After cresting at 9.95 feet—and remaining above the N.J. State Police high-water no-wake mark for more than a week—Lake Hopatcong finally dropped below the 9.5-foot mark on Thursday morning, opening up the lake to boaters who want to go faster than about five miles per hour. And the timing is good for those who want to get on the water; the forecast for this weekend calls for sunshine and temperatures reaching 80 degrees by Sunday.
With a particularly rainy late summer and two tropical systems coming through in late August and early September, Lake Hopatcong spent the equivalent of a full month above the high-water mark, restricting boaters from moving at high speeds for safety reasons and in an effort to protect lakefront property. As a result, the end of the summer season and Labor Day weekend remained mostly quiet for lake residents and visitors, with motorboats moving slowly and paddlers, kayakers, sailors, and swimmers enjoying the calm waters. Although the water level fell below the 9.5-foot mark for a stretch, heavy rains the last week of September shot the water level back up above the high-water line until Thursday.
Because of the saturated ground, it doesn't take an out-of-the-ordinary rain storm to make Lake Hopatocng rise quickly again. But for at least the coming week or so, the lake is expected to remain below the high-water mark. So boaters can enjoy at least one more summer-like weekend on the water.