Tag Archives: avalanche

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


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


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


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.