Trick-or-treaters may be in for something scarier than spooky costumes this Halloween.
The National Weather Service is expecting rain and high winds to pummel the Northern Shenandoah Valley during the afternoon and evening today, just as most of the area’s trick-or-treating events are scheduled to start.
“The timing is not exact yet,” said Ray Martin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Sterling office. He said periods of light rain are expected throughout the day with storms rolling in during the late afternoon or evening.
Though the storms won’t bring thunder or lightning, Martin said high gusts of wind will be upward of 60 mph.
Whenever storms like these are expected, Martin said the Weather Service recommends people stay indoors.
“[It’s] best to be in an area where you can take shelter quickly,” he said. “Vehicles are not shelter.”
Strong winds can topple vehicles or break tree branches that can damage vehicles and endanger people, he said.
“It is something that I wouldn’t want to be out in,” Martin said.
Though the valley doesn’t normally see thunderstorms this late in the season, Martin said high damaging winds are known to happen.
“I would say that we’ve seen systems like this in previous years,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a normal day by any means.”
Temperatures early in the day will be mild, reaching into the low 70s.
“Outside of the thunderstorms, it will be breezy,” Martin said.
Overnight, a cold front will drop the temperature into the 40s.
Accuweather and the National Weather Service are suggesting parents keep an eye on their weather apps for weather changes and to plan dressing their kids in layers for when the temperature starts to drop.
“Halloween is such a fun, once-a-year occasion for both kids and their parents to enjoy,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said in a Tuesday news release. “[W]e want people to be well prepared for a fun and safe night, which must include being properly dressed in addition to other safety precautions.”
Area towns have set official trick-or-treating times for tonight. Events are either rain or shine or don’t specify any plans for cancellation.
• Strasburg: 5-8 p.m.
• Woodstock: dusk to 9 p.m.
• Edinburg: 6-9 p.m.
• Mount Jackson: 6-9 p.m.
• New Market — 5 to 7 p.m.
• Middletown — 6 to 9 p.m.
• Stephens City — 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
• Front Royal — 6:30 to 9 p.m.
The Front Royal Police Department will host Hometown Halloween near the gazebo on Main Street, 6 to 8 p.m. Main Street will be closed at 4 p.m.
The Town of New Market will host trick-or-treating on Congress Street featuring local businesses that will be open and Halloween music with Sound Solutions from 5 to 7 p.m.
My Church will host a trunk or treat from 6 to 8 p.m., rain or shine, at 23749 Old Valley Pike, Woodstock.
Children are encouraged to carry flashlights and wear reflective clothing. Trick-or-treaters should only approach residences that have porch lights on.
Warren County’s hours are the same as Front Royal’s. Frederick and Shenandoah counties don’t have any specific trick-or-treating times, but Frederick suggests residents check with their neighborhood HOAs for any specific rules.
Residents should also consider securing or removing their outdoor Halloween decorations, which could be damaged by the winds.
“If the wind does get strong,” said Martin, “you could see your ghost or goblin decorations a couple blocks away.”