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Chair in tree in Rosslyn’s Hillside Park (photo courtesy John Thomas)

Four years ago, we asked why a stick of deodorant was on top of a Clarendon bus stop.

Today, a new mystery: why is there a cheap plastic chair resting in a treetop in a Rosslyn park? A reader sent us the photos above, showing the chair lodged in some tree branches well above a pedestrian pathway.

“There is a plastic garden chair stuck in a tree about 40 feet off the ground at Hillside Park in Rosslyn,” writes John Thomas. “It might make an interesting story to speculate how it got there. Tornado? Cicadas?”

Trebuchet testing and aircraft door mishap are perhaps some other options that could explain it.

With the caveat that we have yet to contact Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation or the National Weather Service for official comment about what happened, the tornado hypothesis might actually make some sense.

On July 1, an honest-to-goodness EF-1 tornado touched down in Arlington, doing most of its damage in the Waverly Hills, Cherrydale and Lyon Village neighborhoods, before crossing the Potomac and snapping trees on the west end of the National Mall. The damage path finally ended near the South Lawn of the White House.

Between Lyon Village and the Mall, however, the path of the tornado did take it over Rosslyn and… Hillside Park, which is located at 1601 N. Pierce Street.

To better illustrate, here’s a line drawn between Woodstock Park in Arlington, where the tornado damage started, and where it ended. The pin in the center shows Hillside Park.

So unlike the deodorant mystery, which to this day remains unsolved (though a local bar employee’s comment that “people get drunk on the weekends, that would be my best guess,” seems as plausible as anything) it appears that the twister take is a definite maybe for Arlington’s latest head scratcher.

Have any alternative theories? Anything to disprove the tornado hypothesis? Let us know in the comments.

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Tornado Watch area (via National Weather Service)

(Updated at noon) The remnants of Tropical Storm Fred may cause more than just heavy rain today.

Arlington and most of the D.C. area is now under a Tornado Watch. The watch is in effect until 8 p.m.

The area is also under a Flash Flood Watch through 10 p.m. tonight.

Forecasters say conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes, though any such storms should be isolated. Severe thunderstorms are also possible.

Arlington is no stranger to tornados, though twisters are a relatively uncommon occurrence.

Last month an EF-1 tornado caused damage across several neighborhoods near Lee Highway. In April 2017, an EF-0 tornado chopped trees in half at Army Navy Country Club and caused some damage at the Macy’s in Pentagon City. Before that, a long-lived EF-1 twister struck Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County and D.C. in 2001.

More from the National Weather Service:

A FLASH FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT THROUGH 10 PM FOR AREAS ALONG THE INTERSTATE 95 CORRIDOR. ISOLATED INSTANCES OF FLASH FLOODING ARE POSSIBLE AS TROPICAL MOISTURE OVERSPREADS THE REGION.

A TORNADO WATCH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM. ISOLATED TORNADOES AND DAMAGING THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS ARE THE THREATS.

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Morning Notes

Another Rosslyn Redevelopment Planned — “Rosslyn’s aging Xerox Building could soon be replaced with a massive new apartment complex, as the neighborhood’s older properties continue to steadily redevelop. The investment advisory firm TIAA, which owns the building, and its real estate arm, Nuveen, filed plans in Arlington County last month calling for the full overhaul of the property at 1616 Fort Myer Drive. In its place, the companies hope to build a 691-unit apartment building reaching up to 30 stories tall.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington History Museum Reopens — “Having reopened its museum to the public on the nation’s 245th birthday, leaders of the Arlington Historical Society are now looking ahead to completing a top-to-bottom renovation and reimagining of the facility in time for the nation’s 250th… The museum is located in the 19th-century Hume School, located on Arlington Ridge Road. It came into the society’s possession 60 years ago, and is showing its age.” [Sun Gazette]

