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

Showers are in the forecast for Western Washington this weekend. But knkx weather expert Cliff Mass says the relatively minor precipitation expected marks a break in what has been a remarkably rainy October so far.

“I should stress how wet it has been.  The last two weeks have been extraordinary,” he said. “A number of places in the lowlands have gotten five to six inches – some more – and the mountains have gotten hit by five to 10 inches. You know, a lot of rain!”

Mass says this means there is a chance Seattle will break the all-time record for October rain: 8.96 inches.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

Efforts to restore and protect Puget Sound are getting a big boost from the Obama administration.  

Local advocates for that work have long argued that, as one of the nation’s largest and most iconic estuaries, Puget Sound is a national treasure and deserves protections on par with Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes.

Now a federal task force has formed to prioritize the pressing need for salmon restoration in the Sound, due in large part to what officials say is a steadfast commitment to local tribes’ treaty fishing rights.

Courtesy of Tim Durkan

Wet, stormy weather pounded Western Washington Friday morning, with heavy rain and winds gusting from 20- 30 mph in the Puget Sound region, taking out power for several thousand residents, especially along the coast. Oregon was hit even harder.  

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Very stormy weather is on its way to Western Washington. Forecasters have issued a high wind warning starting Thursday evening at 6 p.m., through Friday morning at 7. That means there could be gusts of up to 55 miles per hour and there will be several inches of rain, especially in the mountains.

courtesy Ted Griffin and Jason Colby

These days, the prospect of seeing the Pacific Northwest’s iconic orca whales in the wild attracts thousands of tourists annually to whale-watching boats or shore-side excursions.  But it wasn’t that long ago that these majestic endangered creatures were seen as a menace.

courtesy Woodland Park Zoo

The U.S. State Department is looking to an unlikely source for help in its efforts to combat international wildlife trafficking: a hackathon at the Woodland Park Zoo this weekend.  

Woodland Park is one of six zoos around the world simultaneously hosting the so-called “Zoohackathons.” About 60 Seattle-area techies have signed up to spend 22 hours Saturday and Sunday creating an app, software program or other tool to help in the fight against wildlife trafficking.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

As Hurricane Matthew bore down on the East Coast, the first major storm of the season was hitting Western Washington. They’re not connected meteorologically, but knkx weather commentator Cliff Mass says the weather here was still quite intense on Thursday night and more will be coming in this weekend.

AP Photo / Elaine Thompson

The Shell Oil Company has pulled the plug on its plan to add an oil train facility to its Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes. The company says global economic conditions no longer support the cost for the new equipment to unload and process Bakken crude from the Midwest. They had argued they needed oil trains to remain competitive with other refineries in the area that all take in oil by rail. 

NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center via AP, File

Federal biologists have indefinitely suspended a satellite tagging program to track endangered orca whales. The move comes after an expert panel concluded a fungal infection contributed to the death of a 20-year-old member of the L pod.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

It’s often said that one of the most pressing issues of our time is climate change. Yet, even after years of discussion, Washington state still lacks a policy to limit the pollution that causes it. A recent clean air rule announced by the state Department of Ecology is not yet in effect and is already the subject of multiple lawsuits. So, despite its reputation as an environmentally progressive Ecotopia, the Evergreen State is left without a mechanism to reign in carbon emissions.

sea turtle / Flickr via Compfight

If sunshine is your thing, you’ll want to get out in it on Friday, says knkx weather expert Cliff Mass. A wet period is ahead. But he says the downhill trend won't start till Saturday.  

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 /

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,

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.