Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat from the Seattle offices of KPLU Public Radio News, where she has worked since 1999. She also hosts and produces the weekly segment, The Weather With Cliff Mass, which airs every Friday. She holds a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006 mid-career during her stint on KPLU’s Business and Labor Beat from 2000-2012.

From 1989-98 she lived in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a bi-lingual producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 for a project on theater studies and communist history. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. (Yes, she is fluent in German.)

She strives to tell memorable stories about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Character-driven narratives of exploration and innovation excite her. 

Outside work, she practices and instructs yoga, walks half marathons with friends, backpacks with her husband and extended family, reads and watches fiction with nieces, enjoys tasting new foods and admiring all kinds of animals -- especially her two house cats, who often remind her she should spend more time sitting on the couch with them.

Ways to Connect

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Sea-Tac International is the fastest growing airport in North America -- and the first in the U. S. to receive certification as “Salmon Safe.” The designation recognizes work to improve water quality that goes above and beyond federal requirements.

Just west of Sea-Tac’s third runway, down the hill from a steep retaining wall, environmental specialist Josh Feigen stands in the underbrush at the edge of Miller Creek. In 2012, he says the port replaced a cement-box culvert here with woody debris, boulders and gravel to restore more than a mile of shady habitat for salmon.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington is about to get the second highest gas tax in the nation — an increase of 4.9 cents kicks in on July 1 that will push the state surcharge to 49.4 cents per gallon – making it second only to Pennsylvania.

The hike is the final installment of a nearly 12 cent increase, part of a package called Connecting Washington, approved by the state legislature last year.  

Tim Durkan

It’s been cool, damp and showery in the Northwest lately, with a classic pattern of June gloom overshadowing the official start of summer earlier this week. But that’s about to change. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the heaviest rains are over for a while.

He says the recent clouds and precipitation were caused by an upper-level disturbance moving through the region. Mass says that will pass through the area by Saturday morning.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

People who work at businesses in downtown Bellevue may soon be asked to take the stairs more often and to remember to power down their computers at night.

The city has launched a new energy efficiency program called Urban Smart Bellevue that aims to make it a leader in energy efficiency – largely through simple changes in workplace behavior.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Roughly 40 percent of the nation’s coal production comes from public lands. Yet it’s been more than 30 years since the federal government did a formal review of the program.

Now, they’re calling on the public to provide feedback and ideas for reform. A hearing on the issue takes place in downtown Seattle on Tuesday.

Tim Durkan

Prepare to get wet on Saturday. But don’t lose hope. The sun will be back on Sunday, just in time for Father’s Day festivities as Northwest skies serve up a spring mix of rain and shine this weekend.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says Friday’s conditions should set the tone. You’ll want to keep sunglasses as well as a rain slicker handy.

"It’s sunny from Seattle northward," Mass said. But he says conditions will start to change come Friday afternoon.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Many marijuana users might not be aware of a hidden risk in some pot products: potentially toxic pesticides. King County’s Board of Health was briefed on the issue at its monthly meeting on Thursday. 

One of the promises of legalized marijuana is regulations that make the product safer. But regulating pesticides on pot is tricky. First, because of the federal ban on marijuana, research is lacking and too little is known about the health effects when pesticides are burned and inhaled.

courtesy Forterra

The Seattle-based environmental organization Forterra (formerly known as Cascade Land Conservancy) is getting into the urban land-banking business. Now, in addition to purchasing undeveloped open space, it’s buying property in Northwest cities, with plans to hold parcels until they can be developed as affordable housing. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seattle’s Pride Parade at the end of June is the city’s biggest annual display of support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. When news broke of the shooting in Orlando, organizers say they sprang into action immediately. They wanted to make sure people felt comfortable and encouraged to come to this year’s events.

Barry Lancaster / Flickr via Compfight

Late spring in the Northwest is known for cool and showery weather, what’s often referred to locally as “June gloom.” After a record breaking heat wave last week, it looks like the normal pattern has returned to Western Washington skies – and that it will stick around for quite a while.

“June is traditionally a time of clouds and showers,” said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, adding “this weekend won’t disappoint.”

Imagine being on a rural island when a major earthquake hits off the coast. After five minutes of shaking that registers 9.0 on the Richter scale, devastation is all around. Food, water, medicine and fuel are in short supply.  Along with power and phone service outages, all bridges and ferry connections are down.

Since 2013, Braun has led a team putting together a military response plan should an earthquake and tsunami happen in Washington state, as part of federal, state and military preparation for the "Big One" along the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A massive, four-day earthquake drill kicks off Tuesday in the Pacific Northwest.  The region is ripe for what officials say could be the biggest natural disaster the nation has ever seen. The exercise, called ‘Cascadia Rising,’ will test the readiness of responders at all levels of government.

courtesy Ted Griffin and Jason Colby

These days, the prospect of seeing the Pacific Northwest’s iconic orca whales in the wild attracts thousands of tourists annually to whale-watching boats or shore-side excursions.  But it wasn’t that long ago that these majestic endangered creatures were seen as a menace.

Michael Hanscom / Flickr via Compfight

The official start of summer has not yet arrived, but folks in the Pacific Northwest will feel like it has this weekend.  KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the mercury will rise into the 90s in many parts of Washington, bringing unseasonably hot weather to the region.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington state’s Department of Ecology says the magnitude of threats from climate change are so severe, it needs to set limits on air pollution. The agency released an updated rule to cap carbon emissions that it says will be more effective than the draft Clean Air Rule it released in February. But the rewrite is controversial.  