Last Week’s Tornado, As Seen from D.C. — “Lightning softly flickered inside the body of the storm. The shelf cloud, a smoothed and rounded arc fanning outward just above the ground, was lit from below as it tumbled over the urban glow of Ballston, Clarendon and Rosslyn… I began fixating on a ringed, collar-shaped cloud above the curtains of rain. Shortly before 9 p.m., the lowest portion of the cloud appeared to be curling inward, deviating from the storm’s heading.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Local Swim Club Update — “The Overlee Flying Fish defeated the Donaldson Run Thunderbolts in a rare all-Arlington matchup in the Northern Virginia Swimming League. Overlee won, 236-184, on July 3, keeping the Flying Fish tied for first with the Tuckahoe Tigers at 3-0 in Division 1. Donaldson Run fell to 0-3.” [Sun Gazette]

Nearby: Alexandria Removes SROs — The Alexandria City Council has voted to remove School Resource Officers from city schools, despite opposition to the move from the School Board. Last month the Arlington School Board voted to move SROs off school grounds.  [ALXnow]

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(Updated at 9:30 p.m.) The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado caused the widespread damage seen in several North Arlington neighborhoods today.

The tornado struck around 9 p.m. Thursday night, touching down near the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road. It was rated as an EF1 — the second-lowest on the Enhanced Fujita scale — and cut a 125 yard-wide path of damage as it made its way east through several neighborhoods, before moving into D.C. Maximum winds were estimated at 90 mph.

The twister’s 4.4 mile path ended on the National Mall, between the Washington Monument and the White House. A second tornado, rated EF0, struck near H Street NE in the District, according to forecasters.

Tornado path (via National Weather Service)

In Arlington last night, the tornado uprooted trees, tore siding and shingles off houses, and turned trampolines and branches into projectiles.

Residents tell ARLnow they had just seconds from when their phones started blaring the Tornado Warning, shortly before 9 p.m., and when the rotating storm struck and caused havoc.

Much of the reported damage happened along the well-defined, roughly west-to-east line from the City of Falls Church and through Tara-Leeway Heights, Waverly Hills, Cherrydale and Lyon Village, before crossing the Potomac into D.C. along the National Mall.

Waverly Hills and Cherrydale suffered the worst of the storm’s fury, starting around Woodstock Park and moving along an easterly route just south of Lee Highway. The extent of the damage was evident this morning after the sun came up and chainsaws started buzzing over a large stretch of the neighborhoods.

At Woodstock Park this morning, children were playing despite the tree carnage that littered the park with fallen trees, branches and leaves. Jill Rabach was out surveying the damage to her house, just south of the park. An oak tree was leaning on her home’s roof and her next door neighbor’s fence was crushed by multiple falling trees.

“We heard the Tornado Warning and went to the basement,” Rabach recounted. “About 15 minutes later when all the noise died down we came upstairs and saw a little bit of damage not much. Power was out. By morning it was clear there was much more damage. All the houses on the street lost significant trees.”

“We’ve lived here for 15 years and there haven’t been many storms that blow that hard, that fast,” she added.

The damage continued along 20th Road N., east of the park, with tree crews hard at work clearing branches. Turning right onto N. Utah Street, the road was still blocked by a large fallen tree at 19th Road N.

Heading back up the street, more signs of a violent storm: Multiple downed trees damaged roofs, broke windows and crushed fences; siding from an unknown house lay next to a sidewalk; trash cans were lifted up and blown into neighboring yards. And stuck in a tree near the road was an unusual sight — a large trampoline.

A family in the area said their storm door swung upon so violently it became lodged into and damaged a railing.

“We got the Tornado Warning and within 30 seconds, our front door burst open. And the whole house shook and rattled,” said René Madigan. “Like it all had to have all happened at once. It pulled down all of our power lines… the house next door, it blew their door wide open, too. They have a lot more damage to their home than we have. We were blessed.”

Madigan recounted the sound of the storm as it struck the normally quiet residential neighborhood.

“I heard a horrible sound. Like it was a really horrible sound. And then the whole house just was doing this,” she said, shaking her arms. “And it just happened so fast.”

