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

Many of the West Coast’s top transportation innovators and policy experts are convening in Tacoma this week for the Green Transportation Summit and Expo. They’re looking at ways to cut back on emissions that harm public health and cause climate change. They're also showing off some of the newest equipment and alternative fuel technologies.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Runners, walkers and revelers will be among the first the cross the new SR-520 Bridge spanning Lake Washington.

The state Department of Transportation is opening the structure to pedestrians for a fun run tomorrow morning, followed by an all-day party for folks on foot.  Cyclists will have their shot at riding across on Sunday morning.

Tim Durkan Photography

The warm temperatures and sunny skies many folks have been enjoying this week in Western Washington will continue through most of the weekend and reappear after a short rainy spell Sunday night, says KPLU’s weather expert, Cliff Mass.

“The weather gods are still with us,” he said. And Friday will be a “really perfect day,” with temperatures reaching near 70, plenty of sun and no precipitation.

Nancy Heaslip / New York Department of Environmental Conservation

White-nose syndrome has killed more than 6 million bats in 28 states and five Canadian provinces since it was first documented nearly a decade ago in New York. Now, Washington state has become the most recent addition to that list, after hikers found a bat with the disease on a trail in North Bend, about 30 miles east of Seattle.

The U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center verified the disease in a little brown bat found on March 11.  It died two days later.

Bellamy Pailthorp

What are your plans for getting outdoors this spring? Do they involve a beach?  If so, a growing group of coastal-cleanup volunteers wants your help. The Washington Coastsavers want you to volunteer just a bit during your vacation — or maybe just as part of your weekend.

In fact, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has declared April 23 the “Washington Coast Cleanup Day.”

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

It’s one of the more dramatic-sounding aspects of climate change: as carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases speed up global warming, sea levels are expected to rise too.

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

A mostly cloudy scenario is in store this weekend, with rain only coming into the picture late Sunday and cooling mostly holding off till then too. So if you like grey skies and mild temps, it’s a great time to get outdoors.

“Today is going to be a perfect day for anything,” says Cliff Mass of Friday’s mix of sun and clouds.

“Temperatures are going to get up into the low 60s in many places away from the water — very nice day, plenty of sun, a few high clouds,” he said, summarizing it as “a spectacular spring day.”

Mixed Saturday

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

The non-profit that set up Pronto, as it is called, will be shut down. But the city of Seattle is spending nearly $1.5 million to bail out its troubled bike share system. Seattle’s City Council voted 7-2 to pay off its debt and added in a bit more money to cover transition costs. Its days were numbered until the city stepped in to rescue it.

Rick Bowmer / AP Images

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, was in Seattle this week. She delivered the keynote address at a Climate Leadership Conference Wednesday night.

But beforehand, she also spoke to students and faculty at the University of Washington’s schools of public health and public policy. She talked about her concerns in the wake of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where lead has been poisoning municipal water supplies.

She said at its heart, more than anything, this crisis is about money.

Matthew Brown / AP Images

Suspended plans for a major coal mine in Montana spell good news for people concerned about coal exports planned to go through ports in the Pacific Northwest. Activists say the proposed terminals left on the books are all nearing what they call "zombie status."

Zombie status, as in: still moving forward, but basically dead.

Jacob Bell, 4, holds a pinwheel toy into a high wind, with heavy surf behind, Nov. 17, 2015, in Seattle. Rain and high winds snarled the morning commute that day in the Puget Sound area and the Inland Northwest braced for severe weather.
Elaine Thompson / AP Images

If you’re needing a walk this weekend — of the leisurely kind — you’d better get outdoors early Friday. That’s the word from KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, says lots more of the wet, windy weather is headed our way. And there’s potential for a major windstorm to hit Seattle on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, later today, another weather system is going to move up the coast, precipitation is going to increase this afternoon and it will get a little breezier,” he said of Friday’s outlook.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, is in Seattle this week. She’s giving the keynote address at this year's Climate Leadership Conference on Wednesday evening.

Mike Kane / AP Images & Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The Snoqualmie Casino is the site this week for a two-day Tribal Green Summit. The conference is highlighting best practices in sustainable design.

The event is designed for tribal officials throughout the Northwest who specialize in resource management and environmental programs, but it’s open to the general public. An overall theme of the meeting is reducing waste at the source.

courtesy of Wash State Department of Natural Resources

Tacoma Public Utilities has taken possession of 70 acres of public lands near Lake Cushman that were previously owned by the State Department of Natural Resources. Under the deal, the parcel will remain open space for recreation and will stay closed be logging or development.

Tim Durkan Photography

Have you noticed an abundance of rainy days over the past several months, but also warmer than normal temps? If so, you’re a really good judge of what’s been happening in Northwest skies lately.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s been the wettest water year in Seattle’s history. And this weekend, the systems will deliver a bunch more of the same, so keep that lightweight rain gear handy.

