The air is just too dry to rain. That's why the June thundershowers aren't popping up that keep Lowcountry residents watching the afternoon skies most years.

An emerging drought that has throttled the area since early spring has gotten a choke hold. Lawns are crunchy brown and water sprinklers have become ubiquitous in subdivisions. Palmetto leaves are drooping and hardwood tree leaves sag. Farmers have pulled in the tomatoes early to save what they could. Corn, one of the money feed crops, is dying on the stalk in unirrigated fields.

It's been so dry for so long that even the Lowcountry's soaking-sweat humidity is evaporating.

And there's not much hope for rain clouds any time soon. Today is the best chance in weeks for a few of those afternoon showers or thundershowers, and the chance is less than 50 percent, said meteorologist Julie Packett, National Weather Service, Charleston. Lack of moisture, low humidity and other hot, dry conditions in the atmosphere are keeping thunderclouds from rising into the upper atmosphere where they get their punch.

Read more later at and also in tomorrow's newspaper.