A severe snowstorm in Virginia caused crashes that trapped motorists overnight on I-95 on Monday, January 3rd. The stretch of interstate affected was just south of Washington, D.C. and received about a foot of snow on Monday morning. The snow caused several crashes, including one that blocked traffic for roughly 20 hours.
Travelers were forced to remain in their vehicles overnight, parked on the icy roadway with hundreds of other motorists. Many did not have a surplus supply of food, water, or even gasoline in their car’s tank, but they had cell phones and took to social media to post updates of their predicament.
One traveler, Jim DeFede, posted a video to Twitter joking about the situation.
“There is absolutely no sign that this is going to change anytime soon. This is a complete parking lot on I-95 and the road is nothing but ice,” he said in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday morning.
The temperatures earlier this week were below freezing. DeFede posted that he alternately ran his car’s engine for about an hour to stay warm, then turned it off for a while to save the half-tank of gas in his car. He is a reporter with CBS News in Miami.
DeFede had been sitting on the roadway so long that he said, “I’m not sure but I think I now qualify for Virginia residency.”
Not all stranded motorists were lighthearted about the situation, though. NBC News correspondent Josh Lederman reported from his car on I-95 late Tuesday. He said people collected snow to stay hydrated and kids played on the side of the frozen road. He later broadcast about the situation from his home.
“You don’t expect to making calculations about, all right, do I have enough water to get me through before I get into a kind of trouble situation? Do I have enough gas in my car that’s sitting idle on this highway, it can stay running overnight to keep me warm?” he said.
Winter weather on the East Coast, including between D.C. and Virginia, is known for hard-hitting snowstorms and delays. It seems like most travelers would be at least semi-prepared with a few granola bars in the glove box, a bottle of water, and a jacket. Keeping the top half of the gas tank full is commonsense. Also, these are all tips posted on most road safety websites, which are easily accessible to those familiar with the Internet.
But in keeping with the modern era’s theme, there’s always someone to blame. In his broadcast, Lederman went on to say, “That’s why there are some really serious questions that people are raising today about the response from transportation authorities in Virginia and why they weren’t able to get people off the road faster.”
Ah, it’s the transportation authorities’ fault that a snowstorm happened in winter and a wreck prevented easy access to those stranded on icy roads. What does Lederman expect the road workers to do – strap on some YakTraks (snow spikes for the bottom of your shoes) and hike out to the interstate, then personally escort people off the road? Which would still leave their vehicles stuck in place, which would also be the transportation department’s fault.
No fatalities have been reported due to the incident.