Tag Archives: landslide

STORM UPDATE: ‘I was scared when I saw it,’ says UNIS geology student who discovered mountain cracks above Vei 232 apartments


Aleksandra Smyrak-Sikora said she stayed home Tuesday because she was feeling a little ill. But when she saw huge cracks in the mountain above her apartment by the faint light of midday she felt far worse.

“I was scared when I saw it,” said Smyrak-Sikora, a PhD student studying geology at The University Centre in Svalbard who has conducted previous landslide research and took the photo above. “It was several segments.”

The cracks were about 30 meters from a cluster of apartments on Vei 232 in Gruvedalen. She contacted The Governor of Svalbard and geology experts at UNIS, and after analyzing the hillside an order was given at about 4:15 p.m. to the occupants of a dozen apartments – including the one she shares with her husband and 15-month-old daughter – to evacuate them by 6 p.m.

Moving lessons: UNIS students say it feels ‘just like a school trip’ as 86 bussed to Nybyen for evacuation of dorms


Within a couple of hours, the weather forecast changed the general opinion at The University Centre in Svalbard from “all fieldwork is cancelled” to “we need to evacuate Nybyen.”

STORM UPDATE: Mayor says snow in mountains a concern since rain and heat tonight may trigger avalanches


Officials inspecting the mountains of Longyearbyen by helicopter at midday Tuesday are assessing the risk of avalanches as well as the potential landslide threat that may exist during the rain and warm temperatures forecast for tonight, according to Mayor Arild Olsen.

STORM UPDATE: Worst rain to hit about 9 p.m., taper off dramatically by 6 a.m. Tuesday; police patrols watching for landslides and damage throughout night


Update (10 p.m. Monday): The maximum rainfall rate now forecast by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute between now and 6 a.m. Tuesday is 1.4 mm per hour. That’s half the rate that triggered the landslides in mid-October and – in theory – not high enough to trigger slides on its own, according to an expert at The University Centre in Svalbard. But don’t breath easy, given how saturated the mountains already were before the storm, the immense soaking they’ve already gotten today and the continuing near-gale winds.

Original story: A revised forecast by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute is calling for about 10 more millimeters of preciptation in Longyearbyen between 8 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday, with the heaviest rain between 9 p.m. and midnight. Wind gusts up to 60 kilometers per hour are also expected.

Two police officers working for The Governor of Svalbard will monitor the mountainsides and other at-risk areas throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning using patrol vehicles, said Police Chief Lt. Arve Johnsen.

STORM UPDATE: Avalanche danger at maximum possible level above 700 meters; cable car installations unstable


A severe rain and wind storm that has forced evacuation of dozens of homes in Longyearbyen early Monday afternoon due to the risk of landslides also means the risk of avalanches is at the highest possible level above 700 meters in west Spitsbergen, according to emergency officials.

ALERT: Landslide near cemetery closes road between Huset and the old museum; other areas being assessed


Update 3 p.m.: The road to Endalen is also closed until further notice and there is still a high risk of further landslides, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“In general, The Governor of Svalbard strongly recommends everyone to refrain from entering slopes and ridges in Longyearbyen and surrounding areas” a statement at the governor’s website notes. “This includes all commonly used tracks and trails in the area.”

Original story: A landslide triggered by heavy rain covered the road near Longyearbyen’s cemetery Saturday morning, prompting The Governor of Svalbard to close the road and conduct a helicopter search to determine if other areas are at risk.

ALERT: Landslide, two polar bears across from Longyearbyen prompt travel warnings


A female polar bear and her cub spotted Saturday morning at Revneset, and a large landslide just beyond the cabin area across from Longyearbyen mean people venturing beyond town need to take extra precautions, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

Disintigrating dreams: Two cabins at Bjørndalen in danger after erosion during a single storm; road also at risk


Plenty of homes in Longyearbyen are suffering everything from cracking to the threat of being wiped out by landslides due to climate- and weather-related events. But three cabins on the outskirts of town and the road leading to them may be an indicator of how quickly destruction can occur in extreme conditions.