Heavy thunderstorms swept through Maine on Saturday afternoon, knocking out electricity to more than 18,000 customers across the state at one point as trees fell on power lines.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch that was in effect until 8 p.m. for south and south-central Maine counties, including Kennebec, Androscoggin, York and Cumberland.

The storms produced heavy winds and downpours.

Leeds, in Androscogin County, was one of the towns hardest hit, based on how many reports of downed trees the National Weather Service station in Gray received, said meteorologist Mike Cempa.

“There was a very strong storm there,” Cempa said. The storm may have produced a microburst – an intense, damaging downdraft – in the area, he added.

“It is certainly possible, but I can’t say for sure,” Cempa said.

Many people from the neighboring town of Greene also reported trees that had fallen in the road or on telephone lines during the storm, according to an Androscoggin County dispatcher.

The dispatcher added that Sabattus also reported a few trees that fell on telephone wires.

A total of 11,985 CMP customers were without power as of 5:56 p.m., including 4,370 in York County, 1,683 in Lincoln County and 965 in Cumberland County, according to the company. But by 8:11 p.m., the CMP outage total was down to 6,935.

Emera Maine reported more than 6,200 customers were without power in eastern and northern Maine around 6 p.m., but that number had declined to 2,552 by 8:18 p.m.

Flights into the Portland International Jetport from Newark, New Jersey, and New York City were delayed or canceled because of violent storms, the airport said on Twitter.

The fast-moving storms were expected to move out of the state by 6:30 p.m. according to Cempa. A high-pressure front will come in behind the storm, bringing cooler and drier weather for the beginning of the week, he added.

Staff Writer Matthew Daigle of the Sun Journal contributed to this report.

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