Drivers have been stuck on I-95 in Northern Virginia "for more than 15 hours after multiple trucks crashed amid a major snowstorm that left snow and ice packed onto the road," NBC Washington reported Tuesday morning. "Many drivers are out of gas. They don't have food or water. Some say they have kids and pets in the car."
As of 5 a.m. on Tuesday, traffic along a 48-mile stretch of I-95 was at a standstill in both directions, the Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed. "There's cars and trucks as far as I can see behind me, and in front of me, and it's looked like this for 12 hours," driver Anne Gould told NBC News, stuck en route to Florida.
NBC News correspondent Josh Letterman called in to MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday to describe the 10-plus hours he and his dog have spent trapped in stopped traffic on I-95, about 30 miles south of Washington, D.C.
Virginia State Police attributed the lengthy traffic standstill to a series of crashes — one involving six tractor-trailers — and efforts to reach stranded motorists. State police responded to and cleared 653 crashes and 649 disabled and stuck motorists in Virginia during the first 15.5 hours of the snowstorm, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Maryland State Police said its officers had responded to 199 crashes and 237 disabled or abandoned vehicles as of Monday night, The Washington Post reports.
"The drive is not worth the risk of a crash, getting stuck, injury to you or your passenger, or the cost of a repair," Virginia State Police said in a statement. Many drivers were stranded or got in wrecks after "going too fast for conditions," the department tweeted. "Pls stay off the roads. Limit travel only if necessary."
"This is unprecedented, and we continue to steadily move stopped trucks to make progress toward restoring lanes," VDOT engineer Marcie Parker said in a statement. "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."