“Tornado! Get in!” Madigan recalled shouting as the family took cover.

“I heard it and I was in the basement,” Madigan’s husband said of the noise. “First I thought like a big china cabinet fell down. It sounded like… a really loud explosion.”

One street over, and also to the east, residents were out cleaning up. One house had a blue tarp on the roof, but a neighbor said nothing fell on it — shingles were ripped off at the height of the storm.

Over on N. Stafford Street, Jeff Jackson was picking up tree branches across the street from St. Agnes Catholic School in Cherrydale. The Arlington native now lives in Portland, Oregon, but is home taking care of his mother. He was at a friend’s house nearby as the storm approached.

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Update at 6 p.m. — A damage path that cut through several Arlington neighborhoods was from an EF1 tornado, as just confirmed by the National Weather Service.

Earlier: The Arlington County Fire Department responded to “multiple calls for service” after a Tornado Warning was issued for parts of the county.

The fire department said shortly after 9 p.m. that it was swamped with calls and was “prioritizing life threatening emergencies.” Among the most serious calls were a man trapped after a tree fell on his house and an overturned vehicle near Columbia Pike.

“Calls for downed trees, stuck elevators and downed power lines are being addressed as units are available,” ACFD said on social media.

The National Weather Service says it will be surveying storm damage in Arlington to determine whether a tornado touched down.

“The National Weather Service will conduct a preliminary, first-look storm survey tonight in Arlington the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County,” NWS said in a statement. “We will perform a preliminary assessment to determine whether wind damage that occurred… was caused by a tornado or straight line winds.”

The final assessment is expected to be released on Friday.

The storm caused widespread damage and power outages in the county, mostly north of Route 50. As of 11:15 p.m., over 11,000 Dominion customers were still without power in Arlington, according to the power company.

Power outages in Arlington as of 10 p.m. (via Dominion)

Among the reported incidents first responders were dispatched to tonight were a tree down on a house with a man trapped on 16th Street N., several blocks from Washington-Liberty High School; an overturned vehicle on Washington Blvd north of Columbia Pike; and a tree on a car on Route 50 and N. Fillmore Street.

The person pinned in the house by the fallen tree has been rescued and brought to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the fire department said. Two other people were reportedly in the house at the time but made it out okay, according to scanner traffic.

Two people were reported to have suffered significant injuries in the crash involving an overturned vehicle on Washington Blvd, near the Columbia Pike exit ramp. The crash happened around the same time as the storm struck. The two injured people were transported via ambulance to a local trauma center.

There were numerous other reports of trees, light poles and utility lines down, including at:

  • N. Kirkwood Road and 13th Street N.
  • Washington Blvd and Route 50
  • N. George Mason Drive and 22nd Street N.
  • N. Utah Street and 20th Street N.
  • N. Buchanan Street and 22nd Road N.
  • N. Upton Street and 20th Road N.
  • Columbia Pike and S. Adams Street
  • McKinley Road and 9th Road N.
  • N. Illinois Street and 22nd Street S.
  • N. Highland Street and Key Blvd
  • 21st Street N. and N. Nottingham Street
  • Spout Run Parkway at Lorcom Lane
  • 1500 block of S. Clark Street

The likely tornado path, based on weather radar and damage reports, would have taken it east from the Falls Church area, to the Waverly Hills neighborhood and the area around Washington-Liberty High School, and finally over into central portions of the District including the National Mall and Nationals Park.

Residents are being encouraged to stay home or take “extreme caution” if out tonight due to the storm damage.

The urgent alerts for the Tornado Warning sounded just before 9 p.m. as a line of strong storms approached. Arlington was also currently under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning and a Flash Flood Warning.

The original warning, from the National Weather Service:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING…

* UNTIL 930 PM EDT.

* AT 858 PM EDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO WAS LOCATED OVER BALLSTON, OR OVER ARLINGTON, MOVING EAST AT 35 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.

