2022: Choose Your Own Hellscape

A closed section of Interstate 95 near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Both northbound and southbound sections of the highway were closed due to snow and ice. Photo: AP/Shutterstock

First, there was “flurona.” Now, another fresh hell has greeted us mere days into the New Year: Hundreds of people have been stranded in their cars on a highway in Virginia for 20 hours and counting. The traffic standstill, which covered an estimated 50-mile stretch of I-95, was caused by a severe snowstorm that led to hundreds of subsequent accidents. As the New York Times reports, people were trapped inside their cars overnight, many without food and water, forced to decide whether to preserve gas and forgo their heat source or risk draining their car’s fuel. Among those stranded overnight was NBC News correspondent Josh Lederman, who called in to the news show while stuck in his car, as well as Virginia senator Tim Kaine.

As of Tuesday afternoon, local officials were working to respond to the situation and have been able to rescue a number of people, including Lederman. Still, the scene is nothing short of apocalyptic — people passing out rations of a single orange to fellow drivers and creating makeshift bathrooms out of cups in their car. “Some people were seen abandoning their vehicles in snow-covered travel lanes, walking down I-95 to parts unknown,” local traffic reporter Dave Dildine said, per NPR. “Some callers were sobbing and scared.”

It’s unclear how long it will take for all drivers to be rescued. It’s also unclear what to glean from this situation. Keep blankets and provisions in your car? Maybe an external phone charger? Stay home indefinitely? Here’s hoping everyone gets home safely and soon.

2022: Choose Your Own Hellscape