A total of 28 residences near the avalanche-prone mountain of Lia and 81 student dorms in Nybyen must be evacuated by 8 a.m. Thursday due to a storm expected to bring winds exceeding 80 kilometers an hour and extreme avalanche danger to Longyearbyen throughout the day, The Governor of Svalbard announced Wednesday evening. The evacuations are scheduled to last at least until Saturday morning.
All residents are being advised to avoid travel during the day, and the city of Longyearbyen has announced Longyearbyen School, kindergartens, Kulturhuset, Longyearbyen Library, the Longyearbyen Youth Club and Svalbardhallen will be closed during the day.
“Due to the strong wind, dangerous situations can arise in the city with loose objects flying through the air and damage to buildings,” an announcement issued by the governor’s office states. “One must also expect very poor visibility, which further enhances the danger. Therefore, we encourage people to stay inside.”
If the weather forecast for Thursday changes significantly, services closed by the city will be open as normal. the city announced on its website.
Passenger flights and the mail flight at Svalbard Airport for Thursday have been cancelled.
The Norwegian Meteorological Institute forecast calls for strong winds during the early morning hours that will reach gale speeds by 11 a.m. Winds are expected to remain at gale force the rest of the day, peaking at 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Modest snowfall and temperatures several degrees below zero Celsius are also forecast.
A Level Four avalanche risk level for the area Thursday and Friday has been declared, which the meteorological institute classifies as “red alert” status.
The evacuations in Lia will apply to the following residences on Vei 228: 228-2, 228-4 A, B, C, D, E, 228-7, 228-9, 228-11, 228-13 A, B, C, D , E.
The Nybyen evacuations apply to all buildings on the upper side of the road closest to the mountains. The road between Longyearbyen school and Nybyen is also being restricted to public traffic, but people in the buildings on the non-evacuated side of the road (such as those where Coal Miners Cabins is located) will be able to travel on the road.
The storm is expected to bring hurricane-force winds exceeding 160 km/h to some part of Svalbard.