MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Xcel Energy says it's making progress toward restoring power to customers after severe thunderstorms pounded Minnesota and western Wisconsin with gusty winds and heavy rains overnight.

The Minneapolis-based utility says about 44,600 customers were still affected as of midafternoon Friday, down from more than 157,600.

Xcel spokeswoman Mary Sandok says crews are working to restore power but it could take a few days to bring it back for everyone because of the extent of the outages.

Most of the affected customers were in the Twin Cities, but they were scattered across Xcel's service area, including about 19,600 in St. Cloud.

The National Weather Service says several communities experienced gusts above 50 mph. A gust of 85 mph was clocked in Benson.

More storms are expected late Friday and early Sunday.