Status Update – Ye Greate Panic of 2018

Just in from the Weather Circus:

WWUS81 KPHI 211548

Special Weather Statement
National Weather Service Mount Holly NJ
1148 AM EDT Wed Mar 21 2018

Warren-Morris-Hunterdon-Somerset-Middlesex-Western Monmouth-
Mercer-Berks-Lehigh-Northampton-Western Chester-Eastern Chester-
Western Montgomery-Eastern Montgomery-Upper Bucks-Lower Bucks-
Including the cities of Washington, Morristown, Flemington,
Somerville, New Brunswick, Freehold, Trenton, Reading, Allentown,
Bethlehem, Easton, Honey Brook, Oxford, West Chester,
Kennett Square, Collegeville, Pottstown, Norristown, Lansdale,
Chalfont, Perkasie, Morrisville, and Doylestown
1148 AM EDT Wed Mar 21 2018

...Major winter storm in progress...

A band of heavy snow continues across the area this morning, with
snowfall rates between a half inch to two inches per hour being
reported, especially in portions of eastern Pennsylvania. Snow
totals of four to seven inches have been reported this morning in
portions of the Lehigh Valley. Snow rates are expected to
increase in northern/central New Jersey in the next few hours and
will continue to be moderate to heavy in eastern Pennsylvania,
with travel becoming very difficult to impossible. Travel is
strongly discouraged!

Uh huh.

parking lot with dusting of snow


The Greate Nor’Easter of March 21, 2018

Yes, I’m writing this a day ahead.

I think this is going to be a colossal fizzle, a seriously missed forecast.

Place your bets. My feel – the Weather Circus is placing way too much faith in computer models on this one… we’ll get snow, but it’s not going to be the crushing disaster (at least in Somerset/Hunterdon/Morris/Warren area) they’re hyping. I expect six inches… maybe ten tops. But more likely six inches of very wet snow, along with some freezing rain and rain.

IF there was still significant snow cover on the ground (there isn’t at least around me) then it might be a bit different, but it’s mostly mud out there.

As usual, my big concern is for the runoff afterwards, what with the streams already running unusually high for the time of year.

In case I’m wrong, I prefer my crow medium-well with salt and a touch of hot mustard.

Additional Storm-related stuff…

Well now it’s snowing/raining/wind howling… and shortly I have to venture out. Wonder if the lights will be on when I return?

Jersey Central Power and Light outage map for New Jersey.

HART Traffic Alert (Hunterdon area)... when it works, it works well – when it works. Today (March 2) it’s working.

NJ 511 table of events: weather-related, “incidents,” detours. The map on this site is useless… don’t bother.


Too much water.

For this week, the flood watches are posted everywhere, as once again we face a deluge… this time with water levels running high, and the ground waterlogged. An inch or two of rain in a short time can cause a serious issue in the local area.

Of course this will happen on a Friday, with both high winds and rain extending into the evening… and on Friday evenings, I’m in a classroom with no windows to see what’s happening outside.┬áLuckily, the classroom building is on fairly high ground. In fact, the college is on comparatively high ground for the area. But it’s surrounded by rivers and creeks.

Over the years, the weather circus has become somewhat more adept at figuring out when we’re likely to have an excess of water. The area is permeated with stream level indicators, which generally update every 30 to 60 minutes (to several websites).

For this reference post, I’m linking to the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

Take the link and you’ll get to a map, with lots of little points marked. Circular points have more data than the others, and the color of the points will tell you if everything is fine (green), with yellow being the warning, red being serious danger and purple… you don’t want to be anywhere near a purple indicator. (In September 1999 the whole page was purple from the effects of Floyd).

For my purposes, I’m interested in a handful of points, starting with the Burnt Mills location. If this gets above 10 feet, I’m going to have to go home a different way. So the next one of interest is North Branch Village. If this goes over 10 feet, the next step is to head east on Rt 22, then up 202/206. Bleh.

For students headed home to the west, if the Whitehouse gauge gets over 6 feet, Rt 22 begins to flood west of CR 523 (near the old Merck hq).

Heading south to Hillsborough, southeast to Bound Brook, or via Manville and River Road (bad idea in a flood watch!), the gauges linked in this paragraph are the ones to monitor.

Note that several of these sites attempt to forecast how high the water will get – take this with a very large cup of salt (a grain is nowhere near enough!). Be sure to check the time of update – sometimes these gizmos fail, right when they’re most needed.

Wonder where I put the rain hat?


In praise of PagePlus X9

PagePlus X9 turns out to have sufficient functionality in layout design to replace InDesign CS3. (See the prior post “Migration” for why I have to change).

PagePlus is a product of Serif, a long-time competitor to Adobe. The Plus line of software is no longer in active development but licenses are still available – PagePlus is $25 from Serif directly, or a bit less in DVD form on Amazon.

Down the road a bit, the company expects to have a more full-featured layout package (Affinity Publisher)… but it’s been pushed back several times. I think the main development effort is in their Photoshop replacement software.

As to PagePlus, so far it’s worked fine for the four-to-eight page layouts I routinely need; shortly I’ll test it on a longer project.


[…tap… tap… is this thing on??]

It’s time to abandon the Adobe-sphere before it abandons me. In October 2017 Adobe decided to kill off the last vestiges of perpetual (non-subscription) licensing for Lightroom… and change the name to “Lightroom Classic.” And making things worse, somewhere in November a routine update broke functionality on my venerable InDesign CS3.

Historically, renaming software to “classic” has been the indicator of abandonment of same, and I expect that’s what Adobe has in mind, as the all-new-shiny Lightroom CC is all cloud-based and mobile and “fun” and made into lightweight eye-candy for the iPhone set.

Now of course I could go with the flow and pay the tribute, which for Lightroom/Photoshop is $10/month, but InDesign isn’t included and that would add another $20/month. Not happening, at least not with me.

I restored CS3 functionality by configuring a Windows 7 Virtual Machine and just installing the bare-bones stuff I need, but that’s a short-term patch, not a long-haul answer. So I’m now evaluating other publishing packages.

Lightroom is the big problem; I’ve been with the package since its first release and thus have a solid ten years’ work in creating a workflow, geotagging and keywording the 25,000+ photos in the master catalog. Right now, there’s nothing quite like LR out there, although there are promises.

Having played with some of the alternative RAW converter/editors, I’m waiting for the ON1 crowd to include digital asset management in their product. Hopefully that comes along soon.