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

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The University of Washington held its first annual symposium on environmental law last week. The idea is to choose a topic and examine how it fits into current and future regulations. This year’s focus—ocean acidification. 

Morgen Bell / Flickr via Compfight


Another wet weekend is in store as a more normal pattern of November weather has returned to the Northwest, with cooler temperatures and persistent storms coming through every few days, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. There is even the likelihood of a reasonably good ski season this year.

Susan Walsh / AP

Seattle voters are the first in the country to approve a new form of public campaign financing.

Backers of Initiative 122 say it is a local solution to the national problem of big money in politics. The city’s taxpayers will fund so-called “democracy vouchers” that all registered voters can use to support Seattle candidates who agree to take part. 

Daniel X. O'Neil via Creative Commons

Despite strong leads for all of the incumbents in Seattle’s city council races, the new council will be younger and more diverse than the current one. That’s one likely effect of the new district elections. 

Women will make up the majority of Seattle’s new city council; and it will have two Latinas, one of whom is also Native American.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Kids packed a courtroom in Seattle on Tuesday to hear oral arguments in a case about their future. Eight young teenagers are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state Department of Ecology. They want to force action on climate change.

“It just feels like there’s not enough people who care about, like, animals and other things that can’t talk for themselves – babies who haven’t been born yet, people from the future, basically,” said 13-year-old Lara Fain.

Oregon Department of Transportation

For many people, solar power is out of reach, because it is too expensive or because they don’t have a good place to put panels.  But there is a new option for residents in Tacoma.

Tacoma Power is launching a community venture for customers who want to invest in solar energy without buying their own equipment.

Elaine Thompson / KPLU

The “sizzle factor” is low in this off-year election, which is why local officials say they are only expecting about a 46 percent return once all the votes are tallied. Nonetheless, they are urging people to get their ballots in by Tuesday’s deadline.

Ted S. Warren / AP

It has been 25 years since the federal government passed the Pollution Prevention Act. The 1990 law is credited with reducing industrial waste by as much as 60 percent since it was enacted, by getting companies and governments to look upstream at what goes into the manufacturing process and stopping pollution at the source.

Morgen Bell / Flickr via Compfight

Keep your parkas handy or maybe an umbrella if you’re trick-or-treating this weekend. The forecast is full of rain — very heavy rain in places, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“It’s going to be really wet,” he said. “It’s pretty scary if you’re going to go hiking or go up into the mountains,” so you might want to rethink such plans.  

Mass says a series of “very wet systems” is coming in off the Pacific Ocean, and there’s “a tremendous amount of moisture behind it.”

Three Waves Of Wet Stuff

Vladimir / Flickr via Compfight

A small non-profit in the San Juan Islands has taken the lead in an international campaign to protect the Salish Sea from adverse effects of shipping.

Currently, proposals for 14 new or upgraded export facilities for fossil fuels in British Columbia and five in northwestern Washington could dramatically increase shipping traffic through local waters.

Emersb via Creative Commons

Voters in Snohomish County are choosing their next executive. It is a race between two well-known Democrats with contrasting styles.

The state's third-largest county has never elected a Republican to its highest office. But the decisive factor in this contest may end up being which candidate can attract the most the votes from Snohomish County’s Republicans. 

Tim Durkan Photography

Enjoy the, mild fall weather this weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, because there is going to be a big shift to wetter and cooler weather in the days ahead.

“You can expect the precipitation to turn on in a big way during the next week to two weeks,” Mass said, explaining that computer models show that the typical switch from sunny and warm autumn days, to damper and cooler weather is upon us.

He expects that transition sometime next week. So if you’re a hiker, Mass says this weekend is one you will want to enjoy.

David Nogueras / KPLU

Seattle voters are getting ready to choose who will represent their district. Seven district seats will be decided, as well at two at large positions. KPLU’s election series, Back On The Block, revisits issues affecting each district and introduces us to the candidates.

Reese Semanko via AP

Local environmentalists are celebrating the Obama administration’s announcement that it is canceling upcoming auctions for drilling rights in the Arctic’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

The Interior Department also announced it has denied requests for extensions of Arctic leases currently held by Shell and Statoil.

Tim Durkan Photography

If outdoor plans are in store for you this weekend, you’ll want to keep the rain gear handy and maybe an extra layer as well.

Friday will be the last 70 degree day for a long time, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, as a rainy pattern returns to the Northwest.

He says it’s been amazingly warm for mid-October. Highs hit 70 on Thursday and they’re expected to do so again on Friday.

