BLOOMINGTON — A tornado watch is in effect until 6 p.m. Friday for most of Central Illinois, according to the National Weather Service.

The area including southwestern McLean and southeastern Tazewell also are under a severe thunderstorm warning until 3:30 p.m. Heavy rain began falling around 3:25 p.m. in downtown Bloomington. 

A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area.

The NWS issues a watch well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather to allow first-responders and residents to prepare if threatening weather approaches.

The watch follows severe weather across Central Illinois on Thursday that caused property damage in numerous communities and confirmation of a tornado touching down in Lincoln in Logan County.

The storms produced funnel clouds, driving rain, hail and high winds that toppled large trees and power lines across the region.

The NWS' latest forecast calls for a "slight risk" of severe thunderstorms across the region Friday afternoon and into mid-evening; they could include damaging wind, large hail and the possibility of isolated tornadoes.

There will be additional periodic chances for thunderstorms

through Wednesday with more severe weather likely Saturday afternoon and evening. 

This story will be updated.

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