Interstate 95, one of the busiest travel corridors in the United States, was closed early Tuesday south of Washington, D.C., as the region struggled to recover from a winter storm that caused at least five deaths.
“Ice will be problematic into Tuesday where heavy wet snow fell,” the National Weather Service said, adding that frigid overnight temperatures would most likely cause untreated roads to refreeze and produce dangerous travel conditions for the morning commute.
A 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 was closed early Tuesday in the Fredricksburg, Va., area after accidents involving several tractor-trailers, leading to long delays on one of the East Coast’s major traffic arteries, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
On social media, drivers on the interstate reported being stranded for more than 12 hours. Josh Lederman, an NBC News correspondent, said on Twitter that he had been stuck in his car, not moving, for more than seven hours. “The interstate is absolutely littered with disabled vehicles,” he said. “Not just cars. Semis, everything. Nobody can move. People are running out of gas or abandoning vehicles.”
VDOT did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Parts of Virginia received more than 15 inches of snow, and by early Tuesday, more than 280,000 customers in the state were still without power, reported PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States. Tens of thousands of outages were also reported in Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Monday’s storm led to the deaths of at least five people. In Maryland, two women and a man died after their vehicle collided with a snow plow, according to the Montgomery County Police Department. Another man who was in the vehicle was hospitalized in critical condition after the crash, the police said.
The storm also weighed down power lines and caused tree limbs to break. In eastern Tennessee, a 7-year-old girl died after a tree fell on a home, according to ABC 9, a local television station in Chattanooga. And a 5-year-old boy was killed in Georgia after a tree fell onto his home, reported CBS 46, a television station in the Atlanta area.
Federal government offices in Washington were set to open under a three-hour delay on Tuesday. Several school districts across Northern Virginia and parts farther south, including the Richmond area, announced closures. Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland said it would open two hours late, while several districts in New Jersey announced similar plans.
By Monday night, snow totals in certain areas had exceeded predictions set by meteorologists. In Huntingtown, Md., 15.5 inches of snow was reported, according to the Weather Service. Glendie, Va., saw 14.6 inches, and Ellendale, Del., recorded 14.5 inches. More than eight inches fell in Washington.
The forecast for Tuesday across the Washington region looked favorable, although the combination of clear skies and snow-covered ground was expected to cause “bitterly cold” temperatures in the teens and low 20s, the Weather Service said. Temperatures will climb into the mid- to upper 30s before dropping again overnight. Similar forecasts were set for parts of New Jersey. Clear skies and dry conditions were expected across New York City with temperatures in the mid-30s with gusty winds early on.