Dramatic, even explosive thunderstorms slammed Central Oregon Thursday, pelting the area with more lightning, intense downpours and golf ball-sized hail and knocking down trees and power lines, cutting off power for thousands and causing it to flicker for thousands more.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the region through 8 p.m. and also a severe thunderstorm warning at mid-afternoon as one of the larger storms located south of Culver, moving north at 20 mph.

Downed lines blocked Highway 126 near Cloverdale for a time, and other downed trees were reported in Deschutes River Woods and southeast Bend.

Police and fire crews scrambled to calls about possible lines and trees down as the skies turned very dark and storms swept through the area before a brief respite, even sunshine at mid-afternoon.

About 2,400 Pacific Power customers lost power at 1:40 p.m. for almost two hours due to a storm in the China Hat Road area southeast of Bend. Another 1,000 Central Electric Cooperative customers lost power for varying lengths as the storms moved through, news partner KBND radio reported.

Among National Weather Service storm spotter reports:

- Gusty winds in Madras, a lot of broken tree limbs and a half-inch of rain in a short period. Winds 30-35 mph and hail between pea and marble size, .68 inch of rain in one-half hour.

- In Bend, heavy rain, an inch in about 20 minutes.

- In Redmond, pouring rain but no hail at early afternoon, lots of lightning, winds gusting to 45 mph and localized street flooding.

- Northeast of Bend, 15 minutes of hail up to half-inch diameter.

- In Terrebonne, very heavy rain and hail up to an inch in diameter.

Hail also was reported in the Prineville and Culver areas.

At Jefferson County Middle School in Madras, the hail was so deep, cars were spinning out and staff shoveled it, just like snowfall.

The heavy rain kept many of the lightning strikes from sparking wildfires - at least for now - though four very small blazes were reported. Lookouts and firefighters will be watching closely in coming days for so-called "sleeper" fires that can smolder and burst to life when things dry out and warm up.

The stormy weather also made for some scary moments for a California couple landing at Bend Municipal Airport in their 1973 Beechcraft Bonanza, said Deschutes County sheriff's deputies.

Robert Baskins was landing at the airport when the weather dramatically deteriorated, said sheriff's Lt. Deron McMaster. A thunderstorm cell moving through the area brought heavy rain, large hail and strong winds.

Baskins was able to land on the runway, but went off the end, into the dirt and gravel, where the aircraft spun around 180 degrees and came to a rest, McMaster said. No one was hurt, and the plane wasn't damaged, he added.