A powerful wind- and rainstorm pounded coastal and inland areas of Maine on Friday, knocking down trees and power lines and interrupting electrical service to more than 56,000 homes and businesses.

The wind picked up around 1 p.m. and pushed its way along the coast and inland. By midafternoon, wind gusts hit maximum speeds of 54 mph at the Portland International Jetport, 54 mph in Turner and 53 mph in Augusta, according to the National Weather Service in Gray.

“The big story today was the wind and the power outages,” said Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist with the weather service.

The wind settled down after 6 p.m. Most areas of southern Maine got about 1 inch of rain. Temperatures were in the 40s.

Throughout the storm, emergency crews scrambled to clear roads in Freeport, Yarmouth, Falmouth, Standish, Limerick, Saco, Biddeford, Alfred, York, Waterboro, Hollis, North Berwick, Kennebunk, Gorham, Windham, Waldoboro, Union, Cushing, Friendship and other towns.

A large tree downed power lines on Cape Neddick Street in York. A fallen tree on Route 1 near the Saco-Scarborough line snarled rush-hour traffic, limiting travel to one lane.

Central Maine Power Co. reported that as many as 36,740 customers were without power just before 6 p.m., including 16,904 in Cumberland County, 9,416 in York County and 2,771 in Lincoln County.

By 11 p.m. the number of CMP customers without power was down to 17,550, including 5,884 in Cumberland County, 3,663 in Lincoln County and 2,097 in York County.

Bangor Hydro Electric Co. reported that 17,819 customers were without power at 9 p.m., including 10,247 in Hancock County, 5,387 in Penobscot County, 1,493 in Washington County, and 692 in Lincoln and Piscataquis counties.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

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