CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Good news -- as of 12:45 p.m. Friday, I-65 northbound and southbound are open. According to the Cullman County EMA, traffic is moving smoothly in both directions.
This is a huge change from Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, when the interstate looked more like a parking lot. Icy roads and wrecks brought traffic to a halt just after 12 p.m. Thursday and traffic was stopped completely through the afternoon, evening and overnight hours. It finally got moving again, slowly, on Friday morning around 8 a.m.
Emergency officials opened the Cullman Civic Center as an overnight shelter, providing food and water to people who came in. However, the traffic was stopped for miles in both directions, and thousands of drivers were stopped miles away, stranded. They made the decision to sleep in their cars in the cold.
Many had no food or drink, and ran low on gas. They also had to huddle to keep warm. It was an extremely frustrating night for many.
According to Alabama State Troopers, a semi-truck jackknifed in the southbound lanes and then several trucks pulled over in the northbound lanes of the Interstate, blocking traffic. Troopers were forced to shut down I-65 between mile markers 310 and 318.
The back-up spanned about 10 miles with drivers reporting trouble as soon as they got past Huntsville. The American Red Cross sent trucks and volunteers to provide food and water to some of the drivers stuck in traffic.
There was also no opportunity to pull out of traffic and turn around, because of a cable barrier in the median for most of the way.