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

A 22-foot-long totem pole carved by members of the Lummi Nation is making its way from Bellingham, traveling 5,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada. The colorful sculpture is the focal point for a tribal journey meant to unify native people with their allies in the fight against increased fossil fuel exports.

On a recent stop in Seattle, supporters filled the steps of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, as tribal members burned sage, drummed and chanted in a traditional smudging ceremony.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

If you like the sunshine and heat, get out there and enjoy it on Friday. A heat advisory is in effect through the evening, with highs expected in the mid-80s to low 90s. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a cool down is coming, likely marking the start of a big transition to cooler conditions as summer in the Northwest begins to wane.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

An excessive heat warning has been in effect since Thursday this of week and temperatures are expected to hit the 90s  in places around the Puget Sound region through Saturday.

It will be sunny and hot all weekend long. And the heat wave comes as no real surprise; This is typical weather around here for August, when we expect our hottest temperatures of the year.

But why now?  Shouldn’t it be in June, when the sun is strongest?

Mark Musick / King Conservation District

Communities around Puget Sound have invested about $150 million over the past two decades to clean up the water and improve habitat for endangered salmon. Yet we continue to lose ground when it comes to a crucial part of that environment. King County watershed managers recently hosted a guided boat tour to spread the word about the importance of restoration work in recovering the so-called ‘nearshore.’                                         

Patrick / Flickr via Compfight

It’s hard not to gloat about Northwest weather in a week like this one. And KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the glory of blue skies and warm but comfortable temperatures is set to continue for most of the coming weekend.

“We’re stuck in this pattern of near perfection of weather,” Mass joked. “We’re in the 70s and low 80s and dry conditions while the rest of the country’s in heat and humidity and thunderstorms. So we can’t complain,” he said.

Warmest On Friday

Debbie Miller / USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

August is the peak time of year to find aggressive wood-boring insects that lay their eggs beneath tree bark. Early detection can prevent pests from laying waste to forests and urban tree canopy. That’s why state agencies are asking residents to check their yards for harmful pests this month.

The USDA has dubbed August national Tree Check Month and they’re asking people to take ten minutes to look for signs of trouble.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Seattle’s Seward Park is located in one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse zip codes. It’s also home to one of the city’s chapters of the Audubon Society and is part of the national conservation organization’s push to build a constituency that is “as diverse as nature.”  So what’s Seward Park Audubon’s summer camp like? KPLU environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp met with Audubon Center Director Joey Manson to learn more.

Aaron Barna / USFWS - Pacific Region

When the marbled murrelet was first listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1992, so little was known about the elusive sea bird that the state postponed finalizing its long-term habitat conservation plan, opting instead for interim strategies until more scientific research could inform the best strategies.

YouTube

The Pacific Northwest is known as a Mecca for bird watchers. Diverse habitats offer shelter for hundreds of species throughout the state. In summer, urban parks offer viewing of everything from osprey and bald eagles to chickadees and warblers, hummingbirds, owls and woodpeckers.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The first weekend in August is statistically one of the driest and warmest weekends in the Pacific Northwest. It also marks the height of outdoor summer fun in Seattle as Seafair’s hydroplane races hit the water and the Blue Angels show off their daredevil moves in the skies above.  

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says this year’s Seafair Weekend forecast is for cooler than normal weather and even some rain.

“But the rain’s going to hold off till the end of Sunday, so I think most activities will be fine,” Mass said.

Tali Arbel, File / AP Photo

A pattern of illegally deceiving all its Washington state customers – that’s what cable provider Comcast is accused of in a $100-million lawsuit filed Monday in King County Superior Court by the state Attorney General’s office.  

In its complaint, the state says Comcast violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act more than 1.8 million times, through unfair and deceptive practices.

Cromely / Flickr via Compfight

Have you ever noticed that oftentimes on summer afternoons, big clouds seem to form right over the Cascades or the Olympics, almost like the mountains have their own weather systems? They do.

“It’s true,” says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“Many summer afternoons, we see puffy cumulus clouds starting to form over the upper slopes of the Cascades. And they increase in width and height during the afternoon and quite frequently you have a few showers there – even some lightning,” he said.  “And so that’s real, we see it over the Cascades, we see it over the Olympics.”