Ted S. Warren / AP

Mounting risks because of climate change are putting pressure on insurance companies. That has Washington's Insurance Commissioner worried. He’s hosting a climate risk summit meeting at the University of Washington this week.  

Lindley Ashline / Flickr via Compfight

Light snow fell at Steven’s Pass Thursday night, serving as a reminder that spring’s not quite over yet, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

But he says that’s about as surprising as it will likely get this weekend. He’s expecting the gloomy Northwest weather that’s been persisting this week to continue through the weekend.

“Today and tomorrow and I’m afraid Sunday are going to be pretty cloudy west of the Cascade Crest,” Mass said. That’s because of some very strong onshore flow that’s currently driving the weather.

A Persistent Trough

Courtesy City of Seattle

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says the plan to clear out the crime-ridden homeless encampment known as The Jungle is not an inhumane “sweep.” But he says it still needs to happen as quickly as possible.

“For folks who are in particularly dangerous situations, we should move them. When people are being raped, when people are setting themselves on fire, we’ve got to go in and do something,” Murray said, “and unless someone is engaged in breaking the law, such as a sexual assault, we’re not going to criminalize homelessness.”

Lindley Ashline / Flickr via Compfight

If you were tired of all the unseasonably warm and sunny weather Washingtonians saw up till last week, it looks like your prayers have been answered, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“For those people who were complaining about the heat and the warmth and the sun and the dryness, well, your prayers have been met,” Mass joked.  He says we are now in a relatively wet, cool pattern that he expects to stick around well into next week.

A Major Trough

Courtesy City of Seattle

Seattle and state officials have announced plans to move people out of the notorious homeless encampment along Interstate 5 known as “the Jungle.” The area is beneath I-5, roughly between Dearborn and Spokane Streets, as well as in the Duwamish Greenbelt east of the freeway. The plan comes several months after a shooting at the camp left two people dead and three wounded.

Courtesy Howard Behar

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Office of Financial Management estimates Washington Initiative 732 will cost as much as $900 million per year. OFM’s analysis concluded the bill would cost as much as $900 million over four years.

Former Starbucks International President Howard Behar is one of three executives responsible for taking the coffee giant from a small regional chain to an international powerhouse. He’s also the author of popular business books that argue a big part of the company’s success has been its focus on putting people ahead of profits.

AnnabelB / flickr

Hundreds of low-cost housing units and small businesses are threatened if proposed changes to zoning go through in Seattle’s University District. That’s according to neighborhood groups who are hosting a community forum with city officials Monday evening to voice their concerns.

Seattle’s University District is one of the city’s six main urban centers zoned for high density. It’s already growing rapidly, with change propelled by a new light rail station at the heart of the neighborhood.

seanomatopoeia / Flickr via Compfight

Enjoy Friday’s summer-like weather while you can. With a predicted high of 80 degrees or more, it will be the last day of unseasonably warm weather for at least a week and likely much longer, says KPLU meteorologist Cliff Mass.

He says the recent string of high temps is ending with a bang.

“It’s amazing; The temperatures will get up to 80, maybe even lower 80s in a few locations, and completely dry,” said Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

AP Images

Hundreds of activists are gathering in Anacortes this weekend for protests aimed at keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

The Pacific Northwest “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” event is part of two weeks of actions that have been taking place in dozens of cities all over the globe. Other U.S. cities on the list include Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. 

Local authorities are warning residents to prepare for congestion.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

The Army Corps of Engineers has denied the permit for a proposed coal export terminal near Bellingham. The controversial facility at Cherry Point would have been the nation’s largest.

Sea Turtle / Flickr via Compfight

Keep the sunglasses and shorts handy.  More bright blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in the mid to high 70s are in store this weekend and beyond, with the exception of on Mother’s Day.

“Lots of sun, just a few clouds, but nothing much — perfect,” said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Courtesy ACT Theatre

Seattle actress Keiko Green left New York City a few years ago, frustrated with the theater scene and intent on taking her career in a different direction. Instead she found the Emerald City’s openness to new material a boon to her ambitions as an all-around theater artist.

“Seattle is a place that’s really thirsty for new voices right now,” she says. “And as a person that’s not only into performing, but also creating work, I think that it’s been an incredible place for me to grow as an artist here.”

courtesy Arboretum Foundation

After multiple full-weekend closures for final work rerouting and restriping, the new 520 bridge across Lake Washington should improve traffic flows.

Another side effect of the new construction will be better access to parts of one of Seattle’s most loved parks. The Washington Park Arboretum that borders on the Seattle side of the bridge is losing nearly five acres of land to the wider bridge and staging work as it has been built. But it's also getting millions of dollars in mitigation funding. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

It’s Earth Day. And one of the most pressing issues for the green movement these days is the idea that environmental justice needs to reach all kinds of people, not just a privileged, white few. The city of Seattle marked the day with the unveiling of its new Equity & Environment Agenda. 

Flickr

Gray skies and drizzle marked a return to normalcy in Northwest skies on Friday, with temperatures back in the 60s after an extraordinarily hot week that broke multiple records and caused a rapid meltdown of snow in the mountains.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the weekend will bring more of the same, with mild temps and potential for lots of late April showers.

Rainy Start To The Weekend

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