There are a lot of moving pieces right now, so here is a collection of information for you as the Lake Hopatcong area prepares for Hurricane Irene and all of the rain and wind that comes with her.
-The Lake Hopatcong Commission has prepared for the water onslaught by increasing the outflow of the dam at Hopatcong State Park. The goal is to drop the lake 6 inches, but due to the extremely wet summer, the lake is still above the spillway height as of 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. If the water goes above 9.5', a no-wake zone will be in effect until it drops below again. To see the latest water level, click here.
-The Garden State Wakeoff on Saturday is still on -- and renamed "The Calm Before the Storm Garden State Wakeoff." It begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m., with the caliber of the riders increasing throughout the day. Food, music, wakeboarding -- a great way to spend Hurricane Eve!
-The Jefferson Highlights concert, a Johnny Cash tribute band, scheduled for Saturday night is postponed to Sunday, September 18 at 6 p.m.
-What to do with your boat? The best plan is to take it out of the water completely -- Ron Sorensen of Lake Hopatcong Marine said on Friday said he was taking at least 50 boats out of the water. But if you don't have a safe place to put the boat, the decision is less obvious (if you pull it and then a tree falls on it, for example, you might not be thrilled with the move). If you decide to keep your boat in the water, be prepared for the winds to be high (so tie it up thoroughly with strong lines), for excessive rain (so make sure the battery is charged and the bilge pump is working), and for the water level to rise (so either keep the lines loose enough to accommodate that or be sure to check on it and adjust the lines as necessary).
-If you take mass transit or work in New York City, New Jersey Transit rail service and the MTA will shut down completely at noon on Saturday. NJ Transit bus, light rail, and access link services will be suspended at 6 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.
-Things to have on hand for the storm: water, foods that don't require refrigeration or to be cooked (Power Bars, crackers, bananas, etc.), flashlights, any medications you normally take, cash (ATMs and credit cards won't work in a major power outage), batteries, books, board games, battery-powered or crank radio, and any items for infants, the elderly, pets, or those in need.
-If you're worried about broken windows in your home, you can use masking tape to make an X across each pane... it won't prevent the window from breaking, but it helps to prevent the glass shards from going everywhere. Also be sure to move your valuable items into waterproof containers high off the ground. Move any outdoor furniture or items indoors—and do that now, while the weather is nice, rather than putting yourself in harm's way by going out in the storm.