A severe thunderstorm with ping-pong ball-sized hail and strong wind knocked out power for thousands of central Maine households Tuesday evening, leading the National Weather Service to tell people to stay inside and away from windows.

The National Weather Service in Gray issued a severe thunderstorm warning around 6 p.m. for southeastern Somerset County, northeastern Kennebec County and northwestern Waldo County, and later shifted the warning to northern Lincoln County, northwestern Knox County and southwestern Waldo as the storm moved southward.

The weather service warned that although a tornado was unlikely, radar had picked up some weak rotation in the storm.

As many as 4,000 households in Androscoggin, Kennebec, Franklin and Somerset counties were without power Tuesday evening, but the number dropped into the hundreds at some points in the evening. As of 8:13 p.m., about 1,000 households in those counties were still without power, making up the majority of the 1,200 Central Maine Power Co. customers without electricity at that time.

Emergency radio reports indicated that a tree was down on a home in Wales and another had fallen onto a utility line in Fayette. Photos and videos posted Tuesday evening on Twitter also appeared to show a downed tree on a home in Albion and other damage to homes caused by strong wind.

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