Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp joined the staff of KPLU as a general assignment reporter in 1999 and covered the business and labor beat for more than a decade. She now covers the environment beat. She was raised in Seattle, but spent 8 years in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989. She holds a Bachelors degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006.

Bellamy's most memorable KPLU radio moment: “Seeing the INS open a shipping container at the Port of Seattle that contained stowaways from China, three of whom died en route of seasickness. Harrowing stuff, with global economics and inequity at its root.”

Ways To Connect

Elaine Thompson / AP

One of the biggest challenges Seattle faces is its transportation systems. The city is launching a series of talks at the library about the future of mobility. The aim is to get the public thinking about urban design as the population grows. 

Debra Scollard

It was an emotional day in Oso, exactly one year after the mudslide on Highway 530 near the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

Families and first responders came together to commemorate their loss and celebrate their community. 

Bagpipes sounded out as pipe and drum corps from Snohomish and King counties led the way for first responders and elected officials.

All were paying tribute to the 43 people who died in the Oso mudslide. Those honoring them gathered in the middle of the highway, which was closed for three hours to commemorate the loss and recovery.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

In Oso this weekend, thousands of people are expected to turn out for memorial gatherings to mark the anniversary of one of the nation’s deadliest landslides.

First responders and families of the 43 people who died are asking the public to give them space.

Stephanie Sinclair

Spring is officially here.

The vernal equinox means that days and nights are of equal length. From here on out, the days will get longer. It’s also a great season for cloudgazing, which KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass knows a lot about.

This weekend will bring plenty of opportunities for admiring all kinds of clouds.

“Clouds like altostratus and altocumulus that will be thickening in,” Mass said. “Another cloud that’s very popular around here we’ll see tomorrow morning: the stratocumulus – low clouds that have these heaps and clear skies in between.”

One year ago, a mudslide wreaked havoc on Oso, a small community in Washington state. It took just a few minutes to topple dozens of homes, leaving 43 people dead. Volunteers and first responders rushed to the scene to save trapped residents. Yet, remarkably, none of them were hurt, at least not physically.

In the weeks and months following the landslide, thousands of people from the outlying areas formed teams. Loggers brought in heavy equipment; Red Cross and other groups organized volunteers and protected families from the throngs of media.

Bellamy Pailthorp

A year ago Sunday, 43 people died in the devastating Oso mudslide. Thousands of volunteers turned up to help. And, even if they hadn't lost someone themselves, coping this past year has been tough.

LISTEN: Two volunteers describe their experience:


A TV set depicting a Zombie Apocalypse will go up in Olympia on Tuesday.

The makers of the sci-fi series “Z-nation” are setting up shop at the state capitol to show how many kinds of jobs are involved when film crews come to town. They’re pressing lawmakers to approve more incentives for movie making in Washington state.

"Z-Nation" is filmed in Spokane, but for one day, an apocalyptic set inspired by the show will be in Olympia to demonstrate how many jobs are linked to film work.

Tim Durkan Photography

Get your tee shirts and shorts out. You'll need them as we head into the weekend. 

That’s the word from KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, who says the warm air above us is “warm enough that if it was completely sunny today, many people would experience temperatures getting into the lower 70s.”

Possibility Of Record-Breaking Temps Friday

The big question, Mass said, is how much the clouds will thicken up on Friday around the Puget Sound region.

If they’re thick, Mass says temperatures will hit 66 or 67 degrees, which is way warmer than normal.

A federal court will hear oral arguments Monday in Seattle, in a case that pits the United States against the State of Washington. It has to do with who gets to take how much fish.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez has set aside 3 weeks in his calendar to hear issues involved.

Three tribes are mentioned in the current litigation: the Makah, the Quileute and the Quinault Indian Nations. They’re fighting with each other.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

When you start talking with David Kirtley, don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel like you’re in a comic strip.  

Kirtley is the CEO of Redmond-based Helion Energy, and his business plan sounds like fantasy. He says the potential for solving all of our energy problems is contained in what looks like just a drop of water.

Tim Durkan

If rainy weather makes you blue, don’t worry. The sun will come out on Saturday, and the weekend will bring us back to the pattern of sunshine. 

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass sounded a bit surprised to see rain coming down on Friday, amid one of the sunniest winters we’ve experienced in a long time.

Tim Durkan

Friday’s clouds and sprinkles are moving out, and sunshine and more warmth are coming in this weekend.

