A year where the weather in Svalbard is as extreme as the rest of the surreality of 2020 set another record early Thursday morning as the temperature in an area between Longyearbyen and Svea rose from 3.9 degrees Celsius at midnight to all-time high for the archipelago on this date of 9.4 degrees, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.
The heat increase was felt across the surrounding area including Longyearbyen, where the temperature peaked at 9.2 degrees at 3 a.m. Combined with rain and wind that meant most of the scant snow cover in many areas was obliterated (along, it seems, with a freakishly early avalanche threat in the vicinity following several small slides last weekend since an alert on the official warning website is gone).
The record temperature was set at Reindalspasset, northeast of Svea and southeast of Longyearbyen. The heat wave was triggered by a storm center in Grønlandshavet, which drew up warm air from the south, NRK reported.
The previous high temperature record for Svalbard on Nov. 12 was 7.8 degrees in Ny-Ålesund in 2011.
Notable other temperature records have been set this year in Svalbard, perhaps most notably an all-time high of 21.7 degrees set in Longyearbyen on July 24 that was part of a heat spell when temperatures above 20 degrees were exceeded for the first time in recorded history.
But the meteorological madness hasn’t been all about getting hot under the collar. Longyearbyen also made headlines on April Fool’s Day (no joking) when an 111-month streak of above average monthly temperatures finally came to an end.
Also, beyond the records there’s been other oddities, most recently involving a rare sandstorm (shortly before the avalanche warning was issued) that one weather expert called “Norway’s answer to the Sahara.”
The forecast for Longyearbyen calls for above-freezing temperatures and occasional rain (possibly turning to snow at times) through Sunday before returning to more seasonable temperatures between minus five and minus ten degrees.