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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Hurricane Matthew’s howling wind and driving rain pummeled Florida early Friday, starting what’s expected to be a ruinous, dayslong battering of the Southeast coast. The strongest winds were just offshore, but Matthew’s wrath still menaced more than 500 miles of coastline.

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Matthew weakened slightly Friday morning to a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph. But the U.S. National Hurricane Center says it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves closer to Florida’s coast.

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Two million people were warned to flee inland as the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade charged toward Florida. Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.

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