A NEW RECORD HIGH – AND IT’S NOT OVER YET: Longyearbyen hits 21.7C Saturday evening, topping previous all-time temperature of 21.3C set in 1979; high of 22C forecast Monday

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It was just a brief peak that didn’t quite reach the predicted mark of 22 degrees Celsius, but Longyearbyen set an all-time high temperature in recorded history Saturday by peaking at 21.7 degrees between 5 and 6 p.m., topping the previous record of 21.3 degrees set in July of 1979.

But the town will quickly get a chance to set a new record, since a heat wave is now expected to linger longer than originally forecast and hit the 22-degree mark on Monday, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

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Longyearbyen residents gather on the beach for a Thai-themed cookout as a new high-temperature record is set Saturday evening. Photo by Louis Hiawatha Nielsen.

The record measured at Svalbard Airport is also only the second time the 20-degree mark has been topped. Ironically, but not surprising scientifically, the local heat wave comes as mainland Norway is experiencing an unusually cold July, which is helping push the warmer air north. Warm air from the east is also largely responsible.

Photos of beach cookouts and sunbathers, hikers seeking slightly cooler experiences on mountain/glacier tops and folks in town getting scorched under the 24-hour glare of sun were rampant at traditional and social media sites. For tourists spending the day here, the unexpected temperature spike was both a (mostly pleasant) shock and something they didn’t plan for.

“We were not prepared at all,” Stine Valde, 23, visiting with two female friends, told Verdens Gang. “We have packed a lot of wool clothes with us

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The forecast for Longyearbyen predicts another record high Monday. Chart by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

“Here people are lie on the beach and sunbathing. It is very fun.”

The original forecast this weekend called for record temperatures to last a few hours Saturday, then rapidly decline early Sunday morning to about 10 degrees by 8 a.m. But the updated forecast calls for temperatures to remain near 20 degrees much of Sunday, drop slightly early Monday, and then soar again to a new record by early evening.

After that things will indeed quickly cool down starting Tuesday – honest, according to the weather service.

  • Mad Musicologist

    The emoji to express my feelings about this event is missing. It would have to be “sorrowful”.
    I hope, we will not witness too many landslides when the permafrost soil in higher regions will thaw now.
    I also cannot imagine what impact those high temperatures will have on the local biosphere, with respect to flora, fauna, and microbiological processes which might go on at unprecedented speed during this heat wave.
    And visitors will be wise to strictly avoid any littering, even if it’s biologically degradable.