Bellamy Pailthorp | KNKX

Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat from the Seattle offices of KNKX 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 KNKX’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

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Where there’s heat, there is often fire. The fire risk on both sides of the Cascade Mountains is high in the week ahead, as temperatures will be zooming up as high as 90 degrees after a rather dry June.

Courtesy Centers For Disease Control

It’s the height of summer and the forecast is looking very sunny, providing great conditions for water sports on local lakes.

That also means a higher risk of swimmer's itch, which is linked to another feature of summer that many people enjoy: the presence of waterfowl.

Starbucks.com

Starbucks has announced long-awaited plans to phase out plastic straws. The company will replace them with a strawless lid that looks a bit like a child’s sippy cup. They’ll also be offering straws made out of alternative materials such as paper and corn-based plastics that can be composted.

The policy applies to all of Starbucks’ stores around the globe. It is to be implemented worldwide, by 2020. The company says this builds on a $10 million commitment it made in March to work harder on creating truly recyclable cups.

vmax137 / Compfight via Flickr

If the cloudy and sometimes dark skies of late have been hard on you, just hang on a bit.  KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says “an improving trend” is ahead. 

Residents of the Pacific Northwest should soon be enjoying a long stretch of sunny skies. They have even  inspired music - like the 1969 TV tune about “the bluest skies you’ve ever seen” are  in Seattle.

Kristin Laidre / via PNAS

New trade routes have opened up in the Arctic as melting sea ice makes those waters passable. Because it’s just starting, relatively little data exists about the impacts of the increased shipping traffic on marine mammals.

John Froschauer / AP Photo

Like many suburban cities around the region, the waterfront community of Edmonds has a total ban on fireworks. But there’s an enclave within the city that is officially not part of the city. So the law doesn’t apply.

That means a special scenario on the Fourth of July.

courtesy Digital Third Coast. / Courtesy Digital Third Coast.

Public officials often express concern about emergency preparedness, with a key message to residents that we should have enough food, water and medication stowed in our homes to sustain us for at least a few days and as long as two or three weeks.

A new study ranks Washington State second in the country for natural disaster preparedness related to extreme weather. Oregon comes in third.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Cloudy skies and cooler-than-normal temperatures will dominate in the week ahead, a continuation of the weather pattern many refer to as “June gloom” for the gray or “Juneuary” when the cloud cover comes with cold air.

It’s the kind of ‘blah’ weather that can disappoint people who expect blue skies in June. But the gray, at least, is pretty typical. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s going to stick around for a while.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

You may have noticed more food service providers changing the kinds of disposable utensils you get with takeout. In Seattle, a ban on plastic straws and cutlery officially kicks in this weekend. As of July 1, all eateries in city limits are required to provide straws and utensils that can be composted.

Courtesy First American Project

A newly formed coalition of tribal leaders and communities of color plans to put its combined weight behind the latest voter initiative to curb carbon pollution.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

Cooler weather has settled in all around the Puget Sound region after a rapid drop in temperatures that started Wednesday night.

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says there will be a bit more sun peeking through the clouds in the days ahead. But overall, summer is starting with a mellower feel than the recent heat wave that pushed temps into the mid- and upper-80s.  

Flickr via Compfight

Trees provide lots of benefits that make cities more livable and ecosystems healthier. Smaller cities around the region, including Redmond and Lake Forest Park, have ordinances in place to protect larger trees from being cut down by developers or homeowners.

Inciweb via AP

Summer this year in the Pacific Northwest is once again expected to be hotter and drier than normal. That means higher potential for wildfires from July through September.

Just in time for the heat, a new book on fighting and managing those fires is out from local publisher, Mountaineers Books. It’s focused on an elite wildland firefighting force in Boulder, Colorado.

Andrei Pungovschi) / AP Photo

Last week brought heavy rain showers with cooler temps and even some snow to the mountains in places. But that’s changing as high pressure builds over the region, allowing a big warmup just in time for summer solstice celebrations this weekend and Father’s Day on Sunday.

Ellen Hoke / Great Pacific Race

Less than a week into an event that was expected to last well into July, Seattle climate rower Eliza Dawson is back on land.

All are safe, but strong Pacific winds ultimately thwarted her four-woman team’s attempt to travel 2,400 miles across the Pacific, on human-power alone.  

