Governor issues travel warning after avalanche near Longyearbyen; heavy snow forecast through Tuesday


An avalanche triggered by heavy snow this weekend forced the temporary closure of a popular snowmobile trail on a glacier just south of Longyearbyen and The Governor of Svalbard said the risk of snowslides in the mountains remains high with more snow forecast through Tuesday.

The avalanche on Longyearbreen occurred at about 1:50 p.m. Sunday. Emergency workers with various agencies, who were participating in a simulated avalanche rescue in Todalen at the time, responded to the real avalanche to see if anybody aaas trapped.

“There is nothing to suggest anyone was caught in the avalanche,” Police Chief Lt. Ole Jakob Malmo told Svalbardposten.

The snowmobile trail on Longyearbreen was closed until 4 p.m. But The Norwegian Avalanche Center is classifying the local avalanche risk as Level Three (considerable) through at least Wednesday due to “locally unstable conditions due to wind slabs in lee areas. A weak layer of facets may also be triggered where the snow cover is thin.”

“The governor urges people to take precautions and be extremely cautious traffic out in the terrain,” a notice lifting the closure from the governor’s office stated. “There is still considerable avalanche danger.”

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute is forecasting between five to 11 millimeters of precipitation Monday night and Tuesday, most of it falling by noon, with temperatures minus five to minus 14 degrees. Winds gusting to 65 kilometers an hour are also forecast between midnight and noon Tuesday.