Hurricanes come within three or four hundred miles of the Outer Banks almost every year. Hurricane Irene was one that came closer than most. It hit the Outer Banks on August 29, 2011. Most of these storms stay off the coast and do some damage to the beaches. Irene came ashore in North Carolina just south of the Outer Banks and left North Carolina right around the Virginia state line.
This is just about a worst case scenario for locals because a storm with this track causes the sound waters to rise and flood the soundside where most locals live. On the northern Outer Banks there was very little damage to the ocean side vacation rental homes. Here are some before and after shots of the beach areas around Kitty Hawk.
Before and After Looking North at Avalon Pier
Before and After at Kitty Hawk Beach
Hurricane Irene had a storm surge of close to ten feet on Hatteras Island. The above video is the new inlet created by this surge in water trying to get out of the sound.
In the Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Southern Shores and Duck area the storm surge was probably close to six feet. The below pictures were from the morning after the storm.