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

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.

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.”

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