DC region prepares for potentially dangerous windstorm

- A dangerous windstorm is threatening to impact the D.C. region Friday as local jurisdictions are issuing warnings for potential power outages and downed trees as a result of the weather.

A High Wind Warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Saturday as the region can expect sustained winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour and wind gusts of 60 to 70 miles per hour. The greatest winds are expected to be between 6 a.m. and noon Friday, according to the National Weather Service. But the strong winds are expected to continue throughout the afternoon and night on Friday.

Officials say residents should secure their belongings and furniture outside of their homes so they don’t become potential projectiles during the windy conditions.

The other big warning from officials across the area is to look out for any downed power lines and trees and report them to emergency officials and your utility company. 

RELATED: Check weather-related closings and delays

“The District is ready for this event and we had calls and meetings throughout the last few days with District agencies and the power companies, including Pepco, to make sure that we have and they have crews on hand ready to restore power once the winds die down,” said Chris Rodriguez, director of D.C.’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “So any power outages will hopefully be short-lived.”

In Fairfax County, officials have shared a graphic from the National Weather Service warning about the potential for 60 to 70 mile per hour wind gusts. It warns of possible long durations of power outages and recommends residents to have flashlights ready, make sure cellphones and other devices are charged and make sure to not run generators inside.

Downed branches and trees are also a concern of this windstorm.

“One of the things that you should be looking out for is any branches that are already broken or hanging, any signs of decay in the trees,” said Lou Meyer, an arborist with the Davey Tree Expert Company. “That can show itself by conks on the tree, some mushroom forms or fungal growth. Also, any significant lean one way or another. Some lean is natural in trees, but if you have noticed it moving over time, that could be a problem as well.

“One of the reasons why trees fail in storms is from oversaturation of the ground. When the ground is really wet from rainfall, the roots don't have as much grabbing power on the soil and that is when the wind blowing causes them to fall over. If your roots are completely exposed or significantly exposed, that could be a problem. After tomorrow, if you see that the heavy rains have washed away a lot of soil from the roots, that could be a sign of concern.”

As far as travel is concerned, some airlines including Alaska Airlines have issued travel advisories for our local airports, which may mean they could offer a waiver if your flight is delayed or canceled due to the weather, so you will want to check with your airline about that.

For those traveling on the roads, the Maryland State Highway Administration is increasing emergency patrols overnight and Friday. Officials warning drivers to watch their speed, especially on bridges.

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