RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Hundreds of cars were stranded for hours Tuesday on Interstate 95 in Virginia as crews cleaned up from Monday’s winter storm.
The traffic jam took place near Stafford County, happening along a 50-mile stretch of I-95 after a crash Monday involving six tractor-trailers.
“We know many travelers have been stuck on Interstate 95 in our region for extraordinary periods of time over the past 24 hours, in some cases since Monday morning. This is unprecedented, and we continue to steadily move stopped trucks to make progress toward restoring lanes,” Marcie Parker, Virginia Department of Transportation Fredericksburg district engineer, said in a statement Tuesday.
Dozens of people contacted WRIC on Tuesday saying it had been a nightmare with no sign of relief as authorities struggled to reach them.
“Everybody right now is just sleeping it off,” said Marvin Romero, who had been stranded in his car with his two daughters since 3 p.m. Monday. “[We’ve been] waiting for the time when we can finally be free from this.”
VDOT confirmed both directions of I-95 remained shut down between Ruther Glen, Virginia, in Caroline County and exit 152 in Dumfries, Prince William County.
“I’m here with my daughter, my other daughter is in the back sleeping, this was totally unexpected,” Romero said. “Thankfully, we had some water. I actually walked around handing water out to people who may need the little I had myself.”
Drivers said they were starving, freezing and worried about running out of gas.
Nina Semesta was among those worried about running out of essentials.
“Right now, it’s below freezing. No easy access to gas, food or water, and we can’t even exit the highway,” Semesta said.
VDOT said crews were “working diligently” to get several disabled trucks off the highway in Stafford and Spotsylvania.
The tractor-trailer collision Monday afternoon caused no injuries but brought traffic to a standstill along the U.S. East Coast’s main north-south highway, and it became impossible to move as the snow accumulated. Hours passed with hundreds of motorists posting increasingly desperate messages on social media about running out of fuel, food and water.
Between 7 to 11 inches of snow accumulated in the area during Monday’s blizzard, according to the National Weather Service, and thousands of accidents and stranded vehicles were reported throughout central and northern Virginia.
There was no immediate timetable for clearing the traffic jam or answers for the drivers. VDOT tweeted to the stranded drivers on Monday that reinforcements were arriving from other states to help get them moving again.
VDOT said it won’t stop working until traffic is flowing.
“Crews will start taking people off at any available interchange to get them,” VDOT tweeted at 5:20 a.m. Tuesday.
On Monday, state police had warned people to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary, especially as evening and freezing temperatures set in.
Virginia I-95 weather: Hundreds of ‘scared’ drivers stranded in 13F cold for 15 hours – with 1 missing father’s funeral
HUNDREDS OF “scared” drivers have been left stranded for more than 15 hours with one man missing his dad’s funeral as temperatures plunged to 13F in parts of Virginia.
Cars and trucks remained gridlocked on Interstate 95 as of 5am local time on Tuesday, while around 400,000 people were left without power.
Fredericksburg saw around 14 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures plunged to bitter lows of 13F overnight.
Meanwhile, around 12 inches of the white stuff fell in Chancellorsville.
Stranded motorists have spent more than 15 hours in huge traffic jams.
Some were left without heat as they had to turn off their car engines to save fuel, WTOP reports.
One person told the outlet that they had been stuck on the interstate with their three kids, including a baby.
Another said he had been stuck in traffic on the interstate for two-and-a-half hours, fearing he would miss his dad’s funeral.
Senator Tim Kaine said he has been stuck on the interstate for 19 hours while heading to Washington DC.
Reporter Dave Dildine said: “Some people were seen abandoning their vehicles in snow-covered travel lanes, walking down i-95 to parts unknown. Some callers were sobbing and scared.”
Kiran Bose told Insider: “There’s snow everywhere. I need to keep the heat on. I’m a quarter tank away from the end.”
He was traveling with four people to Richmond and the journey was expected to take five hours, but it is now 12 hours.
The nearest gas station is around four miles away, but Kiran said he couldn’t walk there because of the slippery roads.
A woman told CBS6 on Monday that her brother, his wife, and their two kids were preparing to sleep in their cars.
Part of the I-95 in Fredericksburg was blocked by “downed trees and disabled vehicles”, according to Virginia Department of Transportation officials.
Pictures show jack-knifed trucks scattered across the highway as cars try to navigate around them, WRC-TV reports.
Hundreds of vehicles were stranded in Prince William County near Woodbridge.
Truck driver Emily Clementson said: “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Around 20-30 trucks were stuck near the Thornberg exit as tow trucks try to rescue stranded motorists.
Cops said that troopers, wreckers, and VDOT crews are working to get traffic moving, but warned they did not have a deadline.
The heavy snow forced many Covid-19 testing and vaccination sites to close.
State police in Virginia warned that any snow that melts is likely to freeze, causing treacherous conditions on roads, warning Virginians not to travel.
Snow also hit parts of Washington DC, Maryland, and even Florida on Monday.
Tiffany Crile, who lives in DeFuniak Springs, Florida captured snowflakes falling on her Ring surveillance video.
She told Fox13: “I was pretty excited to see snow. However, it is extremely cold. My heat is getting its use today.”
In Maryland, salt truck drivers were left stranded on the eastbound Route 50 on highway I-97 when a trailer jack-knifed.
Federal worker Shawn Devroude, 52, told the Associated Press: “It was balmy and foggy yesterday and then six inches of snow this morning, not even 12 hours later.”
He braved the frigid conditions to play with his nine-year-old border collie.
And, graduate student Andrea Klein, 23, told the AP that walking in the snow “marked a return to normalcy”.
Dozens of people in Washington DC took part in a snowball fight on the National Mall on Monday in a contest dubbed “The Battle of Snomicron” – a nod to the Covid variant.
President Biden felt the brunt of the storm as he was whipped by the wild winds while disembarking Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews.
The stairlifts at the base struggled to get through the thick snow, so the commander-in-chief was forced to stay on board for around 30 minutes.
Biden swayed from side to side as he carefully made his way down the stairs.
A Secret Service official walked a few feet behind the commander-in-chief.
The president then entered his motorcade as he navigated the tricky conditions on the tarmac.
Biden traveled to the White House from Joint Base Andrews via his motorcade after his helicopter from Delaware was grounded by the weather.
CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri warned that it could take weeks for the snow to melt.
Javaheri said the white layer of snow reflects sunlight and prevents the ground from warming enough to melt it.
The meteorologist warned that it takes around three days of temperatures above 50F for 2-4 inches of snow to melt.