Ted S. Warren/file / AP Photo

Tribes and conservationists are celebrating a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that upholds tribal treaty fishing rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had already ruled squarely in favor of the tribes.

Zach Radmer / US Fish and Wlidlife Service

About fifty citizen scientists and volunteer experts are converging in the south Sound Saturday for a "bioblitz." That’s when people get together for a few hours and try to document as many species as possible in one place.

Jeremy Hainsworth / AP Photo

Canada’s government is buying the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline. It connects tar sands oil fields in Alberta to a terminus in British Columbia. Hidden in the details of the agreement with the Kinder Morgan corporation is a surprising fact that connects the deal to Washington state.   

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

This May, people living in the Puget Sound region experienced a lot of warmth and a month so dry, it matched the record for the driest May on record. The dry spell actually began in mid-April, so it lasted about 6 weeks.

That was changing Friday as clouds rolled in and skies began to darken. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says folks here had better keep their rain gear in reach.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

The Olympic Peninsula is often thought of as a destination for coastal hikes along rugged beaches or cozy restaurants with stunning mountain backdrops. Olympic National Park, the "un-dammed" Elwha River, and the annual Lavender Festival in Sequim are some of the main attractions.

There’s also a year-round Saturday farmers market in Port Angeles that has been going since the early 1980s. It was one of the first in the region. At this time of year, it’s rich with all kinds of colorful produce, as well as arts and crafts.

One official says 2017 is going down in history as "the year of the smoke," in many communities.
Randy L. Rasmussen / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell is advocating for more use of prescribed burns to protect communities and their firefighters.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Cooler temps, clouds and wind gusts ushered out the record warmth Seattle area residents experienced in May, which also tied a record for lack of rain. All that changed on Friday as marine air surged in and cooled things off.

Ellen Hoke / courtesy GreatPacificRace.com

Seattle Climate Rower Eliza Dawson is in California now, in the final phases of training for the Great Pacific Race.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

The mix of sun and clouds in the Memorial Day weekend forecast should not come as a surprise to people living in the greater Puget Sound region.

Late May weather here often brings a tantalizing mix of sunny warmth with clouds that can quickly yield to cooler skies as drizzle or cool marine air pushes in.

But the weekend forecast should be mostly drizzle-free, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass.

courtesy Rob Harmon, MEETS Coalition. MEETS stands for 'Metered Energy Efficiency Transaction Structure.'

One of the most effective sources of so-called ‘clean energy’ is increasing efficiency, so less is needed to heat or cool or light a building.

A new program from Seattle City Light incentivizes landlords to invest in those upgrades.

Kathy Moses / Colville Tribes Environmental Trust Program via AP

A rapid melt of mountain snowpack in eastern and central Washington is pushing some rivers to high levels not seen in decades.

It’s not that unusual, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass, who expects the mild weather nearer to the coast to continue through this weekend.

Credit Kevin Kniestedt

At the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash., monitors are updating the latest Kilauea eruption on Hawaii's Big Island. About half the scientists there are helping with the Hawaii eruption. Two of them recently flew to the Big Island to assist on the ground. About a year ago, KNKX went inside the observatory to find out what they do for our show Sound Effect. Given all the volcanic activity in Hawaii right now and the fact that this Friday is the 38th anniversary of Mount Saint Helens erupting, we thought you'd like a peek inside this observatory where all eyes and ears are on volcanos. 

Gexydaf / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/90821451@N00/5527708847/">Gexydaf</a> Flickr via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

The Federal Transit Administration has approved $75 million dollars for expansion of Tacoma’s Link Light Rail line.  

The money will be used to more than double the line, which currently runs from the Tacoma Dome to the Theater District downtown. The extension will connect it to a U-shaped route that heads first north to the Stadium District then back south into the Hilltop neighborhood.   

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A diverse array of groups from all over Washington State gathered in Seattle this week to rally support for Initiative 1631. That’s the latest proposal to curb carbon emissions by imposing fees on big polluters.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

People in the Pacific Northwest have been experiencing a bit of a roller coaster ride weather-wise lately, with temperatures spiking up and down in a manner that KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says is quite typical for late May. The ride will go uphill this weekend to a predicted high of about 80 degrees on Sunday, just in time for Mother’s Day.

“The weekend is going to be wonderful,” Mass says. The clouds will dissipate later in the afternoon Friday, he says, as temperatures climb to the upper 60s and high pressure builds. Mass says it will stick around for a while.

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