EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA - Wind and water are the two main forces of a hurricane. It's an act of nature very familiar to Eastern North Carolina. High waves partnered with high water destroyed a portion of the Bogie Inlet Pier three time. The last was in 2011.
"Storm surge is the situation where the water comes up too high, but the wave height stacked on top of that for us is the real killer," said Mike Stanley, owner of Bogue Inlet Pier.
Storm surge occurs when a hurricane approaches land. The wind pushes the water to shore. Flooding caused by storm surge is the greatest threat to property and lives.
"Storm surge in terms of loss of life is the most dangerous part of a severe storm," said Dr. Rick Luettich, Director of UNC Institute of Marine Sciences.
Storm surge is one of the hardest things to predict. Dr. Luettich has created a computer model to help forecast storm surge.
"You can't get the storm surge right unless you get the storm itself right," said Dr. Luettich.
Dr. Luettich used the model to forecast storm surge during Hurricane Irene. Shaded areas in different colors represent how far and how high the water came onshore.
"You see the colors coming into the Western Pamlico Sound, the Tar-Pam and Neuse Rivers," said Dr. Luettich.
One way coastal communities protect themselves against Mother Nature is by using nature. Sand dunes and vegetation protects the homes and businesses on the other side from the rising water.
"We keep people off the dunes and make sure they're not in them or tearing them down," said Stanley.
It's time to prepare now because it takes one storm to make it a destructive season.