By R. Michael Brown -- The Atlantic Basin in 2017 has had four tropical storms and one tropical depression through mid-July. But does early activity in the Atlantic's main development region indicate an average or above-average season overall?

Actually, the activity in June and July has little effect on what happens in the remaining months of the Atlantic hurricane season, based on 1944-1994 data evaluated by the Hurricane Research Division (HRD) of NOAA.

However, one of the main drivers of storm development is water temperature and this year, water is warmer than normal. Warm water is the fuel for hurricanes.

The odds of an above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic basin have increased, according to the latest hurricane season update issued by Colorado State University.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Michael Bell have released their predictions, which is a slight uptick from their last forecast on June 1. The update is calling for 15 named storms compared to 14 in the June release. Eight hurricanes with three of those major hurricanes (maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or greater) are now being called for. The June forecast called for seven hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

The authors noted that the odds of hurricane-suppressing El Niño this year have decreased. El Niño tends to increase wind shear in the Atlantic basin, limiting tropical cyclone development.

Hurricanes 101 - How They Develop | National Geographic [2:51]

Sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic basin remain above average, according to the forecast update. Water temperatures are running above normal not only off the U.S. Atlantic coast, but also in the eastern Atlantic - including around and to the west and north of the Cabo Verde Islands. Warmer sea surface temperatures can add more fuel for tropical cyclone development.

The bottom-line: Get your property ready now and make sure your plans are in place for storms.

Official Forecast of Atlantic Hurrican Season Updated July 5, 2017 (Colorado State University)

Does an Active June and July Point to an Above-Average Atlantic Hurricane Season Overall? (

Scientists at Work: Forecasting the Atlantic Hurricane Season (Scientific American)