Hundreds of motorists spent a cold night snowing along I-95 after an accident involving six tractor trailers in Virginia.
Hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight on a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of Interstate 95 in Virginia as heavy snow and an accident with six tractor trailers blocked travel lanes, authorities said.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) confirmed both directions of I-95 remained closed Tuesday around the Virginia city of Fredericksburg.
“Our teams are actively working to get everyone off 95. Plans are underway to divert vehicles currently stopped on the highway to nearby interchanges, where they can gain access to alternative routes,” the agency said in a statement. Twitter message said.
The tractor-trailer collision Monday caused no injuries but halted traffic along the U.S. East Coast Highway as snow piled up. Hours passed with hundreds of motorists posting increasingly desperate messages on social media about the depletion of fuel, food and water.
According to the National Weather Service, more than 30 cm (11 inches) of snow accumulated in areas around the traffic support during Monday’s snowstorm, and thousands of accidents and stranded vehicles were reported across Central and Northern Virginia.
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine tweeted he was one of those trapped in the backup for 19 hours. A scheduled Senate vote was delayed Monday as lawmakers struggled to return to the Capitol.
I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later I’m still not near the Capitol. My office is in touch with @VaDOT to see how we can help other Virginians in this situation. Please stay safe everyone. pic.twitter.com/Sz1b1hZJZ5
– Tim Kaine (@timkaine) 4 January 2022
Virginia State Police have responded to more than 2,000 calls for service due to treacherous road conditions, The Free Lance-Star newspaper in Fredericksburg reported.
To exacerbate the challenges, traffic cameras went offline as much of Central Virginia lost power in the storm, VDOT said. According to poweroutage.us, more than 281,000 customers were left without electricity on Tuesday after heavy snow fell on trees and power lines.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Emily Clementson, a truck driver, told NBC Washington. She encouraged motorists to ask truck drivers if they have food or water to share, as many carry extra supplies in case they get stranded. VDOT tweeted to the stranded drivers that reinforcements were arriving from other states to help get them moving again.
“We wish we had a timetable, ETA or an educated guess as to when travel will resume on I-95. It stands still in our area with several incidents,” the tweet read. “It’s frustrating and frightening. Know “Please do not stop our teams. Teams will work 24/7 until ALL roads maintained by the state are safe for travel.”
State police have warned people to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary, especially as evening and icy temperatures set in.
“Due to the heavy snowfall concentrated in that area, road conditions quickly became treacherous for commercial and passenger vehicles,” state police said in a press release.
“VSP troops, wreckage workers and VDOT teams continue to work as fast as the weather and roads will allow it to safely clear trapped vehicles and get traffic moving on I-95 again.”
– ۩͇̿ V͇̿I͇̿P͇̿ ۩🎼 (@ muad94_) 4 January 2022
Social media was flooded with posts from desperate drivers who were trapped in their cars for hours in icy weather.
“We have been stuck here for 10+ hours, we have dogs and have to go to the bathroom and we need gas. No hotels around are open, “tweeted one driver.
The fast-moving storm forced the closure of federal offices and schools, grounded planes and knocked out electric power to thousands of residents.
State and local emergency personnel worked through the night to clear felled trees, assist disabled vehicles and divert drivers, Governor Ralph Northam said Tuesday.
“While sunlight is expected to help @VaDOT clear the road, all Virginians should continue to avoid 1-95,” he tweeted.