trees and power lines on N. Glebe Road south of Ballston. Police have requested additional units to the area for crowd control. Arlington’s 911 call center is “slammed” with calls and police have a 20-call backlog, per scanner traffic.

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Arlington County and surrounding areas are under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 4:30 p.m.

More from the National Weather Service:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A * SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR… THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA… SOUTHERN MONTGOMERY COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND… CENTRAL PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND… THE CITY OF FAIRFAX IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… ARLINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… CENTRAL FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… * UNTIL 430 PM EDT. * AT 337 PM EDT, SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM MCLEAN TO FAIRFAX, MOVING EAST AT 20 MPH. HAZARD…60 MPH WIND GUSTS. SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED. IMPACT…DAMAGING WINDS WILL CAUSE SOME TREES AND LARGE BRANCHES TO FALL. THIS COULD INJURE THOSE OUTDOORS, AS WELL AS DAMAGE HOMES AND VEHICLES. ROADWAYS MAY BECOME BLOCKED BY DOWNED TREES. LOCALIZED POWER OUTAGES ARE POSSIBLE. UNSECURED LIGHT OBJECTS MAY BECOME PROJECTILES. * LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA, CENTREVILLE, BETHESDA, BOWIE, ANNANDALE, CLINTON, SPRINGFIELD, FORT WASHINGTON, FAIRFAX, FORT HUNT, VIENNA, GROVETON, FORESTVILLE, FALLS CHURCH, HUNTINGTON, LARGO, CORAL HILLS, MANTUA AND FORT BELVOIR. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A BUILDING. && HAIL…<.75IN WIND…60MPH

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