C. Brown/COASST

Marine scientists are on alert as hundreds of seabirds have been washing up dead on local beaches.  Since May, the bodies of more than 300 rhinoceros auklets have been collected around the eastern side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  

Washington’s Protection Island Wildlife Refuge, near Port Townsend, is home to one of the world’s largest known colonies of the puffin-like bird, which is named for its unique appearance.

courtesy Mark Durall

There’s just one week left for the public to comment on preferred alternatives for completion of the missing link in Seattle’s Burke Gilman Trail. The nearly 20-mile trail extends from Ballard to Bothell and is one of the region’s most popular bike routes.

sea turtle / Flickr via Compfight

“Liquid sunshine” made an ample appearance as the Northwest weekend got off to a wet and cloudy start. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass promises warmer temps and clearer skies as the weekend progresses. In fact, he says we’re headed into what is usually one of the nicest times of year and he expects it won’t disappoint.

“We’re about to go into an extended dry spell,” Mass said.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Boats will soon be forbidden from releasing sewage anywhere in Puget Sound if the state Department of Ecology has its way. The agency is seeking federal protection, asking the EPA to declare the Sound a “no discharge zone” for vessel sewage.  

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

The Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes is among six in the nation that will receive new equipment to reduce toxic air pollution. It’s part of a $425 million settlement for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.  The U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the deal in Seattle, calling it the largest settlement to date of its kind.

Jennifer LeBret-White

Native American dropout rates are nearly twice the national average.

A new certificate program at the University of Washington aims to improve outcomes for Native American students, by teaching educators better ways to connect with them and their heritage.

SDOT / Flickr via Compfight

Mid-July is well into what most people in the Pacific Northwest consider the summer season, which can be delightfully sunny and warm. Last year, it was characterized by record heat.

Not this year. KPLU Weather expert Cliff Mass says it will be pretty gray for most of this weekend. And though it feels cool compared to last year, it’s actually relatively average in terms of temperatures.  

Kenneth Balcomb III / Center for Whale Research

Whale watchers say they finally spotted some orcas off the Washington coast late last week. But experts say it’s still an alarmingly bad year for sightings of resident killer whales, which have been late to arrive and are showing up in much smaller numbers than usual.

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

It’s been about two months since permits were denied for the development of the controversial Gateway Pacific coal export terminal north of Bellingham.

Now the Whatcom County Council is under fire for considering a measure that would restrict new developments for handling of fossil fuels at the site.

Joey Cohn / KPLU

Expect the cool, cloudy skies and rain to continue this weekend. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the unseasonable weather is so extreme this year, he’s coined a new phrase for it: “Januly.”

He says though it’s not quite as cold as January, the patterns he’s seeing in the atmosphere resemble ones more typically seen in winter.

file photo / AP Images

Opponents of plans to ship crude oil by rail and barge through Grays Harbor in Southwest Washington will rally in Hoquiam on Friday. They say the risks far outweigh the benefits of the proposal.

The rally was organized by the Quinault Indian Nation and will begin on the water with a flotilla of traditional tribal canoes as well as kayaks and fishing vessels.

The tribe’s president, Fawn Sharp, says they’ll also march to Hoquiam’s City Hall and host an open mic to voice their opposition for bringing oil trains to the area.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Seattle has a new tool in its campaign to fight homelessness. The city has unveiled a mobile health care clinic that aims to meet people where they are and keep them from falling through any cracks in the system.   

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Emergency Management offices around the state are analyzing the data collected during last month’s Cascadia Rising earthquake and tsunami drill. They say the four-day exercise did just what it was supposed to: uncover strengths and weaknesses of preparedness plans for a massive earthquake off the West Coast.

This Independence Day, don’t expect the scorching heat we’ve seen in recent summers around here. But it will be pleasant this year, with fine conditions for viewing fireworks, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.  

“You know this is going to be a classic July 4th weekend,” Mass said, “where there’s a lot of clouds and a few sprinkles.”

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.

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