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

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

There’s a popular urban legend that a 600-pound octopus lives beneath the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Over the years, divers have alleged it dwells in the ruins of Galloping Gertie. Some speak of giant tentacles emerging from the depths.

There’s no proof to back up the stories, which have persisted much longer than the normal 4-year lifespan of a Pacific Octopus.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Get ready for temps in the 80s next week. That’s what KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says people in the Pacific Northwest can look forward to on Tuesday.

First, we have to get though more of the lovely cloudy weather that has been decorating the views in Cascadia.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Any sunshine seen early Friday was probably just a tantalizing taste of what won’t be the pattern for at least a week here in the Pacific Northwest, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass.

“We have a series of showers that are coming through [Friday morning],” said Mass who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

The lightning storm that hit the Seattle area Thursday afternoon and evening is over now, but it’s one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. The thunderclaps and light show electrified the skies and brought intense wind to the area.

About 14,000 people were without power Friday morning. But that wasn’t the amazing part to KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

Two recently designated national monuments in Washington state are among those vulnerable under an executive order from President Donald Trump. Locals in the San Juan Islands say they would be shocked to see the federal protection undone.  

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

The extraordinarily wet weather pattern we have seen so far this year is about to get a bit better. But first, people in the greater Seattle area have to get through one more rain event. That’s according to KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

“This has been the wettest winter season in Seattle history and that’s going back to 1895,” said Mass. That’s in terms of measuring the so-called “water year,” which is defined as the total precipitation from October to April.

Allen Pleus / Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Invasive green crabs are prolific all over the world. Officially called European green crabs, they are known for outcompeting native shellfish. On the East Coast of the U.S., they have been blamed for damaging shellfish harvests and decimating sea grass beds, which are critical habitat for juvenile salmon.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The King County Council has formally launched an investigation into what caused the catastrophic failure of its largest wastewater treatment facility in early February.

 

During the failure, about 30 million gallons of raw sewage flowed into Puget Sound. At 2 a.m. on February 9, catastrophic flooding shut down the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood.

 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

If you’ve been feeling like you can’t stand the rain lately, get outside on Friday. Rain is coming in on Saturday afternoon and it only gets wetter from there.  

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass is expecting “the mother of all atmospheric rivers” to hit southern Washington and Oregon pretty hard early next week. 

Image courtesy of Miles Greb

Seattle’s March for Science is expected to be the second largest one in the country, second only to Washington D.C. That’s according to the activists behind it.  

The event is coinciding with the annual Earth Day celebration, when people who care about the environment traditionally get out there to show their colors.

courtesy of city of Seattle

The city of Seattle has reached a settlement in one of two civil suits against homeowners in West Seattle, who allegedly hired people to illegally cut down about 150 trees on public land.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo/file

The Puyallup Tribe says it will not go along with plans to put a liquified natural gas facility on a site at the Port of Tacoma. The site is located on land that lies sandwiched between parcels on its reservation.  

The tribe says its biggest concern is that its reservation lies in an urban area. And the heart of that is the Port of Tacoma.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

If the cold, rainy weather has been getting you down, you’re not alone. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says this weekend, Seattle-area people will get a respite from all that.

“It’s going to be perfect for Easter egg hunting. It will be perfect for anything on Sunday;  Sunday’s going to be absolutely wonderful,” Mass said.

But he says people here will first have to get through a couple days of transition.

On Friday, cold and unstable air was over the region again, said Mass, who is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., left, talks with researchers Fahd Al Qureshah, right, and Nicole Arroyo, second from right, as she tours an immunology research lab at the University of Washington's UW Medicine South Lake Union Campus Wednesday, April 1
Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The Trump administration is proposing an almost 20 percent budget cut to the National Institutes of Health.

That’s according to U.S. Senator Patty Murray, who toured the immunology lab at UW Medicine in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood to put a spotlight on health research.

NOAA Fisheries

Passions run high on the issue of how to best protect resident killer whales in the waters off the San Juan Islands.

A public comment period on a proposal that could help them ends Thursday.

Orca whales communicate underwater with complex calls that researchers say are a language all their own. And they use echolocation to find their way around.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

Climate change is one of those issues that tends to turn people off. It’s not much fun to think about the consequences of the carbon pollution and the subsequent warming of the atmosphere. But Seattle Times Writer Lynda V. Mapes spent the better part of two years studying how it affected one tree while she was on a science fellowship in upstate New York.

