If the conditions don't generate an El Nino pattern out of the warm Pacific, the trade winds from the east will predominate and push the growing storm over the source of fuel, very warm tropical Atlantic water. Without an El Nino, there is often no winds strong enough from the west to sheer the top off the storm and weaken it. With the major winds from the east and the center of the storm sucking up huge volumes of water, an updraft is created and the natural higher pressure to its outside pulls in the lighter winds from the west that the storm passes through. This results in a tightly packed mass with an open stove top center vent commonly known as the eye and a counter-clockwise circulation. The tighter the spin and the warmer the water, the stronger the storm. As it nears the Caribbean, however, the air gradients ahead of it will determine the continued course. If the north is blocked by a Bermuda high, it can't make the gradual turn to the north which the spinning globe will naturally produce. If there is no blockage, it will start turning north when the conditions are most conducive with pressure and fronts developing. When it turns early, heading close to the United States mainland and the Eastern Seaboard, this is when the geography, winds and currents of the Atlantic can make the Outer Banks a prime target.
Why? Because Cape Hatteras sticks out like a target and it is impacted by two dramatic and powerful currents, the Labrador Current which is moving south with cold water close to shore and the Gulf Stream, which is larger and broader, yet slower, moving out of the Gulf Stream and bringing much warmer water within twelve miles of the beach at the Cape where it collides with the Labrador, hence the creation of Diamond Shoals. That collision is impressive even in calm water, but when it is in the middle of a major storm it is awesome, waves spewing water high like a geyser in the ocean. Since the storms are fueled by warm water, it's almost like the storm has a life of it's own, choosing the warm water to follow if it can. Of, course, a major front or other factor can void that plan, but if you look at hurricane record charts, it's amazing how many storms heading up the East Coast follow very close to that track.
So, what is my message here? Well, quite simply its this. If you plan to vacation on the Outer Banks in August, September or even early October, be aware that your chosen time is the most likely time frame for an Outer Banks hurricane hit. Now, that doesn't happen every year, but it is a not an unusual occurrence either and it should be recognized. Also realize that if you have to leave early, most establishments don't give refunds and even if you plan to come back the following day when the storm passes, it's likely you won't be allowed to. When the all clear to return is given, first responders and year round residents get first choice and often for them it can just be to check on things and save what they can, depending on the seriousness of the event. Just be advised so that you aren't disappointed.
As for me, I like later fall, late October or November and the spring. But even then, a massive nor'easter can blow in without much notice as well. I guess it just means when you choose to visit a beach that's right out there looking like it wants a fight, sometimes it gets one from Mother Nature. I hope the information is worthwhile and I'll pray that we escape major hurricanes again this year across the East.