People caught up in the freak storm have described how the sudden downpour of icy hail created a "complete whiteout" and turned the motorway into an "ice rink".
A total of 24 cars were involved in a pile-up after the freak weather led to treacherous driving conditions on the M55 between Preston and Kirkham at around 9.55pm.
Remarkably, no-one was seriously injured. Two people were taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with minor injuries whilst paramedics treated "dozens" of walking wounded at the scene.
Lancashire Police described the incident as "carnage" and motorists have spoken of "chaos and confusion", with stricken vehicles sprawled across the carriageway.
Yvette Mcdwyerhll managed to drive through the carnage unharmed.
She said: "We just drove through it, it was terrible. Cars all over the road. It was like the apocalypse.
"We just luckily missed being in it by pure luck. We had to drive around the crashed cars, weaving in and out of them.
"It was awful to see. It was freak hail that came out of nowhere."
Jonathan Fenton described the motorway as "carmageddon".
"Having travelled through it, accident would be a bit of an understatement", he said.
"I would call it absolute carmageddon, with at least 20 cars totalled.
"It was so weird. It came from nowhere. It went from black clear road to torrential hail which seemed to just stick and turn the road into a skating rink.
"I slowed right down as my car started squirming. I came back 10 minutes later on the westbound side and literally, over a half-mile stretch, cars were just completely written off.
"We were all completely caught unaware. It was like a mini weather bomb. Absolute carnage."
Christine Hill said the sudden blizzard-like conditions had caught people completely unaware.
"We were actually on the motorway when the freak storm happened", said Christine.
"Luckily we were OK and not involved in any crashes. But my heart goes out to those who were. It was horrendous!
"It was a mess. Many cars involved and the road was full of sleet in seconds!"
Amanda Smith said the M55 looked more like the Arctic than Lancashire.
She said: "I’ve just driven past eastbound at 20mph and I was sliding all over the place.
"There was no warning. It was fine and in a blink of an eye it was like the Arctic.
"It was horrendous. A freak snowstorm for a few hundred metres and it was instantly frozen solid.
"It was proper carnage with roads blocked by crashed cars everywhere."
Mac McManus added: "From bone dry road to inches deep freezing hail and snow in a matter of seconds.
"Never seen anything like it. I was going just under 70 as I was behind an ambulance and only just managed to stop without hitting it.
"Just 200 metres further on and it was completely clear."
Victoria Sheehan said the motorway was blanketed in snow after just a couple of minutes.
"It was very, very thick snow in just two minutes. Just travelled through it. It's absolutely horrendous.
"There are so many cars involved on both sides of the motorway."