FREDRICKSBURG, Va. — Snowy and icy conditions in Northern Virginia shut down highways on Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, leaving some motorists stuck in their vehicles on Interstate 95 for more than 10 hours.
Some drivers were even forced to spend the night in their cars without food or stable heat in freezing temperatures.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said around 8:30 p.m. ET that the backup was caused by a combination of downed trees and disabled vehicles. As of 5:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, vehicles were still at a standstill in a 50-mile stretch of the interstate from Prince William County to Caroline County.
"We wish we had a timetable, ETA or an educated guess on when travel will resume on I-95. It's at a standstill in our area with multiple incidents," VDOT's Fredericksburg branch said via Twitter. "It's frustrating & scary. Please know our crews don't stop. Crews will work 24/7 until ALL state-maintained roads are safe for travel."
Virginia State Police said no reported crashes on the shut down stretch of I-95, and they do not know how many disabled vehicles there are in the area.
I-95 remains closed in the Fredericksburg area. Snow plows & tow trucks are on the scene. Motorists should plan to avoid travel on I-95 in this area until lanes reopen and significant congestion clears the area. pic.twitter.com/atCkun7zId— VDOT (@VaDOT) January 4, 2022
Randy Anderson, a man from Mechanicsville who was driving home from a vacation in New Hampshire, was one of the many people stranded. He said he made it to Washington, D.C., around 4:30 p.m. on Monday. By 11 p.m., he had only made it 60 additional miles to Fredricksburg.
"Right now, there's three lanes open but it's a lot of trucks," Anderson said. "I mean, you'll move 20, 30 yards and then you're stopped, and you put it in park, and you wait a few minutes, and then you move another 20, 30 yards. I mean, everybody's kind of scratching their heads, what's going on."
He said that he hoped to get home by 1 a.m.
Another driver said they'd been stuck on the road for six hours. One woman said that her brother, his wife and their two small children were forced to sleep in their car.
Virginia State Police have urged people traveling to have a full tank of gas, a cell phone, blankets and snacks in the case they find themselves in a similar situation.
This story was originally published by Leland Pinder on Scripps station WTVR in Richmond, Virginia.