In the eye of the storm season
This seems like it's been a busy hurricane season already, but we haven't had a hurricane yet, have we? Isn't that unusual?
You're right. This has been a busy season so far, with seven named storms through Aug. 18, though none have reached hurricane strength.
The only years with as much or more activity at the same point in the year are 2005 (nine named storms, including four hurricanes), 1995 (seven named storms, including three hurricanes) and 1936 (eight storms, including three hurricanes).
The lack of a hurricane so far this year makes 2011 different from those three. We looked back through records since 1900 and discovered that no other season has started with as many named storms but no hurricanes.
That's likely to change pretty soon. September is the month when the most hurricanes strike, and Sept. 10 is the historical peak of the season.
And, of course, Florida is a favorite target. Of hurricanes making landfall between 1851 and 2010, this state has been hit 113 times, 37 times by major storms. Texas is next with 63 hurricanes, 19 of them major, and Louisiana has been hit by 55 hurricanes, 20 of them major.
So keep those hurricane supplies handy, and watch the tropics closely for the next two months.
Lonely letter comes and goes
For approximately a year, the Frank Stewart bridge column in your newspaper carried the notation "(C)" after the opening lead. What did it mean? Why did it suddenly appear with no explanation? Why did it disappear in similar fashion?
We thought we knew the answer to this, but decided to check with Frank Stewart to confirm our suspicions, and he did.
"I think the answer to your reader's question is nothing bridge-related or mysterious," he wrote in an e-mail. "The camera-ready copy of my columns that I see has a copyright line: (C) Tribune Media Services Inc. at the bottom, just below the opening lead. Apparently, only the (C) made its way into your paper for a while."
Stewart welcomes questions and comments about his column or books via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through the mail to P.O. Box 962, Fayette, AL 35555.
"Hardly a day passes that I don't get a couple of queries, and I try to respond to everything," he wrote.
Governmental divisions: Japan
Regarding Japan, they don't use states or counties, but what is a "prefecture?" What does that mean? And how many prefectures are there in Japan?
A prefecture is "any one of the areas into which some countries (such as Japan and France) are divided for local government," according to a Merriam-Webster online dictionary. There are 47 in Japan, according to the CIA.