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Clarendon and Lyon Park power outage (via Dominion)

Update at 3:20 p.m. — The number of outages is down to just over 600, according to Dominion. Police are in the process of removing cones from intersections with traffic signals that are working again.

Earlier: More than 3,500 homes and businesses are currently without power in Arlington due to a reported transformer fire.

The outage is centered around the Clarendon and Lyon Park neighborhoods. Initial reports suggest that a tree fell on power lines somewhere in the area and sparked the transformer fire that is causing the large outage.

Traffic signals are said to be dark at numerous busy intersections. Police are responding to assist with traffic control.

Another several hundred Dominion customers were initially reported to be in the dark around Courthouse, though power is back on in most of the neighborhood.

One office worker in Courthouse described experiencing 3-4 power surges that “went through the building like a wind blowing… about 2 minutes from start to finish.”

In addition to calls about non-functioning traffic lights, police and fire radio channels have been busy with reports of smoke coming from sidewalk grates — a normal occurrence in commercial areas during outages, caused by diesel generators starting up.

As of 2 p.m., Dominion’s website estimates a timeframe of between 5-8 p.m. for restoration of power.

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Trees damaged by storm along Military Road at 38th Street N. (photos courtesy Marcia Nordgren)

Saturday night’s severe storms caused significant tree damage in parts of northern Arlington.

The southern reaches of the storms that flooded portions of D.C. and suburban Maryland also packed a punch in Arlington, ripping through the northern corner of the county with heavy rain and high winds. Other parts of Arlington only received moderate rainfall.

“Large trees were blown down along George Washington Parkway at Spout Run Parkway, some up to 4 feet in diameter and up to 50 feet tall,” the National Weather Service noted in a damage report. “Several trees blew down near the intersection of VA-120 North Glebe Road and Military Road.”

The tree damage along Glebe shut down lanes between Military Road and Chain Bridge for several hours that night and again on the morning of July 4.

A reader also reported tree damage near the corner of Military Road and 38th Street N.

“I heard what sounded like a jet engine speeding up, then came an acceleration of tremendous wind and rain,” Marcia Nordgren told ARLnow. “I had zero visibility. Then my trees and branches came down. It appears that they twisted.”

Nordgren said she thought it might have been a tornado that came through, but there was no tornado observed on weather radar — which would have prompted a Tornado Warning — and the National Weather Service tells ARLnow that it is not planning to send a storm survey team to Arlington to investigate the damage.

Meanwhile, the area is set for another series of active weather days between today and Thursday. This afternoon and evening scattered strong to severe thunderstorms are expected in the D.C. region, NWS says.

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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

Another APS Sexual Harassment Incident — “The most recent case of sexual harassment being discussed on social media happened at Swanson Middle School. Students told their parents two weeks ago cheerleaders were being called sexual names and having their body parts touched inappropriately during the school day. The Swanson Middle School principal sent out a letter alerting families… Some say that was only revealed after the community caught wind of the incident which makes them now question — how many situations are not brought to light?” [Fox 5]

Two Libraries Reopening on Sundays — “The slow resumption of Arlington library hours continues on Oct. 31, when Central Library and the Columbia Pike branch will resume Sunday service for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Those two libraries will be open 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.” [Sun Gazette]

Tree Falls Near Wakefield HS — “First tree down across a road that we’ve heard during [Tuesday’s] windy weather… This is reportedly at 25th Street S. and S. Dinwiddie Street, a couple of blocks from Wakefield High School.” [Twitter]

Activists Decry Tree Loss from New Homes — “Arlington County Board members say they will take under advisement concerns that a quirk – critics call it a loophole – in the local zoning ordinance encourages developers to clear-cut certain lots to maximize the footprint of new construction out of proportion to surrounding homes. The matter was raised by activist Anne Bodine at the Oct. 16 County Board meeting.” [Sun Gazette]

More Trees to Be Removed from Water Park — “The board voted 5-0 on Oct. 19 to approve modifications to the plan for the waterpark (located at 1601 Crystal Drive and now being rebranded as National Landing Water Park) that will see seven additional trees removed from the site, while one tree that previously had been slated for removal will be retained… Removing these trees ‘is not ideal,’ acknowledged Olivia Sontag of the county government’s Department of Planning, Housing and Community Development, but staff concluded it represents a fair tradeoff for a package that includes the planting of 11 additional buffer trees.” [Sun Gazette]

Chamber to Help Teach Financial Skills — ” The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the launch of a new program to support early childhood education providers in partnership with 20 Degrees. The Early Childhood Financial Resiliency Accelerator focuses on teaching child care providers the business and financial technical skills necessary to maintain and to grow their businesses and on building a community of practice among child care providers. The program will be available at no cost to the participants thanks to support from Presenting Sponsor Amazon as well as the PNC Foundation.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

TV Station Broadcasts from Outdoor Lab — “The Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Laboratory is a 225-acre facility in Fauquier County that provides a natural classroom for Arlington Public School students. The Arlington Outdoor Lab is designed to give Arlington students an opportunity to learn science, outdoor skills, arts, and humanities in a natural setting. Brian van de Graaf takes us to Broad Run, VA for a look.” [WJLA]

It’s Wednesday — 🍃 Today will be breezy, but less so than yesterday. It will start mostly cloudy, then gradually become sunny, with a high near 67. Northwest wind 13 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Sunrise at 7:30 a.m. and sunset at 6:13 p.m. Tomorrow, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 63.

