Hundreds of drivers stranded on Interstate-95 after major snowstorm hits U.S.


A major snowstorm stranded hundreds of drivers along a 65 km (40 miles) stretch of Interstate 95 in Virginia on Monday and Tuesday, January 3 and 4, 2022. The gridlock was cleared on Tuesday evening when both northbound and southbound lanes were opened. VDOT said some of the drivers were stranded since Monday morning, describing the situation as unprecedented.

Hundred of drivers were stranded on I-95 in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Monday after disabled vehicles and downed trees left large swaths of the interstate inaccessible. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia was among the motorists stranded on the interstate.1

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), I-95 was closed between exit 152 (Dumfries) and exit 104 (Carmel Church). The traffic was detoured to the nearest interchange between Caroline County and Prince William County.

"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," said Marcie Parker, P.E. VDOT Fredericksburg District Engineer.2

"In addition to clearing the trucks, we are treating for snow and several inches of ice that has accumulated around them to ensure that when the lanes reopen, motorists can safely proceed to their destination." 

"While progress is being made to reopen I-95, we have more than 80 roads closed across the Fredericksburg District with downed trees or utility lines. Drivers are still encouraged to delay travel with most secondary roads and subdivision streets in severe condition."

The gridlock was cleared on Tuesday evening (LT), with less than 20 vehicles still left to be removed from the interstate.

At the height of the storm, nearly 1 million customers were without power from Georgia to Maryland. The worst affected was Virginia where 450 000 customers were affected.3

As of 09:36 UTC on January 5, more than 214 000 customers were still without power — 186 954 in Virginia, 14 783 in Tennessee, 10 258 in Maryland, and 4 774 in Washington.

More than 2 800 U.S. flights and more than 4 400 worldwide were grounded as of midday Monday, according to tracking service FlightAware. Another 10 158 flights were delayed, including 4 000 in the U.S.

At least 5 people have been killed. A 7-year-old girl in Tennessee and a 5-year-old boy in Georgia died after trees fell on their homes. Three others died in Maryland after a vehicle they were in collided with a snowplow.


1 Crews finally free all motorists stranded in I-95 traffic jam – AccuWeather

2 Interstate 95 Closed Through Fredericksburg Area –  VDOT

3 Quick-hitting Southeast to Mid-Atlantic winter storm, nearly 1 million customers without power – The Watchers

Featured image credit: Susan Pahlen (stillshot)

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