By JOSH NEWTON
Parts of Cherokee County on Friday picked up more than 5 inches of snow atop a layer of ice that fell Thursday, and first responders were preparing for a round of freezing rain over the weekend.
“Temperatures are supposed to get down to like 4 degrees overnight, and roads are pretty well packed, so they’ll be slick and hazardous – treacherous,” said Tahlequah-Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Gary Dotson.
State officials sent out a notice asking emergency personnel – police, medics and firefighters – to check stranded vehicles and mark them with yellow caution tape if no one is inside.
“If people could just stay home, it’ll help a bunch,” Dotson said. “With the freezing rain expected to come in Saturday night, and with the coldness we already had, the main thing is that powerlines could start snapping.”
Dotson said the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent its disaster-relief teams and supplies for first responders into Oklahoma communities ahead of the winter storm that left snow and ice across much of the state.
“We’ve got generators ready if hospitals or other first responders end up needing them,” Dotson said Friday.
“This is probably one of the most-prepared-for storms we’ve ever experienced. Our technology has grown so much and through the past experiences with winter storms, everybody pretty well knows what to do now.”
Dotson said the EM department will continue using the city’s new call-out system to keep Tahlequah residents apprised of emergency situations.
“It’ll be one of our main tools,” he said.
Tahlequah residents can sign up for the city’s callout system by visiting www.cityoftahlequah.com and following the link on the left side of the page to Blackboard Connect. Notices are available in the form of email, text message, or voice call messages.
According to the National Weather Service, parts of Cherokee County were to experience freezing rain or drizzle Saturday and Sunday, with a high in the mid- to high 20s.
Monday is expected to be partly sunny with a high of 29.
Utility crews have advised against going near any power lines that might be downed.