PORTLAND – A line of strong thunderstorms is headed toward Portland, but the most severe weather is expected to stay north of the city.

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for much of the southern part of the state until 11 p.m.

Mike Ekster, a meteorologist with the weather service, said the storms are expected to arrive in Portland about 9:30 p.m. and could contain heavy downpours and wind gusts of up to 35 or 40 mph.

He said the strongest storms are expected between Bethel and Sebago.

Most of the showers should clear out by about midnight, Ekster said, with cooler and drier weather Sunday, with highs in the 70s.

He said heavy surf from Hurricane Leslie, which is well out to sea, will probably persist for the beginning of the week.