As a blanket of frigid winter air set over the vast majority of the U.S. on Tuesday, interstates from Oregon to Tennessee and beyond became impassable and downright dangerous, with truckers often catching the worst of it.
On I-5 near Eugene, Oregon, major storms on Friday and Saturday backed up at least 12 miles of the interstate, according to David House, public affairs specialist at the Oregon DOT.
"It was something like 20 to 30 commercial motor vehicles for every passenger vehicle in the backup," said House. "We've been warning residents since last week about the unprecedented ice storm and extremely low temperatures. We haven't done this much deicing, sanding and plowing in years."
But those warnings, unfortunately, didn't reach, or simply went unheeded by, many Class 8 haulers.
"Some" trucks were complying with chain requirements, House added. "Some reluctantly put on chains while stopped in travel lanes," said House. "We had trucks stopped in both lanes of travel" putting on tire chains.
This led to an "avalanche of complaints from passenger car drivers, some that got stuck in that stretch for 12 hours," he said. Also, presumably, an avalanche of $800 tickets for ignoring chain requirements, which any vehicle pulling a trailer must heed.
House said he had "sympathy" for the truck drivers, and that some of them even got out of the truck and handed out water and aid to stranded drivers, but ultimately, "it only takes one or two not chained up to block the highway for everybody."
The road crews remain on-scene, and I-5 is now open, though House warned it's "very, very slow going" and a "skating rink" out there as plows can't exactly plow miles and miles of hard ice.
ODOT expects another ice storm today and Wednesday, so avoid the area until Thursday if possible.
Tennessee tells drivers 'stay home'
The Tennessee Department of Transportation strongly urged motorists to stay home for the next 24 hours on Monday night. "TDOT crews are going on their third day of clearing the roads and due to the prolonged weather event, coupled with the dangerously low temperatures, conditions will remain hazardous for at least the next 24 hours," the agency wrote.
"In the mid-state alone TDOT relocated 275 vehicles. In West Tennessee, 82 drivers have been helped in the last 24 hours, and in East Tennessee more than 200," it wrote.
On Tuesday, a jack-knifed tractor-trailer blocked all lanes on I-24 near Chattanooga. Otherwise, interstates have cleared besides a few accidents outside of Knoxville, according to TDOT's realtime traffic page.
Headed into a snowy area North, South, East or West this week? Keep tabs on new road updates via Overdrive's Roads 511 list on X/Twitter aggregating state DOTs' 511 and other travel-info services.
Tesla chargers apparently useless in Chicago cold
Tesla hopes its all-electric Semi will revolutionize the trucking industry, but on Monday, a packed charging lot in the Chicago area saw some very disturbing signs for the ambitious auto maker, according to Fox Chicago.
Local news reported dozens of Tesla owners trying to power up their cars at a supercharging station in Oak Brook. But with temperatures in the single digits and down to zero, they apparently had no luck.
"Nothing. No juice. Still on zero percent," Tesla owner Tyler Beard, who had been trying to get a charge since Sunday, told Fox Chicago. "And this is like three hours being out here after being out here three hours yesterday."
"We got a bunch of dead robots out here," another Tesla owner said of the situation.