Category Archives: Svalbard

Deadly European snowpocalypse, Russian GPS jamming, oil drilling fiascos – here’s how Svalbard’s non-disaster storm made disaster news elsewhere

snowpocalypse

It wasn’t just locals blowing it when it came to worries about last wind’s wind storm. It somehow showed up in global stories about storms in Europe that killed at least 26 people, fears about Mother Nature’s wrath as Norway’s government strives for “peak oil” in a few years and Russia allegedly jamming crucial GPS signals during the storm.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Jan. 15, 2019

newwarehouse

Owner still hoping for alternative heating in new building despite city mandate
A new office/warehouse building in the seaside area of Longyearbyen that hoped to implement an alternative environmentally friendly heating is being told it must still hook up to the city’s central heating system at a cost of 150,000 kroner – but the owners said they still plan to follow through on their intentions.

Random weirdness for the week of Jan. 15, 2019

bearnuke

“Polar bear leaps onto a Russian nuclear submarine on the search for food after the crew dumped bags of rubbish into the Arctic.” And with that headline we’re off and running with an item that’s a perfect polar trifecta of weirdness.

Diesel successfully removed from stranded trawler; first-ever operation under harsh conditions goes faster than expected

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Workers fearing they were in for a long and difficult ordeal have removed 322,000 liters of diesel from a trawler that was stranded in the northernmost part of Svalbard in what officials call an unprecedented operation in harsh weather and total darkness on a jagged icy island coastline.

Wind wimps? We survived the great gale of ’19 – or are we a bunch of weather weakings scorned by sturdy old-timers?

survivestorm

We escaped the howler unscathed. The howling, not so much.

Red-alert avalanche maps, headlines hollering about hurricanes and fears of fast flying objects sent Longyearbyen citizens scrambling for shelter while there was literally no wind at the miner’s statute in the town square at noon Thursday. And folks waited…and waited…for the big bad winds to blow their (or somebody’s) house down.

ALERT: Evacuation order lifted for Lia, Nybyen at 3 p.m. Friday as storm passes without avalanches or significant incidents in Longyearbyen

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The storm wasn’t as long or bad as predicted, and the same is now true for an evacuation order imposed early Thursday and expected to last until Saturday, as The Governor of Svalbard said occupants of more than 100 residences and dorms in Lia and Nybyen can return home as of 3 p.m. Friday.

STORM UPDATE (9 P.M. THURSDAY): Worst of wind storm is past, but avalanche danger remains; evacuations to last until at least Saturday

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Update: 9:30 p.m.: The strongest winds from a storm that hit Longyearbyen on Thursday are over, but strong winds and high avalanche danger are expected to continue through the night, according to The Governor of Svalbard. About 100 residences and dorms evacuated before the storm will remain vacated until at least Saturday.

Original story (5:30 p.m.): A storm expected to bring winds of 90 kilometers an hour to Longyearbyen has rattled much of the town, but not caused any serious incidents as of 5:30 p.m. While Mayor Arild Olsen said it appears the most severe part of the storm appears to be arriving later than expected, an updated weather forecast suggests the worst winds may begin diminishing from peaks of about 85 kilometers an hour by 7 p.m.

Ultimate penalty: Russian tour company fined 150,000 kr. for 2017 snowmobile tour accident on sea ice that killed guide

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A Russian tour company whose guides failed to properly evaluate sea ice conditions, resulting in an accident where nine snowmobiles fell through the ice and a guide was killed, has been fined 150,000 kroner, The Governor of Svalbard announced Thursday.

THE APPROACHING STORM: New forecast calls for more intense winds and more snow in Longyearbyen to 90 km/h; Svalbardbutikken open until at least noon

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Update (11:20 a.m. Thursday): The Norwegian Meteorological Institute has slightly revised and downgraded the peak severity of the storm, with strong gale force winds of 85-90 kilometers per hour now forecast between 3-6 p.m. and slowly diminishing until 10 p.m. Svalbardbutikken will close at noon. Mix kiosk will also close about that time. Svalbard Auto is open as of noon. Assemblin is offering plumbing services at 900 42 509. Governor issues heightened safety alert warning of blowing objects in town and advising everyone to stay inside.

Original story: A major storm expected to bring hurricane-force winds of more than 160 kilometers an hour and extreme avalanche danger to Svalbard on Thursday grew in intensity overnight Wednesday, with the forecast now calling for stronger winds of up to 90 kilometers an hour in Longyearbyen and up to nearly eight millimeters (potentially 10cm or more) of precipitation.

EVACUATIONS ORDERED: More than 100 residences in Lia, Nybyen must be vacated by 8 a.m. Thursday; schools, library other public city facilities closed

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A total of 28 residences near the avalanche-prone mountain of Lia and 81 student dorms in Nybyen must be evacuated by 8 a.m. Thursday due to a storm expected to bring winds exceeding 80 kilometers an hour and extreme avalanche danger to Longyearbyen throughout the day, The Governor of Svalbard announced Wednesday evening. The evacuations are scheduled to last at least until Saturday morning.