From one extreme to the other: Yet another month of record heat in November gives way to -21C this week


If December’s average temperature in Longyearbyen is minus four degrees Celsius or warmer, the yearly average will be above freezing for the first time in history. But what seemed highly possible a couple of weeks ago now appears highly doubtful with the community plunging into a deep freeze this week.

Temperatures dropped sharply overnight Monday and Tuesday morning, reaching minus 19 degrees Celsius late in the day, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The forecast calls for a low of minus 21 degrees by midday Wednesday before gradually rising out of double-digit negative temperatures by the end of the week.

But the long-term forecast through late next week still calls for temperatures well below the minus four degree level needed to put Longyearbyen in the red, so to speak, for the year. Of course, the past year has seen a rather large number of staggeringly unlikely things happen, including the mercury soaring to about nine degrees Celsius in Longyearbyen at the end of last December.

Longyearbyen average temperature in November was minus 0.7 degrees, 9.6 degrees above normal and the 74th consecutive month above-average temperatures. December’s historical monthly average is minus 14.5 degrees.

A total of 58 millimeters of precipitation fell during November, including a record 41.7 millimeters on Nov. 8 that triggered numerous landslides and flooding, and forced more than 250 people to evacuate their residences for up to three days.