Her book about that experience is called "Witness Tree: Seasons Of Change With A Century-Old Oak."

Lincoln Bormann / San Juan County Land Bank

When funds are tight, it might be tempting for government to try to raise taxes or fees. But what if you could just inspire people to opt in and pay extra to support something they love? That’s the idea behind a new campaign for a specialty license plate that would generate funds to support conservation lands in the San Juan Islands.

Courtesy of Cliff Mass Weather Blog

An unusually strong April storm is headed for the Pacific Northwest. A high wind advisory is in effect from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, with gusts of up to 60 mph expected in places, especially on the coast.

“This is probably the strongest April storm in the last half-century. So it’s that unusual,“ Mass said Friday morning as the storm was approaching.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

Port officials are looking to place 150 interns for private businesses in Seattle this summer.  First they have to get kids interested.

Two 16-year-olds named Tim Viel and Dupree Picket came from an alternative program in South Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood called Opportunity Skyway.  They tried operating the robotics on a manned submersible that can conduct underwater research or fix pipes and turn things underwater. The kids operated the vehicle’s arm with a joystick.     

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

A tiny twister appeared in the town of Monroe this week — nothing major, but enough to grab people’s attention. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s not unheard of around here. Property damage to a few RVs was the extent of the unfortunate event.

“We do get tornadoes around here occasionally, but it’s pretty infrequent,” Mass said.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass is planning to get out into the garden this weekend. He says there should be enough sunshine, intermittently on Saturday, and also Sunday morning. And he says it will be warm enough for sure.

So if you’re outside, be prepared for wet, but don’t worry about getting too cold. The spring equinox has passed and that means the days are getting longer and the sun is stronger. So temperatures will be mild.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX Pacific Public Media

Dramatic cuts proposed for the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency could hit home in the Puget Sound region.

The Region 10 office here, which covers ecosystems in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, employs more than 500 people.

In turn, many smaller firms around the Seattle area and beyond help write documents such as environmental impact statements to support EPA policies that many people fear could be wiped out by the Trump administration.

Credit Kevin Kniestedt

More than 23,000 people lost their lives following the 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia. In response, the United States Geological Survey and the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance created the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, to help prevent other volcanic eruptions from becoming disasters.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The sun broke through on Thursday this week, providing a much-needed respite from a string of wet days that has many Northwesterners longing for blue skies. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says he’s ready for more sun too. But he says this weekend will be a mixed bag.

“About 50-50,” Mass said is the ratio of rain to sun he expects in the days ahead. He says another frontal system was moving into the region Friday morning and a mini-atmospheric river aimed right at us.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Temporary fans and sump-pump hoses are whirring along inside the West Point Treatment plant. It’s still dark inside the tunnels where on February 9, a flood of sewage busted doors off and submerged everything up to 12-feet high.

Where we’re standing, we would have been underwater.  Plant manager Robert Waddle switches on a flashlight to show me around.

Ned Ahrens / King County Wastewater Treatment Division

The breakdown last month of Seattle’s wastewater treatment plant has poured hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated stormwater and raw sewage into Puget Sound. Repairs alone will cost an estimated $25 million. And it’s expected to take till the end of April to get the West Point Treatment Plant back to normal. Until then, the broken wastewater facility will be violating its permit and polluting Puget Sound.

COURTESY OF KING COUNTY WASTEWATER DIVISION

What caused the catastrophic failure of Seattle’s main wastewater treatment plant and how can the public be sure it won’t happen again?

King County Council members took emergency action Monday to ensure there’s a fully independent investigation.  

More Than Stormy Weather

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

After a very windy morning that took out power for about 4,000 people around the Puget Sound region, the strong wind is now moving into British Columbia. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says most of the blowing is done in Washington, yielding to a showery Friday with much warmer temperatures.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

AquAdvantage salmon were the first genetically engineered animal product meant for human consumption to be approved by the FDA. It combines the genetic material of Chinook and Atlantic salmon with eelpout to make it grow nearly twice as fast as its conventionally farmed counterparts.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo / file

The recent settlement of a lawsuit alleging that coal trains are polluting waterways in Washington and Oregon secured $1 million for mitigation projects.  BNSF has also agreed to pay for cleanup of spilled coal in five sites along the Columbia River Gorge.

Pages