STORMY OUTLOOK: Home at Sverdrupbyen evacuated, Vei 300 closed between Huset and Museumsveien closed due to avalanche risk


One residence at Sverdrupbyen was evacuated and the road between Huset and Museumsveien closed to all traffic Tuesday afternoon due to avalanche concerns, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

The evacuation and closure along the mountainside on the west side of Longyearbyen, announced at about 4 p.m., comes nearly two weeks after two dozen residences along the mountains on the east side of town were evacuated – some for the rest of the winter – due to the same concerns.

“The evacuation of the house at Sverdrupbyen is based on the weather forecasts and the snow condition assessment from (The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate),” Gov. Kjerstin Askholt said in a prepared statement. “The weather conditions indicate that in this situation we focus on the settlement along the western side of the valley. We are carefully following the weather situation.”

A moderate amount of snow was added to the existing snowpack Tuesday in Longyearbyen, and the forecast from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute calls for temperatures ranging from a few degrees zero to a few degrees above, occasionally strong winds, and potentially heavy snow and (more likely) rain at times through Sunday.

A Level Three risk level (“considerable”) is forecast Wednesday and Thursday for Longyearbyen, according to the NVE.

“Conditions are dangerous,” an alert at the agency’s website notes. Be careful in lee areas with wind deposited snow, typically behind ridges, ribs and in gullies. Be aware of a persistent weak layer buried by windslabs.”