“That’s ten degrees above normal,” said Mass, who teaches Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Elaine Thomson / AP Photo

It has been about a year and a half since the tragic mudslide in Oso that killed 43 people.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell saw the site of the slide for the first time on Thursday. She was home in the Northwest highlighting the need for more disaster preparedness. 

Christopher Pluta via Pixabay

Some residents in the higher hills of Seattle and Issaquah experienced tropical weather overnight, with warm, moist air pushing temperatures up as high as 70 degrees by Friday morning.

Everyone else was in the 50s, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

JPellgen / Flickr

Facing pressure from federal regulators, Governor Jay Inslee has directed state officials to take another stab at updating clean water rules, tied partly to how much fish people eat.

Ted S. Warren / AP

More than 150 groups in Washington state have come together to form the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. It’s an effort to fight climate change that some are calling “historic in scope.” The consortium has announced plans to put a statewide carbon-capping initiative before voters in 2016. 

Šarūnas Burdulis via Wikimedia Commons

The predicted effects of global climate change are grim, to say the least. Global warming is expected to cause more extreme weather events, as well as a rise in sea level, drought and flooding; it’s not a pretty picture.

But, according to weather blogger and KPLU commentator Cliff Mass, it won’t actually be that bad here in the Northwest.

Tim Durkan Photography

If Friday’s clouds and drizzle are getting you down, hang in there. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a warm, sunny weekend is in store as soon as the work week ends.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

A five-month-long quest to swim the entire length of Seattle’s Green-Duwamish River has come to a successful end. Mark Powell, Washington Environmental Council’s Puget Sound Program Director, says it gave him new perspective on the river that runs through the industrial heart of the city. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

The Port of Seattle has won a dispute with the City of Seattle over the legality of its lease with Royal Dutch Shell.

After testimony in August about the definition of cargo, Seattle’s Hearing Examiner reversed the city’s determination and now says Shell can legally use Terminal 5 as a home port for its Arctic drilling fleet.

The ruling says servicing Shell’s vessels is a permissible use for a cargo terminal.  

Tim Durkan Photography

Fall has officially arrived and we can feel it. Temperatures have dropped. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says Friday’s rain will quickly move east, making way for sunny skies this weekend.

“Precipitation will lighten up certainly by the early afternoon here on the western side,” Mass said. “So, not a warm day, but at least it will be dry the second half,” he said, predicting temperatures only reaching the lower to mid-60s. “So definitely below normal and cooler than what we’ve had before.”

An Improving Trend This Weekend

Washington State Department of Ecology

Don’t let the cooler temperatures and rain we’ve seen recently fool you. State officials say Washington’s historic drought is not over -- and it’s very likely to continue into next year.

Maia Bellon, Director of the State Department of Ecology, told reporters on a conference call that we’re not out of the woods yet. Western Washington remains in a severe drought and the east side in extreme drought, with reservoirs all over the state greatly depleted.

AP

When Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in the Seattle area tomorrow, one of his first stops will be a forum focusing specifically on clean technology and economic development.  Five U.S. governors are also expected to attend, along with six Chinese governors and other officials. 

On the agenda will be the question of what can be done with emerging clean energy technologies to add not just to commerce but also to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause air pollution and contribute to climate change.

Tim Durkan Photography

“No one’s going to mistake this weekend for July,” quipped KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. He says Saturday will be the best day of a mostly cloudy weekend that will become increasingly wet.

Friday, Mass says there will be some showers floating around, mostly offshore, and clouds elsewhere. “For most people, it’ll be relatively dry – much drier than yesterday,” He said. “So, you know, an okay day.” Temperatures will get into the upper 60s.

Get Your Outdoor Fun In On Saturday

Don Ryan / AP

The devastating wildfires in eastern Washington and California this year are pointing to the need for new policies. More focus on managing fire and less on suppression is what is needed, according to a panel of scientists, including one from the University of Washington.

Tim Durkan Photography

You may have heard that predicting the weather in the Pacific Northwest is especially difficult. 

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says that may have been the case in past decades. But the truth now is, it’s not.

"In fact, that’s one of the great fantasies of the weather world: that somehow it’s really hard to predict here, the skill is much less than other places, because of the big Pacific," Mass said. "That’s, in fact, not true."

An Ocean's Influence

Tim Durkan Photography

If your plans for the long Labor Day weekend include outdoor activities, be ready for a chance of rain on Sunday. Other than that, it will be mostly sunny and warm, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“There will be a lot of sun. But one day will be cloudy and maybe a little bit of rain and that’s Sunday,” Mass said.  

Keep That Raingear Handy Friday

Friday morning’s residual clouds were burning off by afternoon, leaving the lowlands basking in plenty of sun. Mass warned of fewer sun breaks in the mountains.  

Pages