Virginia declared a state of emergency Wednesday night as the Washington DC metro area braced for more snow, days after the region was paralyzed by a monster blizzard that left drivers stranded overnight on Interstate 95.
The nation’s capital could expect to see 1 to 3 inches of snow on Friday morning, while 3 to 6 inches were forecast for the Harrisburg, Va. area two hours west, according to Accuweather.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of the second round of winter weather as he defended the state’s response to Monday’s crisis on a 40 mile stretch of I-95 between Richmond and Washington.
Rainfall gave way to 11 inches of rapidly falling snow as temperatures plummeted, stifling efforts to salt roads. Icy conditions caused a truck to jackknife on the busy interstate Monday afternoon, causing other drivers to lose control. Lanes in both directions were blocked on the highway for up to 16 hours.
“We all need to be clear that this was an incredibly unusual event,” Northam said Wednesday, explaining that work crews were stymied by snow that was falling at the rate of two inches per hour.
“That was entirely too much for us to keep up with,” Marcie Parker, a Virginia Department of Transportation engineer, said. “Consequently, with the amount of traffic that we had on the interstate, the trucks and the cars couldn’t make it up and down the hills because we had too much snow and ice out there.”
Experts suggested that the officials were ill-equipped to deal with snowfall in the region, which typically sees only 14 inches of snow per year.
“I know of snowfall rates of 5 to 6 inches per hour and without the traffic nightmare, we just saw,” Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research, said. “I do think a few more inches fell than predicted in total but not enough to overwhelm the system.”
While no deaths or injures were reported, stranded drivers were still reeling from their frigid and frightening overnight ordeal.
“Not one police (officer) came in the 16 hours we were stuck,” Meera Rao, who was stranded only 100 feet away from an exit, said. “No one came. It was just shocking. Being in the most advanced country in the world, no one knew how to even clear one lane for all of us to get out of that mess?”
With AP wires