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West Clermont High School student’s report on tornado scale wins college competition

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 4:33 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Clermont County teen recently won a writing contest through the University of Cincinnati for his research paper on the tornado rating scale.

Jacob Widanski, who is a junior at West Clermont High School, is taking college classes through UC Clermont College and entered this year’s university-wide composition writing contest.

The subject he chose was the tornado rating scale. The Fujita Scale, which is now the Enhanced Fujita Scale, was originally developed in 1970 and revised in 2007.

But according to the aspiring meteorologist, the scale still needs some work.

It ranges from EF0, being the weakest and causing the least amount of damage, to an EF5, meaning the strongest and causing the most significant damage.

Widanski says even though the scale was updated in 2007 it still has its flaws, especially when considering advancements in construction.

“It’s dependence on general construction practices within only the United States,” Widanski said. “Because there are also tornadoes that occur outside of the United States and you can’t apply the Enhanced Fujita Scale to those countries with their different building materials and construction practices.”

About 100 people entered the writing competition. It was open to anyone in three different English classes at all UC campuses.

So what was it like for a teen competing against and beating people in college?

“That’s definitely exciting for me,” Widanski said. “I really didn’t expect to win this competition in this category. So, it was definitely shocking for me.”

Widanski won a monetary prize, and more importantly, pride. He hopes to pursue an education in meteorology or a related field once he graduates next year.

He is interested in the University of Oklahoma, Purdue, and Ohio State and plans to decide in the fall after visiting these campuses.

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