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Hundreds of Motorists Stranded in Snow on Highway near US Capital City

Hundreds of motorists, including a U.S. senator, became stuck in sub-freezing temperatures Monday and Tuesday on an interstate highway in (the mid-Atlantic state of) Virginia after a crash during heavy snowfall involving six tractor-trailers.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said both directions of Interstate 95 were closed between the towns of Ruther Glen and Dumfries, located about 50 kilometers south of Washington.

No one was injured in the collision Monday afternoon, but it brought traffic to a halt on the main U.S. east coast highway. Motorists couldn’t move due to accumulating snow, forcing many to spend the night in their cars. One stranded driver told a television station she feared running out of gas.

Among the stranded was Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, who tweeted a photo of his predicament on the highway Tuesday after sunrise. “My office is in touch with VaDOT (the Virginia Department of Transportation) to see how we can help…,” Kaine tweeted 19 hours after beginning his normal two-hour commute to Washington.

Earlier Tuesday, the state transportation department tweeted (at 5:20 a.m. local time) that crews would begin “taking people off at any available interchange” in both directions.

Between 18 and 28 centimeters snow fell in the area Monday, according to the National Weather Service, causing thousands of traffic accidents and stranding vehicles.

Power outages darkened thousands of homes and, the transportation department said, took traffic cameras offline, hindering response efforts. 

More than 277,000 customers remained without electricity early Tuesday, according to poweroutage.us.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.

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