The second wintry storm in two weeks to hit the normally warm US South has encased the region in ice, knocking out electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses before pushing toward the heavily populated Northeast.

At least 11 deaths across the region were blamed on the treacherous weather on Wednesday. Nearly 3,300 flights were cancelled.

US President Barack Obama declared a disaster in South Carolina and for parts of Georgia, opening the way for federal aid. In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, palm trees were covered with a thick crust of ice.

The storm has moved northward, threatening to bring more than a foot (30 centimetres) of snow today to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

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Ice covers a statue of wolves outside Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North CarolinaGetty
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Katharine Newton, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, calls her parents while walking more than two miles from campus to her parents' homeAP
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Bella Mapes, 2, carries a snowball as she walks with her family in a park in Charlotte, North CarolinaAP
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A man is pulled up a hill by a truck in Matthews, North CarolinaAP
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Slow moving motorists are seen on a motorway as snow continues to fall in Charlotte, North CarolinaReuters
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The winter storm sweeping over the US south is seen in an image taken by NOAA's GOES-13 satelliteREUTERS/NASA
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Icy snow is stacked up after it was removed from a driveway in Cincinnati, OhioAP
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Snow falls in front of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, which expects up to 8 inches of snowGetty
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Snow ploughs clear lanes on Interstate 75/85 during a winter storm in Atlanta, GeorgiaAP
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Workers examine a downed power cable in Doraville, Georgia. About 175,000 customers were left without power on Wednesday afternoonAP
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A sign warns drivers of winter weather on Highway 141 in Norcross, GeorgiaAP
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Berries are covered in ice in the inappropriately-named in Summerville, South Carolina, after a rare winter ice storm swept across the SouthGetty
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Ice hangs from an electrical power line in Summerville, South CarolinaGetty