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

Craig Staude / courtesy Washington Sea Grant

Researchers from the Washington Sea Grant confirm that a crab found by staff of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is in fact one of the much dreaded invasive species. This is after one was trapped in San Juan Island’s Westcott Bay in late August.

Glen Alexander, the  Education Coordinator at the Padilla Bay Reserve, says he wasn’t really surprised when he found it, but it’s scary.

Ted S. Warren / AP photo

Fall got off to a damp and cloudy start in the Pacific Northwest on Friday. But knkx weather expert Cliff Mass says he expects “a nice fall weekend” ahead with plenty of sun, warming temps and an especially sunny flourish on Monday.

Mass says a weak Pacific front was moving in Friday morning “and it’s kind of getting split apart, so we’ll have clouds over most of the region, showers along the coast, in the Cascades and in the South Sound, but only a few sprinkles around Puget Sound because we’ll be somewhat rain shadowed by the Olympics.”

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands presides over more than five and a half million acres of state forests and aquatic lands. It’s an open seat in the upcoming 2016 election, since incumbent Peter Goldmark announced his decision not to run for a third term. One of the top priorities of the office is the constitutional mandate to fund schools through logging. But conservation is also part of it.

Washington Environmental Council

The intersection of race and the environment is the focus this week of two community conversations taking place in Seattle. The public meetups are a first for members of the mainstream Washington Environmental Council and its partner, Washington Conservation Voters.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Enjoy one last day of summer-like weather in the Puget Sound region on Friday, but brace yourselves for a big change on Saturday. Knkx weather expert Cliff Mass says the wettest weekend of the summer is on its way. And it will remain rainy and cool for the foreseeable future.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It’s been eight years in the making, but Washington state finally has a rule that places limits on carbon pollution from its largest sources. It comes in response to reduction targets on greenhouse gas emissions first called for by the Legislature in 2008. That law called for limits that would get the state back down to 1990 levels by 2020, to 25 percent below the 1990 level by 2025 and 50 percent below it by 2050.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River has long been thought to have huge potential as a recreational area, less than an hour from Seattle. It’s at the heart of roughly 1.5 million acres of open space in the Mountains to Sound Greenway along I-90. But for decades, the valley was so trashed that even local law enforcement considered it dangerous.

That’s changing, now that a new paved road into the area is nearing completion.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

This week, scientists are scouring shoreline habitat near Westcott Bay on San Juan Island, hunting for green crabs. The Washington Sea Grant Crab Team, with help from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, will set dozens of traps in an effort to learn more about the population of the invasive species. 

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

School may have started for most kids in the Northwest, but the clear skies and warmth of late summer are still in play. Expect mostly sunny and dry conditions for most of this weekend, says knkx weather expert Cliff Mass.

And then it gets even better as we enter next week.

“The weekend will have a little bit of clouds, but next weekend should be really very nice,” Mass said.

Clear Skies Friday Afternoon

On Friday, he says temperatures will get up into the lower- to mid-70s, with some clouds in the morning, but those will mainly burn off. 

The Washington kids who filed suit against the state Department of Ecology to get tougher limits on carbon pollution say current policies don’t go far enough. Together with their backers, they’ve unveiled more aggressive legislation they say would protect their constitutional right to clean air.  

Andrew Constantino / SHARE

Two homeless encampments set up outside government buildings in Seattle are shutting down as a network of indoor shelters reopens. Advocates say their protest camps convinced King County and others to reinstate funding so they can move back inside.

Five months ago, the Seattle Housing and Resource Effort, a non-profit known as SHARE, set up tents on the plaza of the King County Administration Building and then outside another county building two blocks away.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A line of convection brought rain into greater Seattle Friday morning, but knkx weather expert Cliff Mass says that should be the worst of it over the long holiday weekend for most places around Puget Sound.

“We’ll see just showers most of the day, except in northern Puget Sound,” Mass said, noting that he expects a Puget Sound convergence zone to form late in the day, bringing some heavier showers from North Seattle up to Everett.

Hamilton McCulloh / greenrubino.com

One of the promises of legalized marijuana was keeping it healthier through regulations. But some still worry about pesticides in pot products. King County is considering an ordinance that would implement spot checks on marijuana retailers, much like inspections in the restaurant industry.

The state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board has a long list of chemicals that are approved as pesticides for marijuana. Despite that, King County health officials recently acknowledged finding high levels of banned pesticides in some products.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

A 22-foot-long totem pole carved by members of the Lummi Nation is making its way from Bellingham, traveling 5,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada. The colorful sculpture is the focal point for a tribal journey meant to unify native people with their allies in the fight against increased fossil fuel exports.

On a recent stop in Seattle, supporters filled the steps of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, as tribal members burned sage, drummed and chanted in a traditional smudging ceremony.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

If you like the sunshine and heat, get out there and enjoy it on Friday. A heat advisory is in effect through the evening, with highs expected in the mid-80s to low 90s. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a cool down is coming, likely marking the start of a big transition to cooler conditions as summer in the Northwest begins to wane.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

An excessive heat warning has been in effect since Thursday this of week and temperatures are expected to hit the 90s  in places around the Puget Sound region through Saturday.

