STORM UPDATE: Evacuation of Nybyen lifted, no major damage reported as worst passes


An evacuation of Nybyen was lifted Thursday afternoon, and no major avalanches or damage were reported following a major snowstorm Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

But many residents are facing heavy burdens in the aftermath due to massive snowdrifts that buried vehicles and blocked doors, and road crews are still working to clear some roads.

The evacuation that affected 58 people was lifted at 2:42 p.m after an assessment of the mountains in Nybyen and Longyeardalen during the day, Gov. Kjerstin Askholt said in a prepared statement.

“There is new research on snow conditions both during at Sukkertoppen and Nybeyn,” she said. “On the basis of these studies is NVE’s assessment that there is no danger of avalanches will reach the settlements.”

“This shows that the avalanche warning system works as intended.”


Isak Røddesnes, 3, peers out a window covered with snow Thursday morning. Photo by Tove Jenssen Røddesnes.

Askholt said there were some minor avalanches that did not reach structures, but the risk of further snowslides remains high.“Also, we encourage people who live along the roads in Longyearbyen to use reflectors so that they are clearly visible to those driving snowplows, which still have a big job to do,” she said.Mostly it’s going well, but there have also been some cases where people have been difficult to see.”

But it didn’t take an avalanche for some things to get buried. Tove Jenssen Røddesnes told NRK she can’t see out of her house because all of the windows are covered with snow.”But I’ve peeked out the door” she said. “We have a real shovel job to do to get us out.”