And you can expect the pattern of unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having in western Washington to intensify over the next week, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Tim Durkan

Mother Nature is serving up sunny skies and amazingly warm temperatures for the long Valentine’s Day weekend.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says conditions will be “perfect for conditions hikers, bikers and gardeners; let’s not mention skiers." 

Jeff Barnard / AP Photo

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story quoted Rep. Gael Tarleton, who said, "Oregon has a moratorium" on suction dredge mining. She also said, "The state of Idaho has banned suction dredging under the Clean Water Act." The state of Oregon does not have a moratorium though it does restrict the practice, and the state of Idaho has banned the practice only in some waters, including all areas designated as critical habitat for endangered salmon. 

Washington is the only state left in the Pacific Northwest where people mining for gold and other minerals are allowed unrestricted use of motorized vacuums in riverbeds.

The practice is known as suction dredge mining, and some are concerned it’s harmful to endangered fish. A bill before the legislature would place new restrictions on it while its impacts are studied.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The CEO of the Port of Seattle has signed a lease agreement that will allow the Shell Oil Company to base part of its Arctic drilling fleet in West Seattle despite the threat of a lawsuit from a coalition of environmental groups.

Orlin Wagner / AP Photo

The changing composition of crude oil could have big consequences for the future of the Pacific Northwest economy. That’s one of the key ideas behind a Freedom of Information Act request filed Tuesday by three environmental nonprofit groups. It has to do with exceptions being made to the nation’s 40-year policy of banning most exports of crude oil.

Tim Durkan

Keep your rain gear handy.

The record rain that hit Seattle and drenched the Olympic Mountains Thursday will keep pounding the region for most of the weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Courtesy Peter Steinbrueck /

It’s been 20 years since Seattle adopted a growth management strategy based on so-called “urban villages.”

Those are neighborhoods targeted for high density to help reduce urban sprawl. A new report gives the city a mixed review. Among the critiques: people aren’t living close enough to where they work.

Tim Durkan

Dense fog blanketed much of the region Friday morning, but it burned off quickly, though morning fog is in the forecast again Saturday.

“Strangely enough, that’s a good sign,” said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Matthew Brown / AP Photo

An overflowing crowd turned out to testify in Skagit County Thursday on plans to add an oil-train facility to Shell’s refinery in Anacortes.

The company says it needs to be able to receive Bakken crude by rail to remain competitive. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Environmentalists turned out in full force Wednesday to voice their opposition to a Port of Seattle agreement allowing Shell Oil to base its 26-ship Arctic drilling fleet in West Seattle.

A coalition of state and national groups is threatening to sue the Port over its agreement to lease the currently-vacant Terminal 5 to the oil company for up to four years.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Governor Jay Inslee’s plan to put a cap on carbon emissions and make big polluters pay got its first hearing in Olympia today. The bill would charge the state’s top emitters for each ton released, starting in July 2016. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

A proposed law that’s making its way through the state legislature could change the way first responders are mobilized during major emergencies, such as floods and landslides. Because the slide that devastated Oso last March wasn’t a fire, state crews were slow to help local teams.

Steve Mohundro / Flickr

Western Washington has been warmer than normal lately. People were shedding layers as the mercury hit temperatures in the 50s this week.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says that pattern will continue and intensify this weekend, especially on Sunday. Records will be broken.

SDOT / Flickr

The lethal effects of urban runoff that kills some salmon and their prey can be reversed by filtering the water through a common soil mix, according to new research by state and federal scientists.

When it rains or people wash their cars, the water that runs over pavement picks up toxic chemicals such as oils, heavy metals and residue from car emissions. This can go straight into our waterways.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

In the wake of the deadly landslide in Oso, Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a statewide database for geological hazard mapping figures.

Information is an important resource when it comes to preparing for potential hazards such as landslides or earthquakes. 

Ted S. Warrena / AP Photo

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says his email inbox has been full of questions about when the snow will return to western Washington, especially in the mountains and ski areas.

“In fact, things are not great right now,” Mass said. And extended forecasts indicate it’s unlikely to improve much this year.

Tim Durkan

The mild winter weather will continue through the weekend, and a burst of rain expected Saturday should die down in time for the Seahawks game, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

USGS

The incredible size and speed of the Oso landslide that killed 43 people last March has been a source of wonder, even for the most seasoned geologists investigating it.

Now the U.S. Geological Survey has published its first peer-reviewed study of the event. It focuses on the landslide’s high mobility as a major cause of the destruction.

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