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 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

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Temperatures around the Puget Sound region were shooting up Friday into the mid-to-upper 70s, after an already warm week. And the forecast for Mother’s Day weekend promises temperatures in the low 80s. It almost feels like summer.

But KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says this kind of heat wave in mid- to late May is not that unusual for the region.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

With unemployment rates soaring, the state Legislature has just extended a moratorium on utility shut-offs for non-payment, through the end of this month. A coalition of environmental, labor and social justice groups say it’s not enough.  

Paula Frier / The Associated Press

Most state public lands will reopen Tuesday as Gov. Jay Inslee’s order to ease restrictions on outdoor recreation takes effect. But not Washington’s coastal beaches.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

As May begins, the weather continues to offer that typical grab bag of conditions that is typical for spring in the Northwest: plenty of clouds, along with showers, sunbreaks, even possible thunderstorms. And often, forecasts predict the probability of these phenomena: a 10 percent chance of rain, say — or 50 percent chance.

That sounds plausible, but it turns out most people don’t know what that actually means.

Emergency food boxes are filled by members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard at the Regional Food Bank Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki / The Associated Press

The WA Food Fund is facing an uphill battle, as it nears its deadline to raise millions of dollars for food relief. Gov. Jay Inslee launched the effort in early April to raise money to fight hunger caused by the novel coronavirus.

Seattle City Light is going through a detailed federal process over the next five years, to meet regulations to keep operating the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.
Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Seattle City Light has started the process of relicensing three large dams in the North Cascades that supply the utility with about a third of its power.  

The utility will go through a detailed federal process over the next five years, to meet regulations to keep operating the 100-year-old Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. The current license was enacted in 1995 and expires on April 30, 2025.

Deception Pass State Park
Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee has turned his proverbial dial another notch toward normal. The governor announced Monday afternoon that some recreation may resume across Washington state, including hunting, fishing and golfing. 

“Reconnecting people to nature is the first step in the journey back to normalcy,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. She joined the governor and other state leaders for Monday’s announcement, the latest development in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeanne Clark / Courtesy of SDOT

At the same time that the City of Seattle has been keeping some parks closed because of concerns about COVID-19, it has opened up certain neighborhood streets for pedestrians, cyclists and skaters to get out more and move.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

After a pretty long dry spell, April showers have returned to the Puget Sound region. We’ve entered a typical phase of showers and sun breaks, with lots of instability in the atmosphere that produces dramatic clouds with light blazing through them. 

People wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walk past a mural of the world in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
Matt Rourke / The Associated Press

Washington’s broadest coalition of climate activists is using the 50th anniversary of Earth Day to call for a just recovery from COVID-19.

Tacoma's controversial liquefied natural gas facility is among the projects that could be affected by the drop in prices for fossil fuels.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The impact of the new coronavirus on the global economy has caused prices for fossil fuels to plummet. As everything has slowed down, demand has shrunk to just a fraction of what it was before governments told people to stay home to slow the spread of disease.

Anne Philips at the social distancing dance party outside her house in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood on March 21, 2020.
Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

You may have heard of the “Seattle Freeze.” It’s a tendency some people say longtime locals have to be cold toward newcomers. And many say the social-distancing measures now necessary because of the coronavirus are making it worse. Out in public, people seem scared to make eye contact with strangers.

A pair of women in one of the city’s neighborhoods recently put on an event designed to warm things up a bit — despite the need to stay at least 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with.

Visitors view a widened passage for salmon to swim up the Middle Fork of the Newaukum River under Middle Fork Road near Chehalis, Wash., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 — an example of restoration work the Quinault say would be undermined by the proposed dam.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

“Extinction is not an option.”

That’s the headline on a statement released Thursday by the Quinault Indian Nation, as the tribe formally announced its opposition to a proposed dam on the upper Chehalis River. 

A view of Pike Place Market with Seattle's Elliott Bay on April 15, 2020.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Maybe you felt a spark as you walked over carpeting and touched a doorknob. Or perhaps you noted how arid the soil was when you went out to do some gardening. These are signs of low relative humidity in the air. And Western Washington has experienced extreme levels of it — on several days this past month.

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s been so dry, he coined a new term for it: "dry storm."

To meet the growing need for emergency food services amid the pandemic, the National Guard has helped Northwest Harvest fill boxes to distribute to people in need. Troops are expected to help at a new Food Lifeline warehouse in SoDo, which opens Monday.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Demand at food banks has already doubled as more people face unemployment in the region or need more meals at home because schools are closed. And the demand is expected to continue climbing.

That has put additional strain on the organizations supplying food banks, as they respond to new conditions amid the coronavirus.

In this file photo, taken Monday, Dec. 22, 2014, garbage collector Anousone Sadettanh reaches for a small residential garbage bin tucked between larger yard waste and recycling bins as he works his pickup route, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

The stay-at-home order means most of us are safe indoors, where we’re generating a lot more trash and recycling. This increase in residential waste is something Tiffany "TJ" Burger has experienced up close. She drives a recycling truck for Waste Management in Seattle.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography


It’s been warm and sunny lately with clear blue skies and great visibility in the Pacific Northwest — ideal for seeing for events like the supermoon Tuesday night. 

 

Contrast that with Southern California, where a pattern of rain and snow in the mountains has locked in, providing much-needed water for reservoirs, but dampening spirits for some who live there.

This contrast is due to a configuration in the atmosphere called a blocking effect, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass. 

