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

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.  

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

If you ever thought that Washington’s often cloudy skies stand in the way of solar power here, think again, says Jeremy Smithson.

The CEO of Puget Sound Solar stood in his warehouse on Rainier Ave. South, surrounded by stacks of solar panels.

“And these are not just inventory – these are all sold projects,” he said, gesturing toward the stacks.

TED S. WARREN / AP Photo

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making good on its promise to put forward a clean water rule for Washington, in case the state doesn’t come up with its own plan in time.

At issue is how much fish the government says is safe to eat, if it’s caught in polluted water. 

Creative Commons

Rent prices in Seattle are increasingly out of reach for many people.

As Seattle grows, the city council and the mayor want to require funding for affordable housing units with all new developments.

AP Images

Joking that he was "out of practice" in forecasting rain for the Pacific Northwest, KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass said he'd do his best in predicting substantial amounts rain and wind for the weekend.

AP Images

New tools and new strategies are needed to fight and prevent wildfires nationwide. That was the sentiment at a field hearing held in Seattle by the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The hearing  was convened by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell of Washington, a Democrat, and John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican. They are collecting testimony for the Wildland Fire Management Act of 2015.

AP Images

This summer’s extreme drought is becoming increasingly deadly for fish in the northwest.

The state department of Fish and Wildlife had already lost about one and a half million juvenile fish in overheated rivers and streams in Washington at the end of July, due to this summer’s historically warm temperatures and low water levels.

AP Images

Generally cooler temperatures this weekend should help firefighters gain headway in massive, stubborn wildfire in Eastern Washington, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

"Right now we have a little bit of a cool-down going on" Mass said. "We'll see a step-down into the mid 70s (Friday) some low clouds and most of those will burn off during the day."

The weekend will see a slight uptick in temperatures with temperatures in the lower 80s. Next will a major cool-down will begin. "Cooler than normal for much of the week and even a chance of some rain later in the week -- especially on Thursday and Friday," he said.

Mass said that slight, two-day rise in temperatures won't do firefighters any good but come next week, they should catch a break. "If they can get to Monday," he said, "we'll see cooler temperatures and more humidity over the fire area." 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Mount Rainier is famous as the most glaciated peak in  the contiguous United States. But the massive flows of ice and snow that cover the mountain are retreating rapidly, likely more rapidly than ever in the record warmth of this summer.

Participants in the 2015 "Climate Boot Camp" put on by the Northwest Climate Science Center gathered this week in Mount Rainier National Park to learn more about the dynamics behind this phenomenon. 

AP Images

A towering fish trap standing on end . Hundreds of pristine white ceramic shapes eating their way into the bark of a fallen tree. Or an estuary sculpted out of shipping containers. These are just a few examples of the dozens of art installations that have recently popped up alongside Seattle’s only river.

The exhibition is called Duwamish Revealed. It’s meant to remind viewers that the waterway running through the city’s industrial core is more than a toxic Superfund site. 

The efforts to expand perspectives on the Duwamish include works by 40 artists from around the world.

You can experience the work of a local sound engineer by venturing out onto a pier at West Seattle’s Jack Block Park. You might not see anything unusual right away, but you could find yourself startled by the sound of art emerging from the water beneath you.

Robb Kunz co-created an 8-channel installation that surrounds the pier with sound together with composer Joshua Kohl of the Degenerate Art Ensemble. The piece is called “Under Pier Pressure.”

Kunz says he wanted to contribute to the show because he's enamored with the strange confluence of the industrial and natural that he finds on the Duwamish. His composition aims to match the physical surroundings.

“So, found sounds, concrete sound of nature and industry,” he said.

You can push a button to activate the sounds, but Kunz says he likes it best when people happen upon them mid-stream.

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