It’s a good news-bad news kind of outlook for spring and summer precipitation. First, the bad news.

Cattlemen in the southwest third of the country, looking for any hope of breaking the drought that has gripped the region for years, won’t find much solace in a recently released forecast for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.

That’s because researchers are predicting a below-average hurricane season for the Atlantic basin in 2014, citing the likely development of an El Niño event and unusual cooling of the tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic.

The Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project team is calling for nine named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, between June 1 and Nov. 30. Of those, researchers expect three to become hurricanes and one to reach major hurricane strength with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

The team bases its forecasts on more than 60 years of historical data that include Atlantic sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures, vertical wind shear levels (the change in wind direction and speed with height in the atmosphere), El Niño (warming of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific), and other factors.

But the fact that an El Niño event is in the offing is good news for cattlemen. Typically an El Niño means rains for the Southwest and Southern Plains, an area desperately in need of a drink, says Art Douglas, CattleFax meteorologist.

And there’s more good news. According to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, most of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the northern parts of Colorado and Utah are expected to have near normal or above normal water supplies, according to the April forecast.

However, the parched Southwest is expected to stay parched. Far below normal stream flow is expected for southern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah and western Nevada.