WILMINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) — High seas are expected off the North Carolina coast this weekend as a low-pressure system is expected to form to the south late this week and move north.

A gale warning will be in effect for most of the state’s coast as the system approaches Thursday, according to the offshore waters forecast issued early Wednesday morning by the National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center in Washington, D.C.

An updated Thursday morning forecast says strong, gusty winds could result in up to 23-foot waves offshore from the Cape Fear area Friday night, according to NWS Wilmington. As the system moves north, 16-foot waves are possible in coastal waters from Oregon Inlet to Ocracoke Inlet on Friday night and Saturday, according to NWS Morehead City.

(National Weather Service)

Small craft advisories have also been announced by both coastal National Weather Service offices, due in part to powerful swells from Hurricane Nigel far to the east combining with the conditions of the developing system.

NWS Morehead City has issued a small craft advisory from 6 a.m. on Thursday to 9 a.m. on Friday for coastal waters from Oregon Inlet to Ocracoke Inlet.

NWS Wilmington has issued a small craft advisory from noon Thursday to 4 a.m. on Friday for Southeast North Carolina and Northeast South Carolina coastal waters, from Surf City down to South Santee River in South Carolina.

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Inexperienced boaters, especially those in smaller vessels, are encouraged to avoid going out in the water during these hazardous conditions, the NWS said.

For beachgoers, there is a high risk for rip currents and dangerous surf conditions, particularly at east-facing beaches and those north of Cape Fear, according to NWS Wilmington.

In addition to gusty winds and hazardous coastal conditions, NWS Morehead City said that localized heavy rainfall that could lead to flooding will be the biggest threat to people.