STORM UPDATE: Evacuations to continue indefinitely, but hillside study and status update coming this evening


The evacuations that have displaced 259 people will continue indefinitely, but officials are scheduled to do further analysis of the hillsides surrounding Longyearbyen and issue a status update after meeting at 5:30 p.m., according to The Governor of Svalbard.

Those in emergency city housing should wait until an updated status report is issued (probably around 6:30 p.m.) before seeking to extend their stay, according an official at the emergency evacuation center at Kulturhuset. According to her, the center will remain open as long as evacuations are in effect.

A helicopter survey of the hillsides was conducted at midday Wednesday, followed by a meeting with city officials and experts with the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, a statement from the governor’s office notes. Although the rain that resulted in the evacuations due to the risk of landslides has all but stopped, temperatures remain above freezing and hillsides therefore remain potentially unstable.

Most of the evacuations occurred Monday afternoon before a storm dumped a near-record amount of rain on Longyearbyen overnight. About a dozen more apartments on Vei 232 were evacuated late Tuesday afternoon when cracks were discovered in the hillsides above.