Thousands of residents have been left without power and at least two people have lost their lives as a snowstorm swept across the US state.  Over 20 inches of snow fell over the weekend, an unusual amount for this time of the year.

The authorities have declared a state of emergency in North Carolina as sleet and rain continues to fall, turning roads into ice rinks and adding to the treacherous conditions. South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia have also been affected by the snowstorm.

Hundreds of cars were involved in collisions during the snowfall and as driving conditions worsen people are being warned to remain vigilant. One man died after a tree fell on his car and another driver died after the vehicle collided with a church, the passenger suffered minor injuries. Officials and a team of specialist divers are searching for a driver after a truck veered off the road and into the Neuse River.

Five families, including young children, have been rescued from their homes in Wilkes County after they were left without power for three days and unable to reach the surrounding neighbourhoods.

It is not uncommon for North Carolina and the surrounding areas to receive heavy snowfall, but this usually takes place during the months of January and February.

As well as chaos on the roads, thousands of flights across the region were also cancelled.

Those who are due to travel to the affected region should check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport. Some flights may still be affected over the next coming days as snow turns to ice.

In the event of a flight being cancelled, it is the airlines responsibility to re-arrange the flight as quick as possible. Compensation will not be available from the airline as the cancellation is due to adverse weather conditions and is classed as an extraordinary circumstance.

For more information read our article on , flight delays and cancellations due to extreme weather.