Twenty hours and counting: The wheels in Virginia go nowhere in massive snowjam catastrophe

Hey, I’m from Los Angeles and lived in Minnesota for nearly 25 years. I’ve been in traffic jams and driven in blizzards. Not once in my life have I spent more than three hours on the road. Thousands of drivers have gotten stuck on the ice and snow in Virginia for as much as a full day, and there’s still no end in sight for most of them:

That’s a cute joke at the expense of Michael Strahan, but this is no laughing matter. It’s already been a long and cold night on I-95, and it might be a long and cold afternoon. Even a sitting Senator is still sitting outside DC:

Reporter Jim DeFede has been on the road even longer, and zings outgoing governor Ralph Northam for the lack of preparation:

At least these folks are still healthy, but that may not last long for some of those stuck in the elements for this amount of time. One driver spoke to Fox News and was overcome with emotion after being stranded for nearly a day. Anthony Oden told Fox that his family has health problems already, and he has end-stage renal disease. He’s glad to finally be at a hospital, but the nightmare was bad enough that he wasn’t sure he would survive it:

Living in the north for as long as I did, I developed the habit of filling the gas tank when it got between half- and three-quarters empty, especially in winter. Drivers need the gas on hand for just these kinds of situations to provide heat if stuck in the snow. But how long can that last, and how many drivers on the southern Atlantic seaboard follow that practice? It’s very likely at this point that cars have run out of fuel by now, which at the very least will add to the logistical problem of clearing the road but might also mean hypothermia and death for those trapped inside. That’s not even accounting for hydration, normal bathroom relief, and so on.

It’s true that Virginia may not see the same kind of consistent, months-long weather like this that Minnesota and other northern states do. They see enough of it, however, to plan and prepare for such contingencies. When this is over, the Virginia legislature had better do a thorough investigation into how hundreds or thousands of drivers got left stranded for a day or longer in potentially deadly conditions. Speaking of which, so far no one’s talking about a body count — but we’ll be fortunate indeed if everyone survived this so far, and the rescue hasn’t happened yet.