National Drought Mitigation Center


In Memory of Kelly Redmond

November 15, 2016

Kelly Redmond, a gifted scientist and interpreter of western climate, encouraged and inspired many who are working to connect climate science to people. Redmond, a climatologist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, died on Nov. 3, prompting an outpouring of appreciation for all that he has done for the study of drought and climate in the United States. He was an active contributor to the weekly discussion that informs the making of the U.S. Drought Monitor, regularly providing insight, wisdom and humor.

One of Redmond’s seminal contributions to our understanding of drought is “The Depiction of Drought: A Commentary,” which appeared in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2002. On the challenge of defining drought, he said, “In essence, as with rainbows, each person experiences their own drought.”

Among the memories shared via the U.S. Drought Monitor listserv was a precipitation report that Redmond contributed in 2001:

“Our ticker for the Water Year is still 2.04 inches, and not counting. Sure is dry. Can’t even keep up with Death Valley, which in the same time had 2.46 inches, and now has parrots and orchids and coconuts and cantaloupes, draped in a smothering blanket of kudzu.

“We had 0.00001 inches (e.g., a trace) in August. The drop that fell, August 8th, was reportedly about 0.6 mm in diameter, striking the gage with a resounding ‘plink’ at about 3 degrees from vertical. Like comets, all our drops are named after their discoverer, so this one was known as Raindrop Dapm. Athletic and educated, but sensitive and shy, it was described as ‘a bit of a loner,’ grew up in a good neighborhood but kicked out by its parents when it couldn’t carry its own weight. When the medics arrived, the badly injured droplet was undergoing dehydration and heat stroke; despite mouth to mouth resuscitation, all hope soon evaporated. The drop was survived by no ancestors or descendants. Cremation occurred at death, and its molecules scattered to the four winds. One was seen near Kentucky just the other day.”

Desert Research Institute Obituary

Obituary in the Reno Gazette Journal

Tribute by journalist John Fleck