Drivers trapped in cars after U.S. snowstorm shuts down I-95 in Virginia

by mcardinal



Drivers in Virginia were stranded in their vehicles overnight as authorities worked to reopen an icy stretch of Interstate 95 closed after a storm blanketed the U.S. region in snow a day earlier, officials said on Tuesday.

I-95, a major north-south thoroughfare, was shut down in both directions near Fredricksburg, about 55 miles (89 km) south of Washington, the Virginia Department of Transportation said.

“Our crews are actively working to get everyone off 95. Plans are underway to guide vehicles currently stopped on the interstate to nearby interchanges, where they can access alternate routes,” the agency wrote said in a Twitter message.

The standstill began on Monday as more than a foot of snow fell in parts of the U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, causing multiple crashes and spin-outs, local media reported. The highway paralysis continued as temperatures dropped below freezing overnight.

State and local emergency personnel worked through the night to clear downed trees, assist disabled vehicles and reroute drivers, Governor Ralph Northam said on Tuesday.

“While sunlight is expected to help @VaDOT clear the road, all Virginians should continue to avoid 1-95,” he tweeted.

Social media was flooded with posts from desperate drivers trapped for hours in their cars in freezing weather.

“We have been stuck here for 10+ hours we have dogs and have to go to the bathroom plus we need gas. No hotels around are open,” one driver tweeted.

Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia was among those stranded, spending the night on his way to Washington but getting nowhere.

“I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol,” the 2016 Democratic vice presidential candidate tweeted on Tuesday morning, including a photo from his car gridlocked between trucks. “My office is in touch with @VaDOT to see how we can help other Virginians in this situation. Please stay safe everyone.”

The fast-moving storm forced the closure of federal offices and schools, grounded airplanes and knocked out electrical power for thousands of residents.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters