Tag Archives: avalanche

SUMMER SHELTER: Evacuation order for homes in avalanche-prone area of Lia lifted – but will new snow barriers be finished before winter returns?

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An evacuation order for dozens of residences in a high-risk avalanche zone that’s been in effect since Dec. 22 has been lifted, but will likely be reinstated when significant snowfall returns to Longyearbyen unless snow barriers currently under construction are securely in place, The Governor of Svalbard announced Thursday.

Sound safety: Helicopter begins placing supports for avalanche barriers on mountainside above at-risk homes in Lia

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To a casual observer the helicopter activity a short distance above the rows of quaint homes might have seemed like a noisy neighborhood nuisance, but the loads it was lifting came from the exact spot where a massive avalanche swept away 11 of those homes and killed two people – and the goal is to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.

Learning from loss: Local and visiting Red Cross rescuers try new type of training exercise based on 2015 avalanche

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Rescuers frantically dug the human-like shape out of a tightly packed mix of snow and smashed bed debris, then one of them laughed when someone asked if they could guess the sex of the “victim.” After carefully loading the “body” – in reality a life-sized doll – on a makeshift stretcher consisting of a loose board among the debris they tossed it back in the corner, then shoveled snow and wreckage back on what apparently was a “her.”

Presumably not all of that would occur during a real avalanche rescue. But the hasty you’re-saved-you’re-not operation was part of an afternoon where about 40 Red Cross rescuers from Longyearbyen and the mainland divided into four teams to practice four different rescue aspects involving an avalanche submerging a residence and the surrounding area in snow and wreckage.

‘A completely unsustainable situation’: New avalanche risk report says far more homes than thought are vulnerable

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Far more homes in the center of Longyearbyen are vulnerable to avalanches than previously thought. Spending 100 million to protect 37 residences and other parts of the city center with various snow barriers is being recommended. But there appears to be no practical way to protect about 140 more residences – meaning even more costly teardown and rebuilding efforts for a town already in a large-scale housing crisis.

Abandon all hope: Svalbard’s 10 biggest stories of 2017

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We’re not going to spin it: the year known as 2017 was a disaster – literally.

An avalanche early on shook the community and its leaders to its foundations, climate change inflicted maybe its most humiliating impact on us yet, Barentsburg suffered through two fatal crashes and the hope of some kind of future in terms of Store Norske’s coal mines suffered a death far more painful than even the most pessimistic envisioned.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Jan. 30, 2018

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Record number of fire alarms; kitchen fires a particular concern
The Longyearbyen Department received a record 187 alarms during 2017, 15 of which were fires or ignitions. Of those, 11 were due to “dry cooking,” which often happens late at night when intoxicated people fall asleep while cooking.

‘Never got information about the danger’: Parents of 2-year-old girl killed in 2015 avalanche seek 4.4M kr. in lawsuit

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“Had we known about the danger of avalanches we never would have agreed to live there.”

But Pia Sivertsen says she never learned about that risk and as a result her two-year-old daughter, Nikoline Røkenes, was killed when an avalanche struck the family’s home and ten others on Dec. 9, 2015. The young girl was rescued after being buried in snow, but died a day later in a Tromsø hospital and now her parents have filed a lawsuit seeking 4.4 million kroner from officials they say were negligent about the avalanche risks they knew existed in the area.

STORM ALERT: 20-40mm of precipitation, near-gale winds, warm temps, high avalanche risk forecast Saturday

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A storm is expected to dump up to 40 millimeters of precipitation – all or mostly rain – in Longyearbyen on Saturday, causing significant avalanche and flooding risks, according to an alert issued Friday by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

Keep the lights on: If Santa could bring Longyearbyen one thing for Christmas? Opening mines, safe housing top wish list

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It was a perfect symbolism for Christmas in Longyearbyen in 2017 – the locals dancing and singing as they circled the town’s official tree whose lights were dark (a seemingly laugh-it-off error that turned out to be deliberate sabotage). Because the top item on the wish list of many locals comes to down to one thing: keeping the lights going at something significant where they’re being turned off.

STORM UPDATE (3 P.M. WEDNESDAY): Governor lifts evacuation order for Lia and Nybyen

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An evacuation of about 80 residences and guest accommodations in avalanche-prone areas of Lia and Nybyen was lifted Wednesday afternoon by The Governor of Svalbard after a storm overnight Tuesday hit with less severity than feared.