STORM UPDATE: Evacuation situation remains uncertain with more rain and warm temperatures expected tonight


An immense rainstorm forced about 140 people to evacuate residents and guest lodges Monday afternoon due to landslide and flooding concerns and, while no major incidents were reported, officials were unsure as of midday Tuesday about whether it would be safe for people to return to their homes.

“There has been very high rainfall on the western side of Spitsbergen during the night, and there have been some minor landslides in the Longyearbyen area,” a statement issued at about 10:30 a.m. by The Governor of Svalbard notes. “Apart from a minor landslide that have destroyed parts of the kennels just outside the town, there were no reports of damage or injuries.”

“We are currently working to get an overview of the situation, including via a helicopter inspection with people from the governor’s office, Longyearbyen Community Council and avalanche experts. More rain and rising temperatures are expected tonight.”

Emergency officials are scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday to determine if the evacuation order should be modified. The evacuation center at Kulturhuset will be open from noon to 4 p.m.