Towns along the western edge of Pamlico Sound are preparing for storm surge when Hurricane Irene hits.
" Not surprisingly, storm surge is worst when the wind is blowing water right at you. That makes the exact track of Irene so important. If the center of the storm tracks directly over Pamlico Sound, towns like New Bern and Swansboro could be in for significant surge."
Rick Luettich is the director of the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Science in Morehead City.
Rick Luettich: "I've been here a little over 20 years. This one would be the first one that comes ashore quite as strong as this one's looking and right over the Morehead area, so I'm not sure we've had one quite like this before. "
Luettich says communities along the estuary rivers that dump into the sound are especially at risk.