Motorists expressed their anger on social media as they sat in vehicles unable to move and worried about hypothermia after a storm that dropped several inches of snow across the mid-Atlantic and Southeast and left more than 400,000 customers without power.
“As VDOT removes idle vehicles, and plows/treats the road to make it safe to pass while they are removed, (Virgin State Police) (Virgin State Police) soldiers will reach every driver,” VDOT said.
The Fredericksburg area received at least 14 inches of snow from the storm, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in the Baltimore/Washington area. Fredericksburg is located between Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, DC.
An estimated 20 to 30 trucks were stuck on northbound I-95 near the Thornburg exit, according to VDOT, which said tow crews were at the site.
“We know that people have been parked for extraordinary lengths of time leading to these lockdown areas, but we are clearing trucks one by one to break through this blockage, and we will reach every driver and restore the flow of traffic,” Kelly Hannon, communications director for VDOT Fredericksburg, told CNN. .
“Crews continue to work extensively to tow stranded vehicles and block the highway near 136th in Stafford County, then plow and treat the highway to prevent follow-up accidents,” Hannon said. “This also occurs as traffic remains stuck on Interstate 95 northbound at the 117 mile mark in Spotsylvania County.”
Hanun said the power outage disabled traffic cameras in the I-95 area near Fredericksburg where travel was halted, impeding the VDOT’s response.
CNN en Español reporter Gustavo Valdés was among those who got stuck in traffic. He said that when he stopped for gas around 6 p.m., his GPS said he was two hours from Washington. By 1 a.m. on Tuesday, he had not yet arrived.
Valdes said he got off the highway near Quantico, Virginia, but the side roads were also congested. Route 1A, which runs parallel to I-95 in the area, was closed by trucks with cranes, which were preventing icebreakers from crossing.
Valdes said he was considering pulling out to the side of the road to spend the night in his car because he couldn’t find an available hotel room, but traffic started moving again.
He said some four-wheel drive vehicles helped create new tracks across the ice for other vehicles to follow.
It could take several weeks for all that snow to melt, CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said, explaining that the white layer of snow cover reflects sunlight, essentially acting as a coolant that prevents the Earth’s surface from warming enough to melt it.
On average, it takes about three days of temperatures above 50 degrees to melt about 2 to 4 inches of snow, Jawahery said, and the Washington area is expected to remain below that level through at least the weekend.
Officials say 3 people were killed when an SUV crashed into an icebreaker
Three deaths were reported in Maryland after an SUV carrying four passengers collided with a snowplow, according to Montgomery County Police Department spokesman Shera Goff. Goff said two women and a man were declared dead at the scene, and the fourth victim, a man, was taken to a hospital in the area where he is in critical condition.
Goff said an investigation into the cause of the collision was underway.
Officials said two children were killed in the southeast by falling trees on Monday morning.
“There are trees all over the county, especially here in Townsend, because we are at the foothills of Great Smoky National Park,” BCSO Public Information Officer Marian O’Bryant told WVLT. “There are a lot of trees; it was kind of thick, wet snow, so the trees are still falling off right now.”
CNN has reached out to DeKalb County Fire Rescue and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
Winter weather has also slowed travel in New Jersey, with state police reporting 160 accidents and 245 motorists calling for help, according to Colonel Patrick Callahan, the state police superintendent.
In Atlantic City, 9.5 inches of snow was reported.
Governor Phil Murphy said southwestern New Jersey received between 1 and 4 inches of snow, while the southeastern part of the state received 6 to 11 inches.
CNN’s Amir Vera and Michael Jay contributed to this report.