KPLU News Staff

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Washington State has the highest rate of seat belt use in the nation. That’s according to a report recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Bob Calkins with the Washington State Patrol keeps an eye on the statistics.

“The national average is 84 percent. We are first among competing states at 97 and a half percent,” he says.

Following Washington are California, Oregon and Hawaii.

b k / Flickr

Yes, this morning's brief showers showed that in fact our fabulous summer is at an end (but there will be more sunny days to come), says KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass added that forecasters were blindsided by this morning's rain across the region, but they are back on track with predictions of a front moving in this afternoon. That front too will bring some rain, but the clouds will burn off probably by Saturday evening and Sunday will be sunny.

The Associated Press

The twitterverse exploded last night with different reactions to the controversial call on Monday Night Football. The final play of the game, the controversial touchdown by Golden Tate,  gave the Seahawks a 14-12 victory over the Packers.  

Here is a mixed collection of tweets from people around the Seattle area regarding last night's win.

Evan Hoover / KPLU

The Seattle Police Department is launching a new advertising campaign on buses and billboards in hopes of generating tips about unsolved killings.

Today’s going to be hot again, but it's already cooler than expected this morning, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“We had some marine air that pushed up the coast, clouds have inundated the coastal areas. So if you're on the coast it's going to be cooler," he says. "And here in the interior we're starting cooler: five to ten degrees in some places. But the trouble is this cool marine air is very thin."

He says that cool marine layer will burn off fast, yielding to hot temps aloft. So today he expects highs of high 80s to 90 closer to the coast. And away from the water, perhaps the low 90s.

"So one more warm day. Then tomorrow a step down. Today's the hottest day."

There's a chance of thunderstorms Saturday afternoon, which could have a big impact on the wildfires in Cle Elum and Thorp. The danger is the chance of lighting without rain.

Erin Hennessey

Bouquets of flowers, cards and special messages written on large, white sheets of  paper are growing outside the KOMO television studios in Seattle in memory of longtime anchorwoman Kathi Goertzen. She died yesterday after a lengthy battle with a recurrent brain tumor. She documented her illness and treatments in appearances on KOMO and launched a foundation dedicated to brain tumor research.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. — The mysterious Mars photo has been solved.

A NASA engineer said Friday he's pretty sure a Curiosity rover camera caught the rocket stage crashing in the distance after it landed in Gale Crater Sunday night.

The Associated Press

Today’s going to be a great summer day, especially as some low clouds burn off later – but that’s not the best part of the forecast, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“Today is the worst day of the weekend, believe it or not. And temperatures are going to get up into the mid- to upper-70s even near 80 in a couple places. So, it’s just an absolute wonderful day. But it’s going to get even better,” he says.

The skies will stay clear and temperatures will warm as we get into the weekend, with many places away from the water seeing 80-plus degrees. 

Center for Whale Research

BREMERTON, Wash. — A newborn orca calf has been reported off the west side of San Juan Island in the Puget Sound.

The Center for Whale Research reports the new calf was first spotted midday Monday among the adults of J pod, one of three killer whale pods that frequent Puget Sound.

ripporch / Flickr

Don't let yesterday's warmer temps fake you out, says KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass. Fact is, we're stuck in a pattern of cloudy mornings and cool days deep into next week with possibly some rain arriving on Thursday.

The cause? "We have this persistent troughing along the West Coast, and associated with that is ridging over the middle of the country, " Mass said. "So, they’re getting this enhanced drought, and we’re getting the enhanced low clouds. We’re colder than normal, they're warmer than normal."

ryanobjc / Flickr

"This is the summer of thunderstorms," says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and meteorologist at the University of Washington.

An unusual pattern of low pressure keeps recurring over the western U.S., bringing the rain and lightning. Temperatures are about ten degrees below normal for this part of July--which is typically the sunniest part of the year in the Puget Sound area.

East of the mountains, there have been two flash floods, as of this morning.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

Claiming town cars are breaking the rules, Seattle taxi drivers are threatening to stop taking passengers to Sea-Tac Airport.

Mark Henckel / Flickr

Mostly, we’re thinking of your mental health a couple months from now.

You come here in July and August and it’s glorious: There’s two snow-capped mountain ranges, a couple of towering volcanos, lively outdoor markets, flowers and greenery, an expanse of blue water every which way you turn ... miles of lake, Sound and ocean beaches ...

Then come the other 10 months.

Cliff Mass / KPLU

The smoky skies over Seattle are likely from Asia and not Western fires, says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather forecaster and University of Washington professor.

In his blog post on the smoke, he said the air over us can be traced back to Asia at low levels.

Lindsay Lowe / KPLU

The level of intensity around the proposal to build a new NBA arena in Seattle is growing by the minute.

The group of investors – which we learned yesterday includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom family – drew hundreds to a "bring back our Sonics" rally in Pioneer Square today. It was a well-timed event to put pressure on the Seattle City Council and King County Council to back the deal.

“This is a very carefully orchestrated PR campaign," says KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel. "At the same time, the old Sonics – the Thunder – are in the NBA Finals this week. The angst could not be more intense in Seattle among sports fans who care about this because their 41-year passion is being thrown back in their face, mocked by the Thunder’s presence in the league’s championship series.”

The Associated Press

The only survivor of a shooting at a Seattle cafe where four other people were killed is expected to recover.

Harborview Medical Center reports Leonard Meuse has been upgraded from critical to serious condition. Spokeswoman Susan Gregg says he remains in the intensive care unit Thursday.

The two morning shootings in Seattle – leaving four dead and one wounded from the Cafe Racer Espresso on Roosevelt Way near the U-District and one dead on First Hill during a carjacking – were apparently committed by the same suspect, said Seattle Police Department Assistant Chief James Pugel.

The suspect shot himself in West Seattle later in the afternoon as police approached him, Pugel said. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center. The hospital reported Wednesday night that he was dead. A fourth victim at the Cafe Racer shooting also died Wednesday night, according to Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Greg.

One man wounded in the cafe shooting remained at Harborview. He was in critical but stable condition following surgery earlier in the day

Evan Hoover / KPLU

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn evoked his emergency powers – during a day of violent protests and six arrests – ordering police to confiscate items from May Day protesters and revelers alike that could be used to damage property.

Some protesters dressed all in black used 3-inch thick sticks, which were disguised as flag poles, and tire irons to break windows in Seattle during rolling protests and marches that paralyzed downtown.

"The police officers will be approaching individuals who’ll be carrying items known to be weapons, confront them and ask them to peacefully give them up.  And if not peacefully given up, they will be confiscated," McGinn said at an afternoon press conference.

Around 4:30 p.m. officers arrested a handful of protesters after one policeman took a pole from a protester at First Avenue and Pike Street. That protester attempted to take the pole back and several others came to his aid, but officers made the arrests and pushed the others back. Both sides then faced off again in the street at the Pike Place Market until the demonstrators migrated back to Westlake Center.

(Photo gallery and videos after jump.)

Konstantin Dimopoulos

A King County arts organization says 56 trees in Seattle and Kenmore will be painted blue starting April 2 in a temporary art project meant to make people aware of global deforestation.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Scientists at Washington State University were able to save a bald eagle that was found in Idaho suffering from lead poisoning, and this week they released the majestic predator back into the wild.

The Associated Press

Rep. Jay Inslee is resigning from Congress to focus full time on running for governor of Washington state this fall.

The Democrat announced his decision Saturday at a news conference in Seattle. Inslee is in his eighth term representing a Seattle-area district in the House.

Less than two weeks ago, Inslee told KPLU that he would remain in Congress while running for the governor's seat.

Inslee said then: “Listen, that did not stop me from putting out my job creation agenda. … Yes, I've got some responsibilities in Washington D.C., but we are pursuing a very vigorous effort to [get] people back to work.”

Cliff Mass / UW

A winter storm is bringing another shot of snow to parts of Washington.

The National Weather Service says a Pacific frontal system will hit the coast and northwest interior Tuesday with gusty winds and rain in most of Western Washington.

Donna Gordon Blankinship / Associated Press

The good news in this week's new Washington state revenue forecast has drawn the attention of everyone who wants some money for their department or program.

But in a statement put out by Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, Dorn says the state Constitution and the Supreme Court give Washington only one choice: pay for education first.

A King County Superior Court judge is set to hear arguments this afternoon, in a case brought by kids about climate change.  The young plaintiffs, who filed complaints against the Governor and several state agencies last May, are seeking an effective climate recovery plan from government.  The State has filed a motion to dismiss the case. 

Today’s hearing is part of an international youth campaign launched by the iMatter Trust.  Young people have filed legal actions across the nation as well as a federal lawsuit to compel governments to protect and restore the atmosphere.  According to the organization’s website, a federal hearing has not been set.

Monica Spain / KPLU

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced at a press conference this afternoon that the city has received a proposal to bring NBA and NHL back to Seattle. He said the new facility would be 'self-funded' but would include public money upfront.

McGinn said $200 million from city and county would be invested, but the funds would be paid back through rent and tax revenue generated at the new facility. He said guarantees for paying back the money would be in the agreement.

"The $200 million investment from the county and city would be repaid (from) revenue that would not otherwise exist," McGinn said.

Seattle Aquarium

The Point Defiance Zoo is welcoming a visitor tomorrow for a special post-Valentine's Day tryst with Jaya – a Sumatran tiger named Malosi.

“We’re very excited about Malosi’s arrival and the pair’s potential to produce cubs,” said general curator Karen Goodrowe Beck. “The Sumatran tiger is critically endangered and we are working hard to protect and boost the population of this extraordinary species.”

With an overabundance of cute and a giant fan club already, the baby female sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium will be named possibly on Feb. 27, said Tim Kuniholm, a spokesman for the Seattle Aquarium.

The aquarium will post a range of names on its Website either next Monday or Tuesday and throw open the voting. The baby’s potential names will be a Native Alaskan place name or name from an Alaskan indigenous language, Kuniholm said.

The Associated Press

"I clearly wanted him dead. But I got smart."

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are considering a plan to save money by abolishing the death penalty in the state. That idea got a hearing in Olympia.

Karil Klingbeil testified in support of the ban. Her sister, Candy Hemmig, was murdered 30 years ago in Olympia. The killer, Mitchell Rupe was dubbed “the man too fat to hang.” He initially got the death penalty, but after 20 years of appeals, received a life sentence instead.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gay marriage proponents urged their supporters not to become complacent following news the Legislature has enough votes to make Washington the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.

More than 250,000 people are without power and all modes of transportation are still a mess, but “this snow/sleet/freezing rain event is basically done,” reports KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

However, Mass said on his weather blog, “Now I hate to bring this up ... but the forecast models for the next week indicate some intense weather in store for us. Heavy rains, strong windstorms.”

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