ALERT: Evacuation order lifted for Lia, Nybyen at 3 p.m. Friday as storm passes without avalanches or significant incidents in Longyearbyen


The storm wasn’t as long or bad as predicted, and the same is now true for an evacuation order imposed early Thursday and expected to last until Saturday, as The Governor of Svalbard said occupants of more than 100 residences and dorms in Lia and Nybyen can return home as of 3 p.m. Friday.

The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) has today checked the mountainsides in the evacuation area,” Gov. Kjerstin Askholt said in a prepared statement. “Weather forecasts and observations made indicate that the evacuation and ban on entry/residence ban can be lifted Friday afternoon.”

The NVE avalanche risk rating for Svalbard on Friday is classified as Level Three (“considerable”), one level below the level Thursday that prompted a “red alert” warning for the entire archipelago.

The storm also brought gale-force winds to Longyearbyen and hurricane-force winds to some parts of Svalbard, but snow accumulation in many parts of town was minimal and there were no reports of major damage or other significant problems due to the wind.

Statements the evacuation would last until Saturday were issued by officials well into Friday, including one at about 9 a.m. by The University Centre in Svalbard telling the students in 81 dorms in Nybyen “the avalanche danger is still high and the evacuated areas will remain evacuated.”