After a winter storm pounded the mid-Atlantic and dumped more than a foot of snow in some places, ice and snow stranded scores of drivers on Interstate 95 in Virginia into Tuesday morning.
The storm wreaked havoc on roadways, knocked out power to over 300,000 people in Virginia and Maryland, and resulted in at least five deaths across three states.
Drivers were stuck in their cars overnight on a roughly 50-mile stretch of I-95 near Fredericksburg due to ice on the freeway. The Virginia Department of Transportation tweeted shortly after 8:30 a.m. Tuesday that the interstate was still closed.
People shared their experiences waiting out the traffic jam on social media, where they sat for hours without moving. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said Tuesday morning that he had been stuck in traffic for 19 hours on his way to Washington. Others reported that drivers were getting out of their vehicles and were concerned about food.
Downed trees and black ice remained major issues for much of the state Tuesday morning, according to Corinne Geller, a department spokesperson.
Crews were still treating patches of snow and ice with several inches of accumulation, according to Marcie Parker, the department’s Fredericksburg District Engineer.
“We are aware that many travelers in our region have been stuck on Interstate 95 for extended periods of time over the last 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,” Parker said in statement.
The agency posted a photo of the traffic jam with the caption, “We wish we had a timetable, ETA, or an educated guess on when travel will resume on I-95. It’s at a standstill in our area with multiple incidents. It’s frustrating and scary.”
Since midnight, state police have responded to over 1,000 traffic crashes and assisted over 1,000 motorists, according to Alena Yarmosky, a spokesperson for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
“While sunlight is expected to assist VDOT in treating and clearing roads, all Virginians must continue to avoid the interstate and follow emergency personnel’s directions,” she added.
Parts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Kentucky were affected by the winter storm.
Schools in several states remained closed Tuesday, and as of 8 a.m., some 279,000 customers in Virginia and 27,000 in Maryland were without power, according to the online tracker Poweroutage.us.
According to the National Weather Service, snowfall totals in the Washington, D.C., area ranged from half a foot to a foot.
More than 15 inches of snow fell in Huntingtown, Maryland, the state’s highest total, about 40 miles southeast of Washington. According to the Weather Service, Glendie, just north of Fredericksburg, received more than 14 inches of snow, the highest total in Virginia.
Five people were killed as a result of the weather. A 7-year-old girl died after a tree fell on her home in Townsend, Tennessee, about 30 miles southeast of Knoxville.
A second child, a 5-year-old boy in Georgia, was killed when a tree fell on a home near Atlanta in DeKalb County due to heavy rain and strong wind gusts.
In Montgomery County, Maryland, an SUV and a snowplow collided, killing three more people.
On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a snow emergency and advised residents to stay at home. President Joe Biden’s helicopter was grounded by snow on his way back to the White House from Delaware, so he traveled by motorcade from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.