* THIS DANGEROUS STORM WILL BE NEAR… CRYSTAL CITY AROUND 905 PM EDT. NATIONALS PARK, REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT, GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY, ANACOSTIA AND US CAPITOL AROUND 910 PM EDT.

Video footage from around the time of the warning shows dark clouds bearing down on the county as very strong winds whip up, and the shadowy outline of what looks somewhat like a funnel cloud.

As of 9:40 p.m., the National Weather Service said the worst of the storms were over, a welcome contrast to the dire warnings earlier.

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Morning Notes

Tornado Drill Today — “Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will occur on Tues., March 16 at 9:45 a.m. If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for Wed., March 17, at 9:45 a.m. The Statewide Tornado Drill is an opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado threats and to test public warning systems.” [Va. Dept. of Emergency Management]

Pentagon Row Harris Teeter’s Future in Flux — “Despite concerns from nearby residents, Arlington County Board members on March 20 could give the owner of Pentagon Row the ability to, potentially, significantly downsize grocery-store operations… Located on a 15-acre parcel in Pentagon City, the site has long included a Harris-Teeter supermarket. But that initial lease term is expiring, and there is no guarantee the supermarket chain will want to stay in the existing space.” [Sun Gazette]

Coronavirus Tests Available at DCA — “Coronavirus testing launched Monday at Reagan National and Washington Dulles International airports, which became the latest airports across the country to offer the tests. The centers are outside the security checkpoints at both airports and are operated by XpresCheck, which runs centers at a number of U.S. airports.” [Washington Post]

New Building to Have Temporary Hotel Rooms — “Arlington County Board members next month are expected to allow another developer to temporarily convert apartment space to hotel use. The developer of the 809-unit property at 1555 Wilson Blvd. is asking permission to use 100 of the residential units as hotel space starting in late summer. Eventually, the units would revert to their originally intended purpose.” [Sun Gazette]

Cherry Blossom Sculptures Arrive in Arlington — From the National Landing BID: “Two official @CherryBlossFest sculptures have landed! One at the Esplanade at Long Bridge Park and one at the Crystal City Water Park. They will be up through May 31.” [Twitter]

Bill Would Allow 15 MPH Speed Limits in Va. — “Currently, any city or county looking to slow traffic in a busy shopping district or on a quiet residential street can go no lower than 25 mph. A bill passed during this year’s General Assembly session, however, would change that, permitting posted speed limits to drop as low as 15 mph. A ten miles per hour difference may not seem huge, but for pedestrian safety advocates and the families of victims of traffic collisions, the change could mean the difference between life and death.” [Greater Greater Washington]

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Arlington and much of the region is under a Tornado Watch from now through 10 p.m.

Forecasters say storms now forming to the west could pack strong winds and even some tornadoes. Those in the watch zone are urged to keep an eye on the sky, and to take cover if necessary.

More from the National Weather Service:

URGENT – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
Tornado Watch Number 485
NWS Storm Prediction Center Norman OK
340 PM EDT Thu Sep 3 2020

The NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a

* Tornado Watch for portions of District Of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Southern New Jersey, Southeast Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, Eastern West Virginia Panhandle, Coastal Waters

* Effective this Thursday afternoon and evening from 340 PM until 1000 PM EDT.

* Primary threats include… A few tornadoes likely. Scattered damaging winds likely with isolated significant gusts
to 75 mph possible.

SUMMARY…Multiple supercells will likely develop near and north of the greater Washington D.C. area and spread east as a cluster across the coastal plain through mid-evening. A few tornadoes and swaths of damaging winds are likely.

The tornado watch area is approximately along and 85 statute miles east and west of a line from 45 miles north northwest of Wilmington DE to 30 miles west southwest of Patuxent River MD…

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

REMEMBER…A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and 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.

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Arlington and most of the metropolitan D.C. area are now under a Tornado Watch.

While a Wind Advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m., the National Weather Service has added a Tornado Watch on top of it, also through 6 p.m.

Winds are expected to start whipping up this afternoon, and some tornados may spawn as a storm system makes its way through the Mid-Atlantic and up the East Coast.

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A Tornado Watch has been issued for Arlington and the D.C. region as severe storms threaten dangerous conditions amid tonight’s Halloween festivities.

The Tornado Watch is in effect until midnight.

Forecasters warn that a line of storms packing rain and gusty winds will reach Arlington around 9 p.m. Trick-or-treaters and Halloween partiers should seek shelter ahead of the storms.

The National Weather Service issued a special statement about the storm threat:

…DAMAGING LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS LIKELY TO MOVE EAST ACROSS THE AREA BETWEEN MID AFTERNOON AND MIDNIGHT…

A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS IS EXPECTED TO MOVE EAST ACROSS THE REGION. THESE STORMS WILL BRING THE POSSIBILITY OF DAMAGING WIND  GUSTS AND ISOLATED TORNADOES. PLEASE BE SHELTERED WHEN THESE  THUNDERSTORMS PASS THROUGH YOUR AREA.

THE MOST LIKELY TIMING OF THE LINE RANGES FROM MID TO LATE AFTERNOON FOR THE POTOMAC HIGHLANDS, TO THE EVENING FOR THE BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON METROS, TO BETWEEN 9PM AND MIDNIGHT FOR AREAS EAST OF I-95 TO THE CHESAPEAKE BAY. THE STORMS WILL LIKELY LAST AN HOUR OR LESS IN MOST AREAS.

STAY INFORMED. FOR MORE EXACT TIMING FOR YOUR LOCATION, CONSULT THE FORECAST FOR YOUR COMMUNITY AT OUR WEBSITE WEATHER.GOV OR OUR FACEBOOK OR TWITTER FEEDS FOR NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON.

More via social media:

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Update at 2:50 p.m. — The Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been cancelled by the National Weather Service.

Update at 2:30 p.m. — A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued for Arlington.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A * SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR… THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA… SOUTHEASTERN MONTGOMERY COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND… NORTHERN PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND… THE NORTHEASTERN CITY OF FAIRFAX IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… ARLINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… NORTHEASTERN FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… * UNTIL 315 PM EDT. * AT 225 PM EDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED OVER HUNTINGTON, MOVING NORTHEAST AT 45 MPH. HAZARD…60 MPH WIND GUSTS AND QUARTER SIZE HAIL. 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… REMAIN ALERT FOR A POSSIBLE TORNADO! TORNADOES CAN DEVELOP QUICKLY FROM SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS. IF YOU SPOT A TORNADO GO AT ONCE INTO THE BASEMENT OR SMALL CENTRAL ROOM IN A STURDY STRUCTURE. FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A BUILDING. TO REPORT SEVERE WEATHER, CONTACT YOUR NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY. THEY WILL SEND YOUR REPORT TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA. && TORNADO…POSSIBLE HAIL…1.00IN WIND…60MPH

Earlier: A Tornado Watch has been issued for Arlington and much of the D.C. region.

The watch, which is in effect until 9 p.m. tonight, was issued ahead of the arrival of a line of storms packing heavy rain and strong winds.

More from the National Weather Service on Twitter:

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Arlington and the D.C. region is now under a Tornado Watch.

The watch is in effect until midnight tonight. Forecasters say the storms approaching the area may spawn isolated tornadoes.

The region is also under a Flash Flood Watch, with heavy rain expected this afternoon and evening. The expected stormy weather has prompted airlines to allow travelers at Reagan National Airport to change their flights without additional fees.

More from the National Weather Service:

MULTIPLE ROUNDS OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. SOME OF THE STORMS WILL LIKELY BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WIND GUSTS AND ISOLATED TORNADOES.

A FLASH FLOOD WATCH IS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY THROUGH MOST OF TONIGHT FOR THE ENTIRE OUTLOOK AREA.

GALE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE OVER THE WATERS TONIGHT.

With flooding and power outages possible, Arlington County Police are reminding motorists to take extra precautions on the roads.

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