Get the Morning Notes four hours early on most days (and get text alerts for urgent stories) by joining the ARLnow Press Club.

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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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Update at 11:45 p.m. — Outages in Arlington are down to about 600 customers, according to Dominion.

Update at 5:55 p.m. — Dominion reported approximately 48,000 customers without power in Northern Virginia, including nearly 6,300 in Arlington, as of 5:30 p.m., though those numbers are starting to come down slightly.

There are large reported outages in the Shirlington, Fairlington, Green Valley and East Falls Church areas. There are reports of trees that fell into buildings, including houses and a garden apartment building.

Update at 5:10 p.m. — There are multiple reports of trees and wires down around Arlington after 50-65 mile per hour wind gusts swept through the county. Power is reported out in several neighborhoods and a tree is reportedly blocking a portion of N. Glebe Road near N. Pershing Drive.

As a result of a high volume of calls, the fire department has temporarily reduced its standard response to certain types of alarms, according to scanner traffic.

Earlier: Arlington is under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning as a “wall of wind” arrives from the west.

On an already breezy day — amid a High Wind Warning — the storm front could cause power outages and fell trees.

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A large tree fell amid gusty winds at the intersection of N. Old Glebe and Military road Friday afternoon, bringing down power lines and closing the intersection for an extended period of time.

Police and firefighters responded after the tree fell, though there were no initial reports of injuries nor was anyone reported struck. Tree crews are currently on scene and power crews are said to be en route.

The falling tree knocked down power lines and in turn snapped a utility pole. Just over 100 Dominion customers in the area, mostly in the Arlingwood neighborhood at the far northern tip of Arlington County, are without power.

The tree appears to have narrowly missed a stone sign for the Old Glebe neighborhood.

Dominion’s website says power is expected to be restored tonight. An Arlington Alert says the intersection is expected to remain closed overnight and drivers should seek alternate routes.

Also currently closed: a portion of N. Old Glebe Road near the Madison Community Center.

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Morning Notes

Amazon Nears Thousandth HQ2 Hire — “Even amid the region’s economic shutdown, Amazon has still been staffing up its HQ2 offices in Arlington, quickly approaching its 1,000th hire at the second headquarters campus, said Brian Kenner, head of HQ2 policy. ‘We’ve been very happy with the caliber of candidates,’ Kenner said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pandemic Making Single-Family Homes Pricier — “Could the bloom be off the rose when it comes to urban (or urban-village) living? Figures are preliminary at best, but there is some inkling that the COVID-19 pandemic may be changing patterns among home-buyers. ‘Relatively better performance of single-family homes in relation to multi-family condominium properties clearly suggest migration from the city centers to the suburbs,’ said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association Realtors, in parsing sales data from May.” [InsideNova]

New Arlington Poet Laureate — “Award-winning poet and Marymount University professor Holly Karapetkova has been selected as the second Poet Laureate of Arlington County. During her two-year appointment, which begins July 1, 2020, she will serve as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts, working to raise Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms.” [Arlington County]

Snubbed Business Owners Speak Out — “ASAP Screen Printing is a small business. Yet the Arlington County government did not find the company small enough to deserve assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead providing grants to the likes of” hotels and franchisees of chain restaurants like Subway and Jimmy John’s, writes ASAP owner Mohammad Shiekhy. [InsideNova]

Toppled Tree Knocks Out Power to Neighborhood — A large tree fell, took down utility lines, and knocked out power to more than 100 homes in North Arlington’s Bellevue Forest neighborhood last night. [Twitter]

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(Updated at 3 p.m.) A portion of Old Dominion Drive is closed after a large free fell and landed on a passing car.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. just east of the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and N. Thomas Street, near Dorothy Hamm Middle School and The Horizons Apartments.

The tree fell on a car heading eastbound on Old Dominion Drive, crushing most of the frontend. The driver, who suffered minor cuts and some chest pain, told ARLnow that he did not notice the tree falling until it was too late.

“It was very shocking,” said the driver, Michael. “If I did not have my seatbelt on, we would not be talking right now.”

As of 2 p.m. the road was still closed in both directions, as VDOT crews with chainsaws, a front loader and dump trucks were working to clear the large tree from the roadway. Police are also on scene, helping to direct traffic.

Elsewhere in Arlington, there have been numerous reports of downed trees, branches and wires amid today’s gusty winds.

A tree that fell this morning near the intersection of 23rd Street S. and S. Dinwiddie Street, near Wakefield High School, closed the road and knocked out power to the neighborhood. As of 2 p.m. Dominion’s website reported 124 customers in the area were still without power, with no estimated restoration time.

A Wind Advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m.

Map via Google Maps

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