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LINCOLN — Temperatures are expected to drop to near freezing late Friday across much of Central Illinois.

The National Weather Service said a low of 34 degrees is forecast tonight, with patchy frost after 2 a.m.

"There is a slight chance of freezing temperatures that could damage sensitive vegetation that is not protected," the weather service said.

A Hazardous Weather Outlook has been issued for Macon, McLean, Woodford, Moultrie, Piatt, Christian and other area counties.

The weather service said the first hard freeze, in which there's a low of 28 degrees or below, typically occurs in late October or the first few days of November.

Sunny skies and a high of 55 degrees is forecast for Saturday.

In northern Illinois, temperatures dropped by up to 15 degrees in less than two hours Friday morning in the Chicago area as a cold front moved in, with a frost expected overnight in areas away from Lake Michigan, according to the weather service.

Temperatures already had dropped in the Sterling-Rock Falls area from 67 degrees at 4 a.m. to 45 degrees at 8 a.m., according to the weather service. Temperatures hovering in the mid- to upper-60s at 8 a.m. dropped into the 40s in some areas as showers and possible thunderstorms end as the cold front enters the area.

"Don't be fooled by this morning's warmth!!" the weather service said in a bulletin. "Bring a sweater, coat, or jacket for this afternoon, you'll be glad you did! A strong autumn cold front will move across the area this morning with gusty westerly winds and falling temperatures behind the front. By evening, it will feel (more than) 30 ... degrees colder than it did ahead of the front this morning!"

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report. 

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