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FSU film school alums earn awards, acclaim with ‘Moonlight’

UPDATE: Florida State graduates Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, James Laxton, Andrew Hevia, Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon won the Golden Globe Award for best motion picture (drama) with their film “Moonlight” on Sunday night, Jan 8. Congratulations!

Barry Jenkins was a junior at Florida State University in 2000 when he walked by Doak Campbell Stadium one day and discovered the College of Motion Picture Arts.

It piqued his interest. Jenkins, a talented English major, applied to the program even though he knew little about filmmaking. He was accepted and joined a select group of 30 students welcomed into the school each year.

Valliere Richard Auzenne — associate professor of documentary filmmaking, film history and screenwriting — remembers Jenkins as a “dream student.”

Professor Valliere Richard Auzenne

“He was a very diligent and dedicated student,” said Auzenne, who remains in contact with Jenkins today. “They weren’t assignments to him. They were opportunities to write his story. He was an extremely good writer. He writes his stories from the heart, stories he knows and has experienced.”

Now, Jenkins is one of Hollywood’s hottest directors. His internationally praised film “Moonlight” won the Golden Globe for best motion picture, drama, on Sunday, Jan. 8. It was nominated in six categories. Next up: the Academy Awards on Feb. 26. Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 24. “Moonlight” has already collected more than a dozen other industry awards since its release in October.

Jenkins reunited a team of six Florida State film school graduates to help produce “Moonlight.” He wrote the screenplay based on a play called, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” and he’s admitted the coming-of-age story reminds him of his own upbringing in a drug-plagued Miami neighborhood. His father was not around, his absent mother struggled with crack addiction, and another woman helped raise him — all of those personal realities are elements in the film.

Jenkins returned to his childhood neighborhood in Miami’s Liberty City to record the film with his crew of Florida State alums starting in October 2015. The movie chronicles three stages of life — childhood, teenager and adulthood — for the main character Chiron as he grapples with his identity.

“Chiron, who is you?” asks his friend and romantic interest Kevin, played in adulthood by actor André Holland. The story leads viewers on Chiron’s personal journey of feeling different than other kids, getting bullied and searching for someone who cares about him.

Jenkins’ plaintive screenplay delivers complicated characters who don’t reflect simple stereotypes. Juan — a drug dealer played to rave reviews by actor Mahershala Ali — becomes a caring, father figure who protects Chiron and guides the boy with love and pride.

“At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be,” Juan affectionately instructs Chiron. “Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.”

The depiction of Juan is not what you might expect of a neighborhood drug dealer, and Auzenne is not surprised by Jenkins’ nuanced character development because he demonstrated that skill as a film student.

“His stories were always heartfelt,” Auzenne recalled. “From the beginning, he had a gift of creating very special, real characters, which is an art. Even in his early years, his characters were always his strength, always very interesting and complicated characters. Barry wrote three-dimensional characters. They were not cardboard figures.”

Auzenne said that talent was clearly evident in Jenkins’ first production as a student — an 8-minute film short produced in 2003 titled “My Josephine.” Jenkins said the film was partly inspired after the 9/11 attacks by a sign on a Tallahassee laundromat that read, “American Flags Cleaned Free.” The story follows the lives of an Arab man and woman who work at the dry cleaning business. It was based on a real-life shopkeeper from Jenkins’ childhood in Liberty City and offered the first example, Auzenne said, where he wrote a compelling narrative about something he knew.

“My Josephine” set Jenkins apart at Florida State. Students and faculty took notice of his talent for crafting an unconventional story and respected his ability to present it with indelible style. The style of “My Josephine” was conceived with his good friend and cinematographer James Laxton, who has continued to work with Jenkins since they graduated from FSU in 2003.

Most notably, the pair teamed up on another critically acclaimed film in 2008: “Medicine for Melancholy,” filmed in San Francisco for less than $15,000. They reunited for “Moonlight” and created a deliberately vivid look for the film using Miami’s luminous colors and light — cranking up the images’ mid-tones and highlights, boosting contrast, adding tinges of blue — to evoke an intense, dreamy feel. Jenkins has described the style as a “beautiful nightmare” that juxtaposes gorgeous images against painfully dark things happening to characters.

