THE ATLANTIC FORECAST from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

— NOAA staffers say the U-S should be ready for 2 or 3 Atlantic hurricanes to make landfall.

— They predict 12 or 15 tropical storms will form in the ocean.

— They predict 7 to 9 hurricanes.

— They predict 3 to 5 major hurricanes. A major hurricane has winds of at least 111 mph.

— Those predictions indicate a worse than average hurricane season.

TROPICAL STORMS THIS YEAR

— Tropical Depression One named "Arlene" on June 9. Downgraded on June 11.

— Arlene started off the Central American coast and came ashore near the Florida-Alabama line.

— Tropical Depression Two became "Bret" on June 28. Downgraded on June 29.

— Bret started off the east coast of Mexico and hit land in the same area.

— Tropical Depression Three named "Cindy" on July 5.

— Cindy began as a depression off the Central American coast and came ashore in southern Louisiana on July 6.

— Tropical Depression Four named "Dennis" on July 5.

— Dennis hits Florida's Gulf Coast on July 10, dropping to Category Three just before landfall.

— Tropical Depression Five named "Emily" on July 11.

— Forecasters predict Emily to continue moving west, northwest in the general direction of Jamaica.

RECORD-MAKING SEASON

— July 5 is the earliest date on record for four named storms.

— The already active season is helping keep oil prices high — climbing briefly past $60 a barrel Tuesday.

— The record for the most named storms in a single season is 1933. There were 21 tropical storms and hurricanes.

HURRICANE SEASON

— Goes June 1 - November 30.