HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — With severe storms expected throughout our area on Halloween evening, many families are approaching trick-or-treating with concern and communities have responded accordingly.
The expected storms
According to WHSV's First Alert Storm Team, our entire area has been placed in a risk level 3 (out of 5) for severe weather on Thursday evening by the Storm Prediction Center.
The biggest threat with the approaching front will be strong damaging wind gusts, with winds over 50 mph. possible. Any shower or storm can contain high to damaging winds. Additional threats will be heavy rain, which could lead to localized flooding. There may not even be much lightning with this line coming through, but that won't make a difference. There is the possibility of a tornado, so it is best we all stay on high alert.
The time frame of concern is from 12:00 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. However, the strongest line will be in the area in the 4:00-9:00 p.m. time-frame – in other words, right at the commute and trick-or-treating time.
In response, a number of people contacted us to ask how they could get their local county or city to delay trick-or-treating. Some community members even started a petition calling for Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, and Page County to push trick-or-treating back to November 1.
But for most of our area, trick-or-treating times are up to individual families and communities – not local governments (you can read government responses a little farther down). So many communities have collectively come to decisions to push trick-or-treating back. We have the ones we've been informed about listed below. If your community is delaying events and we don't have you listed, please send us an email at email@example.com.
• Stuarts Draft communities collectively decided, through the popular 'In The Draft' Facebook group, to push trick-or-treating back to Saturday, since many people plan to be at the football game on Friday night. The Stuarts Draft Rescue Squad Haunted House and Ridgeview Baptist Church Safe House will each go on as scheduled on Halloween.
• In Harrisonburg, the following neighborhoods have rescheduled their trick or treating to Friday, Nov. 1: Northwest Neighborhood, Harrisonburg Central Avenue, Madison Village, Lakewood, Barrington, Belmont Estates, Highland Park Subdivision, and Kentshire.
• In Broadway, the Hermitage Hills, Legion Hills, and Broadmoor (subdivision across from Broadway High School) neighborhoods are rescheduling trick-or-treating for Friday night.
• The Meadowbrook Subdivision announced that they're handing out candy to trick-or-treaters both on Halloween night and on Friday, Nov. 1 to let families make their own choices.
• The Sunset Heights and Brookland Subdivisions are planning for trick-or-treating on Friday night. They say homeowners should have a porch light on if they want to participate on Friday night.
• In Weyers Cave, the Harshbarger Subdivision has rescheduled trick-or-treating for the evening of Saturday, Nov. 2 based on community response in a poll on their neighborhood discussion page.
• In Crimora, the Northwood subdivision has rescheduled trick-or-treating for Friday night.
• The town of Grottoes, according to a message posted on a community Facebook page, is largely focusing on Friday night, though some people still plan to trick or treat on Halloween. Community members recommend using a porch light on your home to identify if you're ready as a trick or treating stop on either Thursday or Friday.
• In Churchville, the Crawford Manor subdivision has chosen to push trick-or-treating back to Saturday, Nov. 2 from 5 - 8 p.m.
• The town of Petersburg in West Virginia decided to push trick-or-treating back to Saturday night from around 6 - 8 p.m.
• The town of Franklin in West Virginia has rescheduled trick-or-treating for Saturday, Nov. 2 from 5 - 6 p.m. They'll have activities in the Senior Center parking lot afterward.
Here are responses from each of the government officials we've contacted about how their locality is responding.
• City of Harrisonburg — Mike Parks told us, “We do not get involved in setting trick-or-treating times for the community as a city, but if individual neighborhoods decide to have their own events or designated times, they are open to do so.” The city's Skeleton Festival is also already past.
• Rockingham County — Casey Armstrong said they are not aware of anything being cancelled. The county isn’t hosting anything for them to cancel/postpone as far as he’s aware of. He’s not aware of any requests to make a statement on their website or any concerns from citizens.
Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson issued a statement letting everyone know most Halloween activities in the county have been rescheduled for Friday evening.
• City of Staunton — Ruth Jones-Turner said the city hosted their annual event this past weekend. They have no policy for trick-or-treating on Halloween night. It’s up to the discretion of the citizens, families, and organizers if they want to go out or not.
“We recognize this is a special evening that children and families, in particular, look forward to and enjoy,” said Steve Rosenberg, Staunton city manager. “We urge everyone, especially those with young children, to use their best judgment when deciding whether or not to go trick-or-treating tonight. If you do venture out, please be safe, monitor the forecast, and take shelter in the event of severe weather.”
• City of Waynesboro — The city issued an updated statement a little before 3 p.m. on Halloween encouraging people to postpone trick-or-treating to Friday. Below is the city statement:
Though the City of Waynesboro does not establish the observance of Halloween it is recognized that the forecasted weather is not favorable for outdoor activity and may even threaten the safety of pedestrians and those who might participate in traditional trick or treating. As such, the City encourages residents to conduct outdoor trick or treating activities tomorrow evening, November 1. Further, the City encourages trick or treaters to respect those who might elect not to participate tomorrow evening. Neighbors and neighborhoods are encouraged to coordinate with each other to promote a fun and safe evening. The City Council and Staff wish everyone a safe and Naturally Haunting Halloween.
• City of Winchester — A spokesperson for WInchester said they've received many calls about trick-or-treating, and they normally suggest trick-or-treating from dusk to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31 for safety reasons, but they do not regulate the practice, so neighborhoods are free to choose their own days and times.
• Augusta County — A county official said they've received multiple calls from citizens about Halloween and the forecast. "While the County does not govern Halloween activities, the Augusta County Board of Supervisors is concerned about the safety and well-being of their citizens who may be participating in Halloween activities on Thursday evening," a statement read. "Therefore, the Board encourages citizens to use caution and if needed consider another night as a safer alternative."
• Town of Luray — Due to severe weather conditions, the town chose to move their 'Halloween in Downtown Luray' event to Friday, Nov. 1 from 4 - 6:30 p.m.
• Town of Mount Jackson — The town posted to their official Facebook page that trick-or-treating will still be on from 6 - 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31.
• Town of Strasburg — The town police department said on Wednesday that trick-or-treating would be on, rain or shine, from 5 - 8 p.m. on Halloween.
• Town of Woodstock — The town police department said neither they nor the town government regulate trick-or-treating hours, but they say dusk to 9 p.m. is the regular time. They advise anyone planning to go in the storms to use caution and advise homeowners who don't wish to give out candy in the rain to follow the 'porch light rule.'
Events across our area
As far as planned events, below are events that have been confirmed to WHSV as canceled for Halloween evening:
• Downtown Waynesboro Trick or Treat and Costume Contest hosted by the Waynesboro Kiwanis Club — The city had mentioned a big event hosted by the Kiwanis Club, but on Wednesday evening, the club met and decided to cancel the event altogether, with no postponement date. An organizer told WHSV that the event, originally scheduled from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 31, has been canceled "due to the severe weather forecast and the safety and concern for the children and families."
• Town of Stanley's Halloween Block Party — Rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
• Town of Luray's 'Halloween in Downtown Luray' — Due to severe weather conditions, the town chose to move their event to Friday, Nov. 1 from 4 - 6:30 p.m.
• Elkton Halloween Hoo-Doo — Rescheduled for Friday evening
• Bridgewater's trick-or-treating party is still on for Halloween night, but has been moved from the mini golf facility into the Sipe Center from 5 - 8 p.m.
• Glossbrenner United Methodist Church — A trunk-or-treat scheduled for 5 p.m. has been canceled.
• Grottoes Church of Christ — A trunk-or-treat scheduled for Halloween has been canceled.
• Potters House Worship Center — Their Harvest Party has been rescheduled for Sunday, Nov. 3 at 10 a.m.
• Blue Ridge Chapel Trunk or Treat — The church has rescheduled for Friday from 6 - 7:30 p.m.
• Living Stone Church of the Nazarene — Their 'Eats B4 Treats' at the Verona Fire Department has been canceled.
• Weavers Mennonite Church — Their Block Party has been rescheduled for Sunday, Nov. 3, at 5:30 p.m.
According to organizers, the Motor Mile Trunk or Treat involving multiple Harrisonburg car dealerships is still on as scheduled. They say most of their planned events are inside, so they'll be going rain or shine.
The haunted cave at Grand Caverns will also go on rain or shine.
The Stuarts Draft Rescue Squad Haunted House and Ridgeview Baptist Church Safe House will each go on as scheduled too.
You can find a number of other events on our Community Calendar.
It will be a very warm and windy day. After about noon time, we'll have some on and off and scattered showers. Any shower in the afternoon can contain gusty winds and locally damaging winds but the main line will hold off until after about 3/4pm. Then we will not only have strong winds with gusts at 25-35mph, but any shower or storm can contain high to damaging wind gusts. An embedded tornado is also possible. Because of the high moisture content in the air, you will likely not be able to see it if one does form. Please take shelter immediately.
1-1.5" of rain will fall Wednesday evening through Thursday night. Locally higher amounts up to 2" can't be ruled out. Localized flooding is also a concern if any leaves are clogging drains especially. Stay alert in poor drainage areas. Make sure leaves are cleared from drains.
Getting weather alerts
To make sure you are getting weather alerts on your WHSV Weather app, click Settings. Make sure station alerts are on, and then click weather alert types. You can turn on lightning and wind, etc., and you'll get a notification when it's close to your location.
For more of the extended forecast, you can visit: whsv.com/weather.
It is important to be aware of changing weather conditions throughout the day. Make sure you have a way to receive any warnings that may be issued, either through a weather radio or your WHSV Weather app.
If you don't have the WHSV Weather app, you can download it in the App Store or Google Play store by searching for WHSV Weather.
It is always a good idea to have a severe weather plan in place. Know where you would take shelter from a tornado. Basements are ideal, but if you do not have access to a basement, go to the lowest level of your home away from windows, with as many walls between you and the outside as possible.