Update 1 p.m. Wednesday: The road will open at 3 p.m. today, according to the city.
Original story: The road at the base of mountains on the west side of Longyearbyen between Skjæringa and Huset is closed indefinitely due to the threat of avalanches following a storm overnight, officials said Tuesday.
The stretch of road that begins shortly before Longyearbyen Cemetery when heading toward Huset is being closed due to westerly winds reinforcing snow accumulation on the mountainsides, which in recent years have been declared a significant risk for avalanche and landslides, according to The Governor of Svalbard. Barriers were set up at about 1:30 p.m.
“The lighted trail along Vei 300 will not be groomed during the closure,” a statement by the governor notes, referring to a path along the side of the road popular with skiers.
Police Chief Lt. Lisbeth Hansen told Svalbardposