A massive storm system could make for a rainy Halloween for trick-or-treaters across the US from New England to Texas.
The ferocious storm system was hurtling from Texas to the northeast early Thursday, threatening to lash a long arm of the US with buckets of rain and high winds as officials in three states postponed trick-or-treating to Friday.
Meteorologists warned people in the Ohio Valley, the lower Mississippi Valley and western Gulf Coast to brace for harsh gusts of wind, hail and even tornadoes – a scary forecast just in time for Halloween revelry.
Trick-or-treating has been pushed to Friday in scores of cities in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio – states expected to bear the brunt of the severe storm system, according to Weather.com.
The trouble was already brewing near Austin, Texas, early Thursday, where heavy train triggered flash floods, forcing scores of people from their homes amid evacuation advisories and prompting helicopter rescues, officials said.
Some areas surrounding the city were slammed by as much as 15 inches of rain, according to Austin-Travis County’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Meanwhile, emergency crews staged 15 water rescues across Austin and Travis counties throughout the early morning, EMS spokesman Warren Hassinger said.
A massive storm system could make for a rainy Halloween for trick-or-treaters across the US from New England to Texas
There was no reported deaths and only minor injuries early Thursday, although Warren Hassinger said there were reports from neighboring Hays and Comal Counties of people calling for help who were trapped in vehicles or clinging to trees.
The Texas Department for Public Safety said there were no firm numbers yet for the four worst affected counties of Williamson, Hays, Comel and Travis, but that there were at least 20 homes affected in Hutto, a town of more than 18,000 in Williamson County.
Austin Energy reported upwards of 12,000 customers without electric power Thursday morning, according to the Associated Press, while Wimberley Independent School District called off classes due to “extreme weather conditions,” according to its website. Schools in nearby San Marcos and Lockhart also cancelled classes amid the nasty weather and snarled traffic, the wire service reported.
The worst of the rain is over for the region, with the storm moving from west to east, according to the department.
“It will have hopefully abated by about 2 p.m. this afternoon,” a data collector at the department said.
“But the run-off is what we worry about – there’s always that danger.”
As the massive weather system barrels eastward, officials are warning people in the Midwest and Northeast to take precautions ahead of the storm.
The Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that locals should stay away from big trees and clear their sidewalks so any flooding can cut a clear path.
Heavy rain may pound the Northeast on Friday, with high wind watches posted for the Great Lakes as well as areas of southern New England and Long Island, according to the National Wather Service.
Officials have warned coastal residents to brace for possible power outages as well as felled trees and power lines, according to Weather.com.
[youtube IWkFgGj-1JY 650]
Happy Halloween 2013!
It’s no mystery that this annual night of fright is chockfull of candy, costumes and chilling decor, but do you know just how many confectionary treats are actually gobbled up on Halloween? Or the amount of cash spent to make all the macabre magic happen?
Here are some facts that will make you the brainiest of the bunch on All Hallows’ Eve:
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest time to carve a face into a pumpkin is 20.1 seconds, achieved by David Finkle of the United Kingdom. He completed the feat on October 7, 2010, while filming a Halloween show for the BBC.
- For some towns in the US, the Halloween theme lasts all year long, thanks to their names. A few that would be especially fun to visit for the holiday: Frankenstein, Missori; Scary, West Virginia; Spook City, Colorado; and Candy Town, Ohio.
- No matter how scary your local haunted house is, it probably can’t top the Haunted Cave in Lewisburg, Ohio. It measures 3,564 feet long, and Guinness World Records named it the world’s longest haunted house in 2010 (until it was beaten by a haunted house in Japan in 2011). Even spookier: It’s located 80 feet below ground in an abandoned mine.
- The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there will be 41.1 million trick-or-treaters ages 5 to 14 in America this year. Parents are expected to spend $1.04 billion on children’s costumes -and if they’re on trend, most of the cash will go toward pumpkin, princess, witch or vampire getups.
- Although the cards may be ghoulish, the sentiment is sweet – according to Hallmark, Halloween ranks as the sixth most popular card-giving holiday, with 19 million cards sent each year. Christmas comes in first place, with a whopping 1.6 billion cards sent each year.
- Halloween candy coffers wouldn’t be the same without California. Why? Because according to the US Census Bureau, the Golden State leads the nation in non-chocolate confectionary production. Out of the 409 sites that manufacture non-chocolate confections in the US, California is home to 45 of them.
- In 1950, Philadelphia-based trick-or-treaters traded in a sweet tooth for a sweet action. In lieu of candy, residents collected change for children overseas and sent it to UNICEF. Subsequently, the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program was born.
- Valentine’s Day is no longer the sweetest national holiday – at least when it come to candy sales. More than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween as for Valentine’s Day; 90 million pounds of chocolate are sold during Halloween week alone. In total, $1.9 billion is spent on Halloween candy each year
- Americans’ enthusiasm to get in the Halloween spirit just keeps growing. According to the National Retail Federation, average spending on Halloween has increased 54% since 2005, with total spending estimated to reach $6.9 billion in 2013.
- A working magician from the age of 17, Harry Houdini (née Ehrich Weisz) became America’s favorite magician and a world-renown legend for his daring escapes. It was only fitting, then, for this master trickster to die on October 31, 1926 – from a ruptured appendix.
- Since its invention in 1898 by the Herman Goelitz Confectionery Co. of Fairfield, California, (now known as the Jelly Belly Candy Co.), candy corn has been wildly popular – so much so that today, more than 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced each year.
- It was just tricks – no treats – for Charlie Brown in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. In the 1966 TV special, he utters: “I got a rock,” while trick-or-treating. The phrase went on to become one of the most famous lines in Peanuts history.
- Halloween wouldn’t be the same without pumpkins, and thankfully, there are plenty of gourds to go around. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, in 2010, the top pumpkin-producing states – Illinois, California, New York and Ohio – produced 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins.
- Due to safety concerns, trunk-or-treating was introduced in 2000 as an alternative to hitting the pavement for candy on Halloween night. Cars are parked in a circle at a school or church parking lot, with event-goers decorating their open trunks and dressing in costume in order to hand out treats
- From its vampy costumes and sweet treats to macabre household decorations, Halloween is big business. So big, in fact, that it’s the second-largest commercial holiday in America – only Christmas surpasses it in sales.
- In 2010, Belleville, Illinois, became the latest city to ban trick-or-treating for kids over 12. Teens can face fines from $100 to $1,000 for going door-to-door (although according to officials, more often than not, over-age Halloween-goers are just given a warning).
- Got leftover Halloween candy? Save it for later! Dark and milk chocolates can last up to two years if stored in a dry, odor-free spot. Hard candy can last up to a year, while unopened packages of candy corn can last nine months.