 Food Lifeline Hunger Solution Center warehouse in Seattle's South Park neighborhood. Staff are prototyping emergency food boxes that will soon be the primary means for donated food distribution statewide.
Aaron Czyzewski / Food Lifeline

An estimated 1.6 million people are expected to turn to Washington's food banks by the end of this week, to keep from going hungry. That’s about twice as many as normal. Federal aid to address that new need is not expected to be available until July.

So, the state is asking for help raising about $13 million dollars — to keep the shelves stocked and people from going hungry, despite the challenges created by the new coronavirus.

Among the crops at risk are Washington's renowned apples. Some of the crop is dumped when labor shortages prevail.
Shannon Dininny / The Associated Press (file)

Farmworkers are considered an essential part of the food supply system, so they have to stay on the job, even under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.

But many of the people who work the fields or ranches here lack sufficient protection to keep them safe from the coronavirus. Human rights advocates say that needs to change immediately.

Seattle Indian Health Board opened a new COVID19 testing site Thursday at Chief Seattle Club! "This is our testing team! This is what #dreamteam looks like!" wrote Esther Lucero, chief executive officer of the Seattle Indian Health Board on Facebook.
Courtesy of Esther Lucero

After weeks of waiting for a response from the federal government, the Seattle Indian Health Board says it finally received a shipment of personal protective equipment — from a small business.

Like most companies these days, Eighth Generation has had to cut back and cancel many orders because of the coronavirus. But that didn’t stop the retail company from messaging Esther Lucero two weeks ago. The founder and CEO, Louie Gong, told her he wanted to leverage his contacts with manufacturers overseas to help get the agency critical supplies of personal protective gear. 

Seattle's skyline, as seen on March 29, 2020.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

If you’ve been feeling chilly lately, you are not alone. Lots of people may have noticed on walks around their neighborhoods that spring this year has been colder than usual. And in fact, now that March is over, statistics show the month has been colder on average than January.

A typical scene from a Seattle farmers market, long before the advent of the new coronavirus.
Courtesy of Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets

Farmers markets and their supporters in Seattle are submitting more than 1,500 signatures to Mayor Jenny Durkan, asking to be considered essential businesses the same way grocery stores are — which would give them the green light to reopen.

Seattle shut them down on March 13, amid the wave of widespread closures in response to the novel coronavirus. The markets were subject to the ban because they are classified similar to parades or street fairs.

The decline in commercial aircraft traffic due to the new coronavirus will degrade weather forecasting, says Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the Univeristy of Washington.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Sprinkles and showers are in the forecast for most of Western Washington this weekend, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees. It’s perfect weather for gardening or maybe taking a long run or walk in your neighborhood. The skies above likely will be quieter, too.

The spread of the new coronavirus already has slowed air traffic aloft. An even more dramatic decline in commercial flight schedules is coming soon. And that could affect weather forecasting.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The state Department of Natural Resources is closing all DNR-managed lands to public recreation. The closure goes into effect Thursday and will last through at least April 8. It’s an additional step in government efforts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

In this file photo taken April 27, 2009, Latino workers till an asparagus field near Toppenish, Wash., on the Yakama Indian Reservation.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press (file)

Amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus, panic buying in grocery stores has left empty shelves where you’d normally find toilet paper. And the company that owns local Albertsons and Safeway stores has added extra shifts at its bread factory in Oregon, to keep up with surging demand in the Northwest. Some items that take longer to produce, such as chicken, have become scarce in places, with stores offering frozen turkey as a substitute.

So, what about fresh fruits and vegetables?

A Seattle Sunset as seen on March 18, 2020.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

The official start of spring comes a little early this year, in tandem with the vernal equinox that showed up in most U.S. calendars on March 19. Although meteorological spring began in the Pacific Northwest about a month ago with signs of warmer weather, KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says around now is when certain typical features of spring become evident.

Wearing a mask for protection, Henry Powell, heads to his car after shopping at a Safeway store in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 19. Safeway is among the stores that are offering special shopping hours for seniors amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Rich Pedroncelli / The Associated Press

All Safeway, Albertsons and Haggen grocery stores in the state are setting aside special shopping hours for elderly customers and others who are more vulnerable to the new coronavirus. The hours are from 7-9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning March 19. 

Customers sit in a dining area of Cafe Cosmos in downtown Seattle, Sunday, March 15, 2020. Gov. Jay Inslee said Suday night that he would order all bars, restaurants, entertainment and recreation facilities closed for 2 weeks.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The governor’s order to shut down all bars and restaurants or convert to take-out only by midnight Tuesday did not come as a surprise to Leigh Henderson. The owner of Alexa’s Café and Catering has been running her business on Main Street in Bothell for more than 25 years. On weekends, the line for breakfast regularly extends out the door and down the block.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The end of this year’s legislative session has been overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak. The session started with high hopes for new state policies to reduce climate warming greenhouse gas pollution, stoked by youth climate strikes as well as cities and the Puyallup Tribe declaring climate emergencies.

Mount Rainier showing off March 8, with some lenticular cloud action.
Tim Durkan / Time Durkan Photography

Mount Rainier looms on horizons in the region like no other, dominating views when visible – or “out” as locals like to say. This massive 14,000-foot peak is an active volcano that inspires awe in visitors to the region and stands as one of our most recognizable icons.

It also has a profound effect on the weather around it – because of its size.

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