About 130 students and guests attending orientation events took shelter in the University Center basement as officials directed the university community to take shelter in place Wednesday afternoon, said David Duvall, Maverick Orientation and Transition Programs director.
A tornado warning was issued Wednesday in the Metroplex until 2:30 p.m., said Sarah Barns, National Weather Service Meteorologist.
Areas that are being closely watched include northwest Collin County and southwest Denton County, Barns said.
A severe thunderstorm warning was also issued, with potential hail and winds up to 60 mph, said Matt Stalley, National Weather Service Meteorologist.
Damaging storms and high winds are the biggest threat to Arlington, said Juan Hernandez, National Weather Service Meteorologist.
At about 1:30 p.m., the National Weather Service confirmed via radar that a tornado formed northwest of Denton, approaching I-35 and Ganzer Road West.
Katherine DeLeon, music and psychology sophomore, was one of the students who took shelter in the University Center basement. DeLeon drove from east Dallas to visit an adviser.
“I was riding along [I-30] the entire way,” she said. “The weather started to look a little bit cloudy as I was starting to come toward Arlington.”
She said drivers began reacting to the weather as she approached campus.
“Everyone started driving really recklessly because they were really surprised by the intensity of the storm,” she said.
A flash flood watch is in place until 7 a.m. Thursday, Stalley said.
May is usually late for tornadoes, but it’s not unheard of, he said.
Stalley said the National Weather Service monitored funnel clouds that formed in Lake Worth, northwest of Arlington. Funnel clouds can form a tornado at any moment.
Sirens sounded on campus and UTA sent a MavAlert to warn students to take shelter at about 1:30 p.m.
News reporter Peyton North contributed to this article.