**This story was updated with information on county school delayed opening at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 14 **
As Montgomery County braces for freezing rain that could potentially lead to hazardous early morning conditions, county schools will be opening two hours late.
According to a statement on the MCPS Twitter account, childcare programs in school buildings may remain open as scheduled, school and administrative offices will open on time, morning pre-K, morning half day head start, and other morning half day programs and field trips are canceled.
Montgomery County officials announced in a news release that a winter weather advisory taking effect at 10 p.m. for the county, in light of freezing rain that is expected to start at around midnight tonight.
“It is expected that freezing rain will begin in the area shortly after midnight, leaving ice accumulations of a glaze to a tenth of an inch before the precipitation transitions to plain rain around midday on Thursday,” county officials said in the release “Hazardous conditions will likely impact the Thursday morning commute.”
Icing could produce downed wires and power outages, and county officials urged motorists and residents to be careful traveling on Wednesday night. The county Department of Transportation’s Storm Operations Center (SOC) will activate at 11 p.m. tonight to monitor weather and treatment operations, the news release stated.
Emily DeTitta, a spokesperson for the county’s Department of Transportation, wrote in an email that county officials have budgeted $3,418,050 for winter storms.
“Due to the unpredictability of snow events, only a minimal amount is budgeted for snow removal and storm operations as a matter of practice,” DeTitta wrote.
A supplemental budget appropriation is sent to the County Council for approval in the spring, after a review of expenses related to staff overtime, contractual services and materials usage, DeTitta wrote.
“The total expenditures vary widely from year to year depending on the weather. I don’t have an estimated amount per storm available. As you can imagine, storm event expenditures differ widely as well depending on response needs,” DeTitta wrote.