Drum Inlet initially opened in about 1899, but closed naturally by 1919. It reopened during the 1933 Outer Banks Hurricane, but closed again by 1971. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers then opened New Drum Inlet about 3 miles to the south. In 1999 Hurricane Dennis reopened Old Drum Inlet, but it has again closed. In 2005 Ophelia Inlet was opened by Hurricane Ophelia just south of New Drum Inlet, and later merged with New Drum Inlet
Over the winter of 2008-2009, all of the inlets shoaled and closed up, leaving only Ophelia Inlet.
In September 2011, Hurricane Irene reopened New Drum and Old Drum Inlets and widened Ophelia Inlet.
- David J. Mallinson and others (2008). "Past,Present and Future Inlets of the Outer Banks Barrier Islands, North Carolina". page 12
- Barrier Island Ecology of Cape Lookout National Seashore, NPS Scientific Monograph No.9, Chapter 3