“Moonlight” director and screenwriter Barry Jenkins gives a shout-out to A24 and Plan B Entertainment, which teamed up to finance and produce the movie.

Jenkins and Laxton pored over tiny details like the color saturation and tint in images to maximize emotional impact. Auzenne said that kind of intuitive connection between Jenkins and Laxton first took shape when they collaborated at Florida State.

“That’s from working together consistently,” Auzenne said. “It’s also an extension of how they’re trained at the FSU film school. Those relationships are often established here.”

Auzenne has taught every undergraduate film student since the school was created in 1989, including the six alums who worked on “Moonlight”:

— Barry Jenkins, director (‘03)

— Adele Romanski, producer (‘04)

— James Laxton, cinematographer (‘03)

— Andrew Hevia, co-producer (‘06)

— Nat Sanders, editor (‘02)

— Joi McMillon, co-editor (‘03)

Auzenne described Jenkins as a thoughtful, contemplative student with a gift for storytelling. That has not changed. With “Moonlight,” Jenkins has demonstrated he knows who he’s become as a filmmaker.

“I hope for all of us he keeps making films and telling the stories that he wants to tell,” Auzenne said. “What we as an audience are privileged to see are the stories that he shares with us. I hope he wins an Oscar. I’m so very proud of him, Adele, James, Joi, Nat, Andrew, all of them.  It’s an excellent example of how our students, even when they graduate, still work with one another.”

Via news.fsu.edu.

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In heaven, Debbie and Carrie continue to deliver a class act

Carrie Fisher and her kid brother Todd had every right to loathe their parents. Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher were self-involved entertainers, and the needs of their children ran a very distant second to Debbie’s relationship with her career and Eddie’s relationship with drugs.

From their “shared history of weirdness,” the kids managed to emerge quite a bit more kind, wise, and devoted to their star-crossed parents than Debbie and Eddie had any right to expect.

The Fisher children have been tabloid fodder since toddlerhood but survived to take ownership of their own stories and tell them with wit and a rare degree of honesty.

Carrie, in particular, was a one-woman Algonquin Round Table. Over decades, she aimed her powerful and sometimes poisonous pen mainly at herself, and shared ever-deepening insights into her bi-polar disorder and the self-destructive methods she used to self-medicate. We’ll never know how many people she helped, but judging from the outpouring of grief at her death last month, it’s a big number.

Except for the bi-polar disorder, Carrie grew up to be a carbon copy of her mother.  No matter what else was going on in Debbie and Carrie’s lives, their work ethic was unflagging. They wanted to be loved by everybody and they pretty much were.

Long before Carrie’s untimely and utterly unexpected death at age way-too-young, fans were counting the days to her December 15 reprise of Princess Leia in Star Wars VIII. And long before Debbie “left to be with Carrie,” Turner Classic Movies had announced a 65th anniversary big-screen showing of Singin’ in the Rain, the film that made Debbie a star and is, by general agreement, the best musical of all time.

It seems Debbie & Carrie are not done with us, and, it’ll be a long time ’til we’re done with them.

 

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Airport shooting suspect due for court appearance

The Iraq war veteran accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding six at a crowded Florida airport baggage claim is due for his first court appearance.

Esteban Santiago is scheduled to be in Fort Lauderdale federal court Monday morning. The 26-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska, faces airport violence and firearms charges that could mean the death penalty if he’s convicted.

The initial hearing Monday is likely to focus on ensuring Santiago has a lawyer and setting future dates. Santiago has been held without bail since his arrest after Friday’s shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The FBI has says Santiago flew on a one-way ticket from Alaska to Florida with a handgun in his checked bag. Agents say he retrieved the gun and emerged from an airport bathroom firing.

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Will Hollywood be in the mood to party at Golden Globes?

Is Hollywood in the mood to party?

On Sunday, the movie industry will gather for the Golden Globes, which are regularly one of the most freewheeling and frothiest award shows of the year. Champagne will flow. Punchlines will fly.

But the tone of this year’s ceremony may be different, and not just because it will be the first time in nearly a decade that someone other than Ricky Gervais or the Tina FeyAmy Poehler duo is hosting.

Jimmy Fallon will emcee this year’s show, to be broadcast live from Beverly Hills, Calif., by NBC at 8 p.m. EST Sunday. But the transition on the minds of Hollywood is the one taking place in Washington on January 20. The election of Donald Trump has loomed over this year’s awards season, where the movie industry’s usual self-congratulatory toasting has been mixed with a foreboding sense of dread.

“We are living in very troubled times,” Kenneth Lonergan, writer and director of one of the season’s favorites, “Manchester by the Sea,” said Wednesday at the National Board of Review Awards. “How troubled, we don’t know yet. It’s going to be a lot of trouble, or it might be bad trouble like we’ve never seen.”

Such speeches have been commonplace throughout the litany of awards that lead up, ultimately, to the Feb. 26 Academy Awards.

At Tuesday’s New York Film Critics Circle Awards, “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah compared the lauded “O.J.: Made in America” to the election: “another bad decision based on fame and race.” At the Gotham Film Independent Film Awards in November, Damian Lewis archly intoned, “The film that receives the most votes … is the winner. It’s a brilliant idea,” referring to Trump’s loss of the popular vote.

Barry Jenkins, the writer-director of the tender coming-of-age tale “Moonlight,” said at the National Board of Review Awards: “As we make America great again, let’s remember some inconsiderable things in our legacy, because there was a time when someone like me was just not considered.”

Fallon, who was criticized for what was considered a softball interview of Trump on the “Tonight Show” during the campaign, isn’t likely to set a very political tone for the evening. But speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Fallon promised Trump jokes at what he called “the first and maybe the last party that we’ll have in 2017.”

The late-night host will also be trying to turn ratings back in a positive direction. Last year’s ceremony, hosted by Gervais, drew 18.5 million viewers, down about 4 percent from the year before. Among the presenters on tap for the show, put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press, are Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Stone, Ben and Casey Affleck, Viola Davis, Amy Schumer, Sting and Matt Damon.

Award show TV audiences have generally been slumping, but the Golden Globes have certain advantages. Aside from their generally boisterous vibe, the Globes are distinct in honoring both film and television. Its TV awards have long been second to the movie honors, which have more significance coming shortly before Oscar nominations. But the TV awards are increasingly on equal footing at the ceremony.

This year’s categories are full of recent shows that weren’t eligible for September’s Emmy Awards, including “The Night Of,” ”Westworld,” ”Atlanta,” ”This Is Us” and “Insecure.”

On the film side, Damien Chazelle‘s Los Angeles musical “La La Land” leads all nominees with seven nods, including best picture, comedy or musical. Its primary Oscar competition, “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea,” will be separated by the Globes’ split between drama and comedy.

And surely many attendees will be thinking of those absent. After a year full of notable deaths, the back-to-back passing over the holidays of Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher, was felt particularly in a Hollywood that revered them both. Reynolds and Fisher were to be laid to rest Friday in Los Angeles.

Sunday night’s biggest question may between whether to let loose or sober up.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Thousands stranded at Ft. Lauderdale airport: ‘You feel so vulnerable’

Thousands of travelers and others at the busy Fort Lauderdale airport during Friday’s deadly shooting were kept on lockdown for more than six hours — some reliving their fears through false reports of a second shooting; others stuck on planes, or in their cars awaiting word from loved ones; and many just amassed at the tarmac hoping for a green light to head home.

“People were extremely emotional, crying, horrified,” said Constance McIntyre, 53, who hid in a bathroom stall during the reports of a second shooting. “I didn’t even know if it was a safe place. You feel so vulnerable there. It was stressful and terrifying.”

She and her husband, Vincent McIntyre, had arrived about 1 p.m. to drop off their daughter for a flight to Jamaica at Terminal 4. He soon found out that at Terminal 2, the gunman had opened fire moments earlier. And now, they were part of the second wave of panic. People who heard the reports of another round of shots ran toward Terminal 4. TV news footage showed people ducking behind vehicles and hiding as they again ran.

Vincent McIntyre said that at one point he heard a commotion in the parking area and moments later saw officers searching for people.

“We saw them running toward some guys with their guns drawn, and people around them scattered. They tackled two men and got their bags,” he said.

He said they put one of the suitcases in a bright yellow container and then heard over the speakers that authorities were going to conduct a controlled explosion of a suspicious package.

Ronnie Coutu, a 38-year-old Raleigh, North Carolina, businessman, said he spent hours on a Southwest Airlines plane before he had to be evacuated because of a diabetic emergency.

“The airport did a good job trying to keep up,” Coutu said as he left the emergency room. “They brought water, food and dumped the lavatories.”

He and his wife, Ashley Lambert, said there was confusion on the plane when it landed in Fort Lauderdale and sat unmoving on the tarmac. Then another passenger yelled, “There’s been a shooting,” and a flight attendant confirmed it, they said.

After sunset, McIntyre and his family were still at the airport waiting for his daughter, whose flight was grounded, to come out. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the airport would remain closed until the entire facility was secure.

About 6:30 p.m., SWAT team members began escorting the people who had been standing in the check-in area of Terminal 2 to a parking garage.

About 7:15 p.m., with all flights still grounded, authorities said travelers with vehicles were being allowed to leave the airport and others were being taken in buses to a seaport terminal nearby.

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Family: Shooting suspect ‘lost his mind’ after tour in Iraq

The man police say opened fire with a gun from his checked baggage at a Florida airport had a history of mental health issues – some of which followed his military service in Iraq – and was receiving psychological treatment at his home in Alaska, his relatives said Friday after the deadly shooting.

“Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn’t feeling too good,” his uncle, Hernan Riveratold The Record newspaper.

Esteban Santiago, 26, deployed in 2010 as part of the Puerto Rico National Guard, spending a year with an engineering battalion, according to Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen.

In recent years, Santiago had been living in Anchorage, Alaska, his brother, Bryan Santiago, told The Associated Press from Puerto Rico. Bryan Santiago said his brother’s girlfriend had recently called the family to alert them to his treatment.

In November, Esteban told FBI agents in Alaska that the government was controlling his mind and was forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos, a law enforcement official said. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.

The FBI agents notified the police after the interview with Esteban Santiago, who took him in for a mental health evaluation.

Bryan Santiago said his brother never spoke to him directly about his medical issues.

“We have not talked for the past three weeks,” Bryan Santiago said. “That’s a bit unusual … I’m in shock. He was a serious person … He was a normal person.”

Esteban Santiago was born in New Jersey but moved to Puerto Rico when he was 2, his brother said. He grew up in the southern coastal town of Penuelas before joining the Guard in 2007.

Since returning from Iraq, Santiago served in the Army Reserves and the Alaska National Guard in Fairbanks. He was serving as a combat engineer in the Guard before his discharge for “unsatisfactory performance,” said Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, a spokeswoman. His military rank upon discharge was E3, private 1st class, and he worked one weekend a month with an additional 15 days of training yearly, Olmstead said.

She would not elaborate on his discharge, but the Pentagon said he’d gone AWOL several times and was demoted and discharged.

Still, he’d had some successes during his military career, being awarded a number of medals and commendations including the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

His uncle and aunt in New Jersey were trying to make sense of what they were hearing about Santiago after his arrest at the Fort Lauderdale airport. FBI agents arrived at their house to question them, and reporters swarmed around.

Maria Ruiz told The Record that her nephew had recently become a father and was struggling.

“It was like he lost his mind,” she said in Spanish of his return from Iraq. “He said he saw things.”

In Anchorage, police officers told reporters that they were interviewing people at an address for Santiago but wouldn’t give details and were keeping journalists away from the home. FBI agents were also seen at the scene by neighbors.

Santiago was flying from Anchorage on a Delta flight and had checked only one piece of luggage – the one containing the gun.

He was involved in a number of minor court cases in Alaska, including fines for not having proof of insurance and a criminal mischief case that led to a deferred sentence. His attorney, Max Holmquist, declined to discuss his client with an AP reporter.

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Florida softball league is 87 – many players are even older

Irwin Abelson runs to catch a softball and puts on his glasses before throwing the ball to second base. Abelson’s arm is strong, and the man in his 80s on the opposing team is out.