Ted S. Warren / AP Images


Courtesy Eastside Rail Now

Rush-hour congestion in the corridor east of Lake Washington, along Interstate 405, is an everyday hassle for many commuters. Authorities with King County Natural Resources and Parks say they’re working on alternatives. Among them is a major rails-to-trails project that would connect communities from Renton to Redmond.

At the heart of the Eastside rail corridor is Bellevue’s iconic Wilberton Trestle. That’s where officials are releasing a draft plan for development options. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Keep your rain gear handy and catch some sunshine while you can. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a weak front showing up on the weather radar will arrive in the greater Seattle area sometime after 4 p.m. Friday, putting an end to the sunny skies many of us have been experiencing for the past week.   

Ted S. Warren / AP Images

If you ever want to see KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass get passionate, just ask him about the coastal radar system.

“Weather radar is one of the most powerful tools that meteorologists have to see what’s going on,” he says.

You can hear the excitement in his voice as he makes an analogy to the technology used in modern medicine to see inside patients’ bodies.

“You know if you’re a doctor and you want to diagnose someone’s innards, you need an MRI or a CT scan.”

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

There are some people who see a problem and find a solution. That’s true of one student at Seattle Pacific University who transformed her feelings about what she was observing into action. Now, her school is all set to become the first private college in Washington state to feed the homeless by recovering leftover meals, rather than letting them go to the compost bin.

21-year-old Maya Swinehart says sometimes seeing people without shelter causes her to do things many other people don’t.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

When Kathy Holzer was a kid living on the outskirts of Chicago, she would climb her parents’ apple trees in their orchard. She was always up in the tree -- with her dog sleeping below.

“And they'd always know where I was because there was the dog so I must be in that tree,” Holzer said. “And I always broke out the dead branches that were in my way, because it always seemed -- intuitively -- that the tree didn’t need them.” 

My poor dad, Holtzer continued,  would see the piles of dead branches underneath the trees and wonder, 'Who's been doing this?'

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Heavy rain is back and many people in the Pacific Northwest are starting to get tired of it.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass confirms that ‘wicked’ is a fine word to describe it, especially on Friday.

“We have an occluded front coming through. And I can see on the radar some fairly heavy rain on the coast coming into the Puget Sound region, so it will be wickedly raining,” he says.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Monsanto was the sole producer of PCBs in the United States from 1935 to 1979.  That’s according to a lawsuit filed against the company.

The City of Seattle has joined forces with five other cities in the suit, all of which are aiming to hold the Monsanto Company responsible for costs required of them under environmental laws on the state and federal levels.  The concern is PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls in sediments and drainage infrastructure. 

(Tessica Truang is on the right. Kathleen Yang is on the left.)
Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Opposition to the proposed expansion of a pipeline in Canada took center stage Friday in British Columbia.

Canada’s National Energy Board heard testimony from several parties, including a Seattle lawyer representing four Washington state tribes. None of the parties scheduled to go before the board on Friday morning were in favor of the project.

Tim Durkan Photography

The atmospheric river that has been aimed at the Pacific Northwest like a fire hose is starting to let up. That means people in the area can expect a relatively pleasant Sunday for outdoor pursuits, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. And the drier skies should help lift the risk of road closures due to avalanches on the mountain passes.

Heavy Rain From The Tropics Tapering Off

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / AP

Conservationists are urging the federal government to extend federal protections to the American sage grouse, a bird that’s at the center of a conflict between conservationists and mining interests.

That conflict is focused on land conservation, including lots of territory in eastern Washington and Idaho.

The charismatic bird can be compared to the spotted owl for the Pacific Northwest, according to many bird lovers and groups that protect them – among those the American Bird Conservancy.

About a dozen demonstrators blocked the tracks at a Burlington Northern Santa Fe yard to protest oil trains.
Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Five activists who joined forces in an attempt to stop oil and coal  trains from traveling through the Northwest have been convicted of criminal trespassing. That’s after a jury in Lynnwood handed down its verdict on Friday.

The so-called “Delta 5” lost their key argument, about whether it was necessary to chain themselves to the train tracks along with a huge tripod and banner, designed to stop the trains.

SDOT Photos / Flickr

With precipitation dominating the forecast in most of the region, what will happen to snow in our mountains?

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s going to be a wet weekend.

“There will be plenty of rain,” he said.

Friday will be cloudy, with temps getting up into the lower 40s.

“Nothing too exciting,” he says. “But then the fun stuff starts.”

A much stronger front will come in on Saturday morning, bringing moderate to heavy rain in western Washington and substantial snow in the mountains, especially above about 4,000 feet.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

As lawmakers reconvene in Olympia, legislative proposals to limit carbon pollution are piling up. All are ideas that address how to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Some involve a cap-and-trade system, similar to what California and some New England states have done.

Others are straight taxes, following British Columbia’s example.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

How to limit the carbon pollution that causes climate change and global warming is a key issue as lawmakers get going in Olympia this week. Dozens of legislative proposals have been submitted on the topic, some with multiple versions that use very minor changes in wording in attempts to see which proposals would have the best chances of passing.

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