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North Carolina coast feels Florence’s first blast of wind, rain

WILMINGTON/SEA BREEZE, NC: Hurricane Florence’s winds began whipping coastal North Carolina on Thursday as the slow-moving tempest began to unleash fierce rains that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the US southeast. The center of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina’s southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday, enough time to drop as much as 40 inches (1 meter) of rain in places, according to the National Hurricane Center. An estimated 10…