ALBION, Mich. (WZZM/Battle Creek Enquirer) -- A powerful thunderstorm roared through Albion on Wednesday afternoon, knocking down trees and power lines and causing chaos for city residents and the Albion College community.
More than 2,660 Consumers Energy customers were without power late Wednesday night after the storm blew through the area. Most of those without power were in and just south of Albion.
The storm blew through town about 4:50 p.m. with torrential rains and forceful winds that cracked large tree limbs and blew over entire trees.
Public Safety Director Scott Kipp said damage was mostly to trees and power lines, with a few roofs of downtown buildings damaged.
Kipp said most of the damage was on the south side of the city. He estimated about half of the city was without power.
He said Consumers Energy crews were working to restore power and clear downed lines from amid fallen trees. He said it could take days to restore power throughout the city.
Kipp said several streets were blocked by fallen trees, including M-99 on the south side of the city.
Extra public safety officers were called in to patrol the city, but no injuries or crime problems had been reported.
A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued for the area, with the National Weather Service saying that winds of 60 mph could strike the area.
Reports of wind gusts during the storm were not immediately available.
Durk Dunham, director of the emergency management division of the Calhoun County Sheriff Department, said little damage was reported outside Albion.
"We were having a county fire chiefs meeting and we were checking and the damage elsewhere was not so bad," Dunham said. "Albion just got squatted on. It was a weird."
Dunham said officials from the National Weather Service were expected to tour the city Thursday.
He said it's not clear what caused the damage.
"We think it was straight-line winds but they might have had a tornado," he said. "But it just seemed to be Albion."
About 9 p.m., Albion College announced the school has canceled classes and closed the campus until Monday. Residence halls will close at noon Thursday and won't reopen until noon Sunday if electric power is restored.
The school is keeping Seaton Hall open for students who can't leave campus.
In a statement, college officials said the storm knocked out electric power, phone service and hot water. All street lights on the campus also are out.
Below is a full statement from Albion College:
8:51 p.m. ET from the Albion College Office of Campus Safety:
As a result of the significant damage across campus and in the city of Albion, the College will be cancelling classes until Monday, September 16th. The College has no hot water, no Baldwin service, and no power, including exterior lights and street lights, and at this time it is not known when these services will be restored. In addition, there are power lines and limbs down across campus, creating a hazardous situation. The Science Complex will remain open tonight for those who wish to stay there.
We strongly encourage all students to go home as soon as possible, tonight if it is safe and practical to do so. However, all residential buildings will be closed at 12pm tomorrow (Thursday, September 12th), and all students must be out of their rooms by that time. If you are unable to leave for transportation reasons, you may stay in Seaton Hall while the College is closed this weekend. All residence hall will open at 12pm Sunday, September 15th if power has been restored.
If you are a fall varsity athlete, your coach will be in contact with you about practices and your matches and competitions. You should check with your coach or the Athletic Director for specific instructions.
Again, we emphasize that this is a hazardous situation, and students and staff should not be out walking on campus. We are hopeful that all services will be restored by Sunday, and we will send out a confirmation message no later than 8am Sunday morning.
Faculty and staff who have critical functions need to report to work. Check with your supervisor if you are not sure whether you need to come to work tomorrow.
6:11 p.m. ET from the Albion College Office of Campus Safety:
The storm that passed through Albion has done significant damage around campus. There are trees and power lines down across campus, and in the City as well. Students are advised to stay clear of tree limbs that are on the ground, as live power lines may be near them. In addition, the College phones are down. Campus Safety can be reached at 517 629 5610. Most buildings are without power, but Baldwin Hall and the Science Complex do have emergency power, so students may congregate there. Further updates will be sent as information is received.