Drivers Stranded Overnight as Snowstorm Shuts Part of I-95 in Virginia

Some motorists remained trapped in their cars Tuesday morning after a 50-mile stretch of the interstate, one of the country’s busiest travel corridors, was closed south of Washington, D.C.,

Some motorists remained trapped in their cars Tuesday morning after a 50-mile stretch of the interstate, one of the country’s busiest travel corridors, was closed south of Washington, D.C.

Interstate 95, one of the busiest travel corridors in the United States, was closed Tuesday morning south of Washington, D.C., after accidents involving several tractor-trailers stranded motorists overnight on the snowy interstate.

The accidents came as the Mid-Atlantic States struggled to recover from a winter storm on Monday that caused at least five deaths.

A 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 was closed in the Fredricksburg, Va., area, leading to long delays on one of the East Coast’s major traffic arteries, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia said the state was sending an emergency message to stranded drivers and trying to reroute them.


Vehicles and drivers were stranded in Arlington, Va., on Monday.Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

On social media, drivers reported being stranded for more than 12 hours.One driver, Arlin Tellez, 22, said in a telephone interview Tuesday morning that she had been stuck on Interstate 95 in Caroline County, about 80 miles south of Washington, since 5 p.m. Monday without any food or water.

Ms. Tellez said that she and a friend had been traveling from Charlotte, N.C., to Washington, where they attend school and that they were staying warm by layering the clothes they packed.

“Honestly, it’s been so horrible,” said Ms. Tellez, adding that a tractor-trailer hit the driver’s side of her car. A state trooper arrived to take an incident report, she said.

Ms. Tellez said information was not being passed down to drivers on the interstate. “There’s just no way for us to know what’s actually happening,” she said. “When we tried to call the police, because at this point that was our only resource, they literally just told us to hang on tight.”

VDOT did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Parts of Virginia received more than 15 inches of snow, and by early Tuesday, more than 270,000 customers in the state were still without power, reported, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States. Tens of thousands of outages were also reported in Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Monday’s storm led to the deaths of at least five people. In Maryland, two women and a man died after their vehicle collided with a snow plow, according to the Montgomery County Police Department. Another man who was in the vehicle was hospitalized in critical condition after the crash, the police said.

The storm also weighed down power lines and caused tree limbs to break. In eastern Tennessee, a 7-year-old girl died after a tree fell on a home, according to ABC 9, a local television station in Chattanooga. And a 5-year-old boy was killed in Georgia after a tree fell onto his home, reported CBS 46, a television station in the Atlanta area.


Snow blanketed the National Mall near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Monday.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Federal government offices in Washington were set to open under a three-hour delay on Tuesday. Several school districts across Northern Virginia and parts farther south, including the Richmond area, announced closures. Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland said it would open two hours late, while several districts in New Jersey announced similar plans.

By Monday night, snow totals in certain areas had exceeded predictions set by meteorologists. In Huntingtown, Md., 15.5 inches of snow was reported, according to the Weather Service. Glendie, Va., saw 14.6 inches, and Ellendale, Del., recorded 14.5 inches. More than eight inches fell in Washington.

The forecast for Tuesday across the Washington region looked favorable, although the combination of clear skies and snow-covered ground was expected to cause “bitterly cold” temperatures in the teens and low 20s, the Weather Service said. Temperatures will climb into the mid- to upper 30s before dropping again overnight. Similar forecasts were set for parts of New Jersey. Clear skies and dry conditions were expected across New York City with temperatures in the mid-30s with gusty winds early on.

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