“My doctor said recently, ‘I’d never guess that you were 91 years old,'” shrugs Abelson, a former life insurance salesman and a player for the Kids & Kubs senior league in St. Petersburg. To be eligible, players must be at least 75 — so it’s often called the “three-quarters league.”

Abelson is one of five active players over 90, and in the scheme of things, he’s something of a youngster. One player is 97.

Kids & Kubs is a Depression-era creation. It began in 1930 and quickly drew crowds. In the 1940s, some 5,000 people packed the bleachers. Black-and-white newsreels highlighted the “energetic grandpas.” (The 70-member league is now co-ed; a few women play).

The 97-year-old player, Winchell Smith, says: “The place was mobbed then. They didn’t have anything else to do.”

Today, only a handful of people watch. St. Petersburg was once known as the mecca of “the newly wed and the nearly dead,” but now that hipsters have moved in with their craft beer, kombucha and indie markets, few relics of the past survive. Kids & Kubs still has an office next door to the city’s shuffleboard club, but young people have claimed that, too.

Kids & Kubs is a holdout of old Florida. Players arrive before 9 to stretch and practice in the warm winter sun. Most are veterans, with many having served in combat in World War II. Dugout talk often consists of hospital visits and arthritis. Some topics are more serious: One longtime player lost his wife recently. Each year, two or three teammates die.

But they don’t dwell on the inevitable. While they’ve updated their dress white uniforms — they wear shorts and polo shirts and no longer are required to don bow ties — they still play robust doubleheaders three days a week.

“Play ball,” calls out Don Osborn, the 90-year-old announcer. He’s the league’s scorekeeper, announcer and website manager. He’s also the only one who still wears a bowtie when the Kids & Kubs play.

The origin of the league name is unclear. Player Clarence Faucett, 89, thinks it has something to do with when the team used to fundraise for a local children’s hospital, decades ago. The players were the kids; the children in the hospital were the “kubs.”

“We don’t know that for sure,” Faucett said. “That mystery will probably never be solved.”

Smith, a team captain who played second base when he was younger, is now a Kids & Kubs catcher. He credits his longevity to healthy eating and playing ball.

And while exercise and clean eating clearly help people stay healthy, longevity experts say friends and camaraderie are important, too.

Relying on others, and knowing others rely on you, gives life meaning, said Nick Buettner, who works for the Blue Zone Project in Minneapolis and who has studied longevity and aging.

“A reason to get up in the morning,” he said. “I’m guessing for a lot of these people, the softball team gives a strong sense of purpose.”

Smith said the league “keeps me going, the only thing really,” he said. “If I didn’t have this, I’d be sitting in a rocking chair ready to die.”

Wayne Hill, a 75-year-old who splits his year between Michigan and Florida, said he’d been waiting 30 years to join the league. He’s had a triple bypass, aortic valve surgery and a hip replacement but says playing ball is the best thing he can do for his body — and mind.

“The challenge of still playing. The challenge of going after a ball, throwing a ball, hitting a ball. It’s unbelievably great,” he said, grinning. “It’s just the thrill of the game. I’m not in it to win or lose, I’m in it to play.”

Republish with permission of The Associated Press.

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Orlando City Soccer stadium unveils 49 rainbow-colored seats as tribute to Pulse victims

The soon-to-open Orlando City Soccer stadium will have a section of seats painted in bright, proud rainbow colors to celebrate and memorialize the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

There will be 49 seats painted that way in total – one for each person lost in the shooting. They’ll all be emblazoned with the hashtag “Orlando United, ” and they’re placed in section 12, as the shooting happened on June 12 last year.

The rest of the seats are purple and white.

The club chose to do this to celebrate further and acknowledge Orlando’s status as an “inclusive, diverse and welcoming community.”

“We are here to commemorate and unveil the 49 rainbow-colored seats that will sit permanently in section 12 of our stadium as a constant reminder of the senseless acts of June 12,” said club founder Phil Rawlins. “These are regular season-ticket holder seats. We put them in section 12 because, obviously, we felt that was pertinent. It was June 12th last year when the tragedy happened. They are right down by the benches and will certainly be seen by everyone in the stadium.”

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Florida panther deaths still at record-high for 2016

A record number of endangered Florida panthers died again last year — 42 of the remaining big cats were killed, matching the 2015 record. Thirty-four were hit by vehicles in southwest Florida, where development is shrinking what’s left of their habitat.

The tally kept by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission includes six new litters, with a total of 14 cubs born in 2016. But the state estimates that only 100 to 180 of the big cats remain in the wild.

Critics say government officials have failed to implement “coherent efforts” to save the Florida panthers. In a statement Wednesday, Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said he doesn’t expect their plight to improve under President-elect Donald Trump.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Quirk may shield U.S. coast during busy hurricane seasons

A climatic quirk seems to be slightly shielding the U.S. coast during busy hurricane seasons, often weakening major storms just as they approach America’s beaches, a new study finds.

That could help explain why it’s been more than 11 years since a major hurricane with winds of more than 110 mph has hit the United States mainland.

Last year’s Hurricane Matthew was a perfect example of this uniquely American “protective barrier” of stronger crosswinds and cooler coastal waters, according to the study’s author, climate scientist Jim Kossin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Matthew devastated Haiti as a monster storm hitting land with 145 mph winds, threatened Florida as a major hurricane and then fizzled as it finally came ashore in South Carolina, barely registering as a hurricane with 75 mph winds.

Kossin’s study published Wednesday in the journal Nature found that shifts in air and ocean conditions over decades work together to weaken major storms along the U.S. coast. This protective barrier begins around the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, and gets more noticeable around the Atlantic coast, Kossin said.

“It’s a lucky byproduct for the United States coast,” Kossin said. “It’s really unfortunate that we’re the only ones that seem to be benefiting from this situation.”

This image provided by NOAA. taken Oct. 7, 2016, shows Hurricane Matthew over the Southeastern part of the U.S. A new study finds wind and water shifts during busy hurricane seasons seem to provide a somewhat protective barrier for the U.S. coast. Last year’s Hurricane Matthew, which was a major storm and hit Haiti with 145 mph winds but fizzled as it neared the American mainland, is a good example.This Oct. 7, 2016, satellite image shows Matthew as it threatens Florida, but it later hit South Carolina as a minimal hurricane with 75 mph winds. (NOAA via AP)

The Atlantic Ocean seems to alternate between cycles of heavy and low hurricane activity. The current heavy cycle began in 1993, after a low period of more than two decades. During those quieter times, when a major hurricane forms in the Atlantic it is three to six times more likely to rapidly intensify near the U.S. coast than during the busier times, according to the study.

Kossin mapped sea surface temperatures and wind shear levels in the Atlantic to see small changes near the U.S. coast — but only during a busy cycle. His study found a localized increase in high altitude crosswinds — called wind shear — that tear at a storm’s structure. It also found slightly cooler sea surface temperatures, which reduce a hurricane’s fuel of hot water. The changes seem to be just a function of larger natural conditions, he said.

Take October’s Hurricane Matthew: “As it approached Florida, it started to encounter wind shear, which weakened it to a minimal hurricane,” Kossin said.

Previously, he also found that during busy cycles, bigger storms tend to form slightly more to the east — toward Africa — giving them more opportunity to curve harmlessly north in the Atlantic instead of hitting the U.S. coastline. All those factors seem to be helping reduce the U.S. threat compared to other places in the Atlantic, he said.

Even with that “protective barrier” as Kossin calls it in the paper, there is still a greater chance of major hurricanes nearing the U.S. during busy times than quiet times, Kossin said. That’s because there are more storms brewing overall.

Three outside scientists contacted by The Associated Press praised the study as interesting, though not complete, while two others cautioned against reading too much into it. Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry called it solid research while Penn State’s David Titley said he worried about small sample size and natural variations.

Kossin and other scientists also said the 11-year major hurricane landfall drought since 2005’s Wilma is a bit of a statistical quirk because of strict meteorological definitions and national borders. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 wasn’t considered a major hurricane because its winds weren’t strong enough.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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