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Tahlequah-Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Gary Dotson reads an early winter forecast on a computer at the Emergency Operations Center.

Winter is still a couple of months away, but steps are already being planned for dealing with it when it gets here.

Tahlequah-Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Gary Dotson said he checked the preliminary winter forecast this week online and likes what he sees.

“It says it’s going to be a mild, dry winter,” Dotson said. “That’ll be good news to a lot of people.”

He also said people need to keep in mind how frequently the weather changes in Oklahoma.

In the event it is not so mild and dry, Dotson said plans are in motion to see that the emergency management office is prepared for a winter weather event.

He said the EM team has had to respond to snow and ice storms in recent years, including assisting in setting up shelters.

“We’ve put in some long hours recently when winter rolls through here,” he said.

Dotson said a generator is in place at the courthouse to keep power on in the event of an outage. That will be checked in the near future to make sure it’s properly working.

“It’s a good idea for people and businesses who have generators to check them now,” he said. “You don’t want to find out it’s not working when we have several inches of snow or ice on the ground and power lines.”

Dotson said the EM group has some portable generators for use in the field as well as other equipment.

“We’ll schedule a work day real soon and check all that equipment to make sure it works,” he said.

“We check the batteries on things and check the pressure in tires on our equipment that’s on wheels.”

He said batteries will be replaced, if needed.

“We’re going to make sure all of our stuff is up and running in the event we need to use it for rescues or anything else,” he said.

He said steps are also being taken to be certain the group has emergency contact numbers for agencies such as the Red Cross in the event a shelter needs to be set up during the winter season.

Dotson said the local emergency management group can’t turn it’s attention completely to winter weather because tornadoes and floods are still possible during the latter period of the year.

“Those events don’t just happen in the spring and summer,” he said.

“One of the worst storms we’ve had occurred in October one year.”

Dotson said the people of Cherokee County can be sure that their emergency management office will be prepared if a winter storm or a severe thunderstorm comes through the area.


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