It will be sunny and hot all weekend long. And the heat wave comes as no real surprise; This is typical weather around here for August, when we expect our hottest temperatures of the year.

But why now?  Shouldn’t it be in June, when the sun is strongest?

Mark Musick / King Conservation District

Communities around Puget Sound have invested about $150 million over the past two decades to clean up the water and improve habitat for endangered salmon. Yet we continue to lose ground when it comes to a crucial part of that environment. King County watershed managers recently hosted a guided boat tour to spread the word about the importance of restoration work in recovering the so-called ‘nearshore.’                                         

Patrick / Flickr via Compfight

It’s hard not to gloat about Northwest weather in a week like this one. And KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says the glory of blue skies and warm but comfortable temperatures is set to continue for most of the coming weekend.

“We’re stuck in this pattern of near perfection of weather,” Mass joked. “We’re in the 70s and low 80s and dry conditions while the rest of the country’s in heat and humidity and thunderstorms. So we can’t complain,” he said.

Warmest On Friday

Debbie Miller / USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

August is the peak time of year to find aggressive wood-boring insects that lay their eggs beneath tree bark. Early detection can prevent pests from laying waste to forests and urban tree canopy. That’s why state agencies are asking residents to check their yards for harmful pests this month.

The USDA has dubbed August national Tree Check Month and they’re asking people to take ten minutes to look for signs of trouble.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Seattle’s Seward Park is located in one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse zip codes. It’s also home to one of the city’s chapters of the Audubon Society and is part of the national conservation organization’s push to build a constituency that is “as diverse as nature.”  So what’s Seward Park Audubon’s summer camp like? KPLU environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp met with Audubon Center Director Joey Manson to learn more.

Aaron Barna / USFWS - Pacific Region

When the marbled murrelet was first listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1992, so little was known about the elusive sea bird that the state postponed finalizing its long-term habitat conservation plan, opting instead for interim strategies until more scientific research could inform the best strategies.

YouTube

The Pacific Northwest is known as a Mecca for bird watchers. Diverse habitats offer shelter for hundreds of species throughout the state. In summer, urban parks offer viewing of everything from osprey and bald eagles to chickadees and warblers, hummingbirds, owls and woodpeckers.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The first weekend in August is statistically one of the driest and warmest weekends in the Pacific Northwest. It also marks the height of outdoor summer fun in Seattle as Seafair’s hydroplane races hit the water and the Blue Angels show off their daredevil moves in the skies above.  

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says this year’s Seafair Weekend forecast is for cooler than normal weather and even some rain.

“But the rain’s going to hold off till the end of Sunday, so I think most activities will be fine,” Mass said.

Tali Arbel, File / AP Photo

A pattern of illegally deceiving all its Washington state customers – that’s what cable provider Comcast is accused of in a $100-million lawsuit filed Monday in King County Superior Court by the state Attorney General’s office.  

In its complaint, the state says Comcast violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act more than 1.8 million times, through unfair and deceptive practices.

Cromely / Flickr via Compfight

Have you ever noticed that oftentimes on summer afternoons, big clouds seem to form right over the Cascades or the Olympics, almost like the mountains have their own weather systems? They do.

“It’s true,” says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“Many summer afternoons, we see puffy cumulus clouds starting to form over the upper slopes of the Cascades. And they increase in width and height during the afternoon and quite frequently you have a few showers there – even some lightning,” he said.  “And so that’s real, we see it over the Cascades, we see it over the Olympics.”

C. Brown/COASST

Marine scientists are on alert as hundreds of seabirds have been washing up dead on local beaches.  Since May, the bodies of more than 300 rhinoceros auklets have been collected around the eastern side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  

Washington’s Protection Island Wildlife Refuge, near Port Townsend, is home to one of the world’s largest known colonies of the puffin-like bird, which is named for its unique appearance.

courtesy Mark Durall

There’s just one week left for the public to comment on preferred alternatives for completion of the missing link in Seattle’s Burke Gilman Trail. The nearly 20-mile trail extends from Ballard to Bothell and is one of the region’s most popular bike routes.

sea turtle / Flickr via Compfight

“Liquid sunshine” made an ample appearance as the Northwest weekend got off to a wet and cloudy start. But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass promises warmer temps and clearer skies as the weekend progresses. In fact, he says we’re headed into what is usually one of the nicest times of year and he expects it won’t disappoint.

“We’re about to go into an extended dry spell,” Mass said.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Boats will soon be forbidden from releasing sewage anywhere in Puget Sound if the state Department of Ecology has its way. The agency is seeking federal protection, asking the EPA to declare the Sound a “no discharge zone” for vessel sewage.  

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

The Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes is among six in the nation that will receive new equipment to reduce toxic air pollution. It’s part of a $425 million settlement for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.  The U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the deal in Seattle, calling it the largest settlement to date of its kind.

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