Only major routes in Durham are to be gritted after extra salt supplies failed to arrive.
From Christmas Day, 35% of roads and town centres in the county will be treated rather than the current 45%.
Durham County Council said it had used 28,000 tonnes of salt during the past eight weeks, leaving 12,000 tonnes remaining.
It has requested a further 19,000 tonnes, but this will not arrive until the end of January.
Bob Young, the council's cabinet member for strategic environment and leisure, said: "The council has taken the decision as a precaution after failing to receive further salt supplies despite having placed orders a number of weeks ago.
"I do not believe the county council could have been better prepared for the winter period.
"But because the salt orders we have placed are not being honoured we cannot keep the network maintained to the extent we had originally planned to."