Deadliest force: Reseachers hope to improve avalanche-risk awareness with network of snowfall measuring devices

Deadliest force: Reseachers hope to improve avalanche-risk awareness with network of snowfall measuring devices

You might think polar bears – and the potential for attack – are the biggest danger the Norwegian island archipelago of Svalbard. But avalanches kill far more people on Svalbard than polar More »

Random weirdness for the week of Feb 28, 2017

Random weirdness for the week of Feb 28, 2017

To the many in Longyearbyen who suddenly have no address, a Very Special Letter arrived a few days ago. Actually, it’s to the “people of Longyearbyen,” but they wouldn’t have gotten it More »

Chilling conclusion: UNIS says faulty boat, last-second travel plans and safety training factors in manfunction at sea malfunction

Chilling conclusion: UNIS says faulty boat, last-second travel plans and safety training factors in manfunction at sea malfunction

A boat with a weak design, last-minute travel plan changes and a lack of proper safety training resulted in a dozen people being stranded and soaked on the icy sea between Barentsburg More »

Flake media: ‘Scientists Add 50,000 Seeds to Arctic Doomsday Vault Because Everything Is Awful’

Flake media: ‘Scientists Add 50,000 Seeds to Arctic Doomsday Vault Because Everything Is Awful’

The eyes of the world – or at least the press – were on Svalbard last week. But it was future destruction, not the avalanche that destroyed homes and the psyche of More »

ALERT: Two avalanches occur near Longyearbyen, officials say nobody trapped

ALERT: Two avalanches occur near Longyearbyen, officials say nobody trapped

A large avalanche early Sunday afternoon blocked a snowmobile trail on Hiorthfjellet across from Longyearbyen, but emergency officials said nobody was caught in it. A second subsequent avalanche in the area soon after also More »

 

Deadliest force: Reseachers hope to improve avalanche-risk awareness with network of snowfall measuring devices

snow1

You might think polar bears – and the potential for attack – are the biggest danger the Norwegian island archipelago of Svalbard. But avalanches kill far more people on Svalbard than polar bears ever have.

Random weirdness for the week of Feb 28, 2017

drawing

To the many in Longyearbyen who suddenly have no address, a Very Special Letter arrived a few days ago. Actually, it’s to the “people of Longyearbyen,” but they wouldn’t have gotten it if not for some persistence by the sender and local postal officials since it was mailed to our editor who’s among those evacuated (not the first time we’ve made that inside journalism joke this week) after Tuesday’s avalanche.

Chilling conclusion: UNIS says faulty boat, last-second travel plans and safety training factors in manfunction at sea malfunction

unispolaris

A boat with a weak design, last-minute travel plan changes and a lack of proper safety training resulted in a dozen people being stranded and soaked on the icy sea between Barentsburg and Longyearbyen last month, according to an internal investigation by The University Centre in Svalbard.

Flake media: ‘Scientists Add 50,000 Seeds to Arctic Doomsday Vault Because Everything Is Awful’

seeddeposit

The eyes of the world – or at least the press – were on Svalbard last week. But it was future destruction, not the avalanche that destroyed homes and the psyche of residents, that generated headlines.

And most of the lamestream media buried the most interesting aspect of that “other” story.

ALERT: Two avalanches occur near Longyearbyen, officials say nobody trapped

avalancheskitrail

A large avalanche early Sunday afternoon blocked a snowmobile trail on Hiorthfjellet across from Longyearbyen, but emergency officials said nobody was caught in it. A second subsequent avalanche in the area soon after also apparently trapped no people.

Quest for the top: Denied chance to seek the North Pole, French explorer is going after Norway’s government for stopping him

boatview

Gilles Elkaim’s latest dream is an epic quest to the North Pole in the spirit of Fridtjof Nansen. But the longtime French explorer’s free-thinking ways are considered a crime in Svalbard, so he’s following in the footsteps of the historic Norwegian explorer in another way: waging a very public war on what he calls cruel government repression.

Wasted on cracks: One year after hasty evacuation of Gamle Sykehuset evacuees’ hopes crumbing with the building

gamleback2

(Author’s note: I planned to write a “straight” news article about last year’s sudden and drastic evacuation of Gamle Sykehuset, but this week’s avalanche and my once again going through what I did in that building sort of screwed that up. These are my thoughts as one of the evacuees a year later supplemented with factual updates from Svalbardposten, which did exceptional coverage despite being swamped with the avalanche. You’ll have to buy a 30-kroner daypass to read it, but since I’m quoting it I obviously consider it worthy.)

A year after being hastily forced out of my home permanently for the first time, only one thing is certain: the living room of the flat I was in must be pretty drafty during storms these days.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Evacuees allowed into homes from 3-6 p.m. Friday, noon-3 p.m. Saturday; more chances to come

move222

People living in residents still evacuated after Tuesday’s avalanche will be allowed into their homes to retrieve belongings from 3-6 p.m. Friday and noon-3 p.m. Saturday, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

There will be more chances to enter residences at times to be announced. The long-term forecast for Longyearbyen calls for temperatures well below zero degrees Celsius and no precipitation through next Saturday.

Rant: You may want to go home – for maybe the last time ever. The Sequel (20 minutes in a freezing hell with little left to lose)

moveout17

This time, almost exactly a year to the day later, there was no forewarning it might happen. Instead of two hours, I had 20 minutes. There was no calvary bringing vehicles – indeed, there were no cars at all because I had no idea where mine was.

And it wasn’t a pivotal moment on a worldwide reality TV show – or even covered by the local media. Good thing, because as the picture indicates, I look a whole lot worse for wear this year.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Evacuees allowed to collect belongings from 3-6 p.m. Thursday as city grapples with housing solution

avaamchemtg2

Residents of 55 evacuated apartments and houses who suddenly found themselves homeless for the long-term Wednesday night will be allowed back into their homes between 3 and 6 p.m. to retrieve belongings, according to The Governor of Svalbard. There will also be additional opportunities at a time to be determined.

The question for many is where they’ll be moving those belongings to.