Tag Archives: avalanche

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


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


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


“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


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


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


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.

STORM UPDATE (11:30 A.M. WEDNESDAY): Small avalanche on Sukkertoppen fails to reach homes


Both the wind and snow were much less severe than forecast overnight Tuesday, but there was still sufficient accumulation to trigger a small avalanche on the mountain where two previous avalanches have destroyed homes, according to The Governor of Svalbard. The latest avalanche did not reach any structures.

STORM UPDATE (9 P.M. TUESDAY): Wind, precipitation likely to be less severe than feared overnight Tuesday, officials say avalanche risk remains


Update 10 p.m.: The Norwegian Meteorological Institute is now forecasting only modest winds (up to 25 kilometers an hour) and precipitation overnight Tuesday, although heavy snow/rain/sleet is still predicted Wednesday.

Original story: A storm that hit Longyearbyen on Tuesday night won’t be as windy as originally forecast, but officials said heavy precipitation forecast through Wednesday still poses a significant avalanche risk.

A mixture of snow, sleet and rain are forecast due to temperatures just above zero, with up to 17 millimeters of precipitation possible between 9 a.m. Tuesday and the end of the day Wednesday. Winds are expected to reach peak speeds of up to 47 kilometers an hour (down from 65 km/h originally expected) by midnight Tuesday.

STORM UPDATE: 2nd anniversary of deadly avalanche eerily quiet in hours leading up to major blizzard Tuesday night


Two candle lamps flicked peacefully in front of a snow heart at 5 p.m. Tuesday on a still-clear street leading to the homes that were destroyed by an avalanche exactly two years ago today. But only a few meters away on both sides were barricades preventing residents from getting to the homes still standing – a literal warning sign of the fury about to hit the area again in the coming hours.

STORMY MEMORIES: Second anniversary memorial for deadly avalanche will take place during first serious blizzard of season


UPDATE 8:45 P.M. MONDAY – MEMORIAL GATHERING CANCELLED: Due to the storm and evacuation of dozens of home in at-risk areas, the second-anniversary avalanche memorial at Svalbard Church has been cancelled.

Original story: It won’t be anything like the storm that caused the tragic avalanche two years ago. But it’ll be bad enough to make reliving a bad experience even more chilling.

A storm with heavy snowfall and high winds is expected to hit Longyearbyen on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the most intense period coinciding with a memorial gathering at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Svalbard Church. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute is forecasting up to 15 millimeters of precipitation and winds gusting to 65 kilometers an hour. The worst of the storm is expected to pass by midnight.