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Hurricane Irene’s main thrust was still a day away from North Carolina but heightened waves began hitting the state’s Outer Banks and rain began falling in the southeastern part of the state Friday as the storm continued trudging toward the East Coast.

National Weather Service meteorologist Rachel Zouzias said rain carried by Irene’s outer bands was reaching the southeastern part of North Carolina. Rain is also falling in South Carolina.

In addition, swells from Irene and 6 to 9-foot waves were showing up and winds were expected to begin picking up later in the day, said Hal Austin, another meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The Category 2 storm currently has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, but it’s expected to be stronger when it hits North Carolina’s coast sometime Saturday.

That’s just the first hit. Irene’s projected path, which CBS News hurricane consultant David Bernard says most computerized models show unusual agreement on at this stage, has it bringing misery to Washington, New York and Boston, with a possible devastating strike directly on New York City over the weekend. As many as 65 million people on the East Coast could be affected.

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