(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.
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.
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.
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.
— Jesse Ferrell (@WeatherMatrix) July 2, 2021
Residents are being encouraged to stay home or take “extreme caution” if out tonight due to the storm damage.
If you are in Arlington, DC, or nearby in the greater metro area: use extreme caution if out and about tonight. There are likely lots of hanging branches and leaning trees from earlier storms which may fall overnight. Avoid wooded areas, downed wires, and flooded or closed roads.
— NWS Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) July 2, 2021
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.
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.
Hope you don’t mind my cropping. It might just be shadows playing tricks… But lowering (and twist?) from dark area in middle of frame sure looks suspicious. Good correlation to radar velo (by my estimate). Hope Twitter video compression doesn’t kill. pic.twitter.com/bkNRRbSX1s
— Bob Specht (@bobspecht) July 2, 2021
City of Falls Church pic.twitter.com/XNHGsjFRf0
— matthew vaughan (@mvaugh119) July 2, 2021
— Dave Dildine (@DildineWTOP) July 2, 2021
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.
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.
#Alert We are responding to multiple calls for service and prioritizing life threatening emergencies. Calls for downed trees, stuck elevators and downed power lines are being addressed as units are available.
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) April 30, 2021
— Julie Carey (@JulieCareyNBC) April 30, 2021
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.
— Phoenix Robles (@detectedbeats) April 30, 2021
@ARLnowDOTcom power out in parts of south Arlington, definitely Shirlington
— Laura Delhomme (@lavvra) April 30, 2021
LOCATION: N Glebe Rd and 2nd Rd. N.
INCIDENT: Trees Down
IMPACT: Police and Fire units are on the scene of a down tree in the area of N. Glebe Rd. and 2nd Rd. N. Please avoid the area and use an alternative route. An update will be sent when all clear. pic.twitter.com/dO8sBIByUj
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) April 30, 2021
453p: Doppler radar estimate 65 mph winds just above ground near Arlington and widespread 50+ mph gusts racing thru immediate DC area. pic.twitter.com/LunX0X4yie
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) April 30, 2021
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.
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.
INCIDENT: Trees Down
LOCATION: N Old Glebe/Military RD
IMPACT: Intersection anticipated to be closed overnight. Seek alternate routes. pic.twitter.com/m1VkY3HZk4
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) March 26, 2021
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]
(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.
Up our street – this isn't good. pic.twitter.com/6jATfuzryz
— Michael Neubert (@BikesBooksOther) April 10, 2020
Map via Google Maps
Update at 8:50 a.m. — Traffic has resumed flowing in both directions as firefighters were able to secure the line. At least one lane remains blocked.
Earlier: A quick-moving line of storms that packed gusty winds pushed through Arlington during the morning rush hour, downing some trees and utility lines.
The biggest impact thus far is on Columbia Pike, which is blocked at S. Taylor Street by a low-hanging wire.
Drivers should expect significant delays and detours between Four Mile Run Drive and S. George Mason Drive.
INCIDENT: Wires Down
LOCATION: Columbia Pk at S Taylor St
IMPACT: Low hanging wires blocking intersection. Seek alternate route. pic.twitter.com/AmKLg97w1A
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) February 7, 2020
Hearing some reports of trees and wires down after line of storms with gusty winds went through Arlington https://t.co/5cXftNZ9UW
— Arlington Now (@ARLnowDOTcom) February 7, 2020
(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) More than 500 Dominion customers — mostly homes — were without power in several North Arlington neighborhoods Wednesday morning.
The outage affected portions of Virginia Square, Cherrydale and Donaldson Run, among other neighborhoods, according to Dominion’s outage map. Power was expected to be restored at some point in the afternoon.
As of 10 a.m. Dominion reported 529 customers in the dark, down from an initial 2,600+ customers without power reported earlier.
Dominion spokeswoman Peggy Fox said the outage was caused by a tree that fell onto power lines.
“The outage was caused by a 3rd party (not associated with Dominion Energy) trimming trees,” Fox told ARLnow via email. “A tree came down on our lines and broke two cross arms and a pole… It caused significant damage and left many customers without power today. We are lucky nobody got hurt.”
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Nearly 400 Dominion customers are reported to be without power in the area around Wakefield High School on this snowy Tuesday night.
The outage follows a report of a live wire that fell across S. Chesterfield Road, prompting a road closure near the high school, according to police radio traffic. Dominion says the outage is caused by a tree on a power line and the estimated restoration time is between 7-10 p.m.
Currently, the outage is mostly affecting the Claremont neighborhood. Earlier, some 3,500 customers were said to be without power in Claremont and portions of surrounding neighborhoods like Shirlington and Fairlington.
Arlington County Police tweeted video of power lines sparking and an apparent transformer explosion on Chesterfield Road near Route 7, encouraging residents to “stay clear of downed trees and power lines.”
WATCH: ACPD officers respond to a downed tree on a power line at S. Chesterfield Road and King Street. Stay clear of downed trees and power lines and report hazards to the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency. More: https://t.co/YKHd1X8XNm pic.twitter.com/Qk4isBW534
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 7, 2020
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) A large tree has fallen and is completely blocking the intersection of Yorktown Blvd and N. George Mason Drive.
Police and firefighters are on the scene. The tree reportedly also brought down power lines at the intersection, which is just down the street from Yorktown High School.
Drivers should expect detours in the area while crews work to remove the tree from the roadway. Eastbound traffic on Yorktown Blvd is being diverted onto 28th Street N., near the high school, according to scanner traffic.
Pedestrian traffic from the high school may also be re-routed.
UPDATE: N George Mason shut down between 26th St and Yorktown Bl. Yorktown shut down between N George Mason and N Dinwiddie. Seek alternate routes. https://t.co/yThuZHMXes
— Arlington Alert (@arlingtonalert) December 4, 2019
Separately, further down Yorktown Blvd from the fallen tree, Arlington County firefighters were on the scene of a possible gas leak at Nottingham Elementary as of 1:30 p.m. The school was evacuated while firefighters investigated a reported gas odor.
A tree has reportedly fallen, blocking the ramp from westbound Lee Highway to I-66, near Rosslyn.
Both lanes of the ramp are currently blocked. Drivers, including the driver of a commuter bus, could be seen heading back up the ramp in reverse. An Arlington County Police officer and VDOT sign truck are now on scene and blocking off the ramp.
Those on Lee Highway hoping to reach I-66 should continue heading westbound to the entrance near Spout Run.
No injuries have been reported as a result of the tree falling.