Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Rain begins falling from slowly approaching Hurricane Ophelia

The Associated Press

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. — Vulnerable islands were evacuated and mainland schools were closed today as Ophelia again strengthened to a hurricane and wobbled closer to land with a threat of flooding rain.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm's status to a hurricane Tuesday evening, saying maximum sustained winds had reached 75 mph, with higher gusts. The storm was graded a Category One hurricane, but the center said further strengthening was possible in the hours ahead.

A hurricane warning extended from the South Santee River in South Carolina north to Oregon Inlet at Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, meaning hurricane conditions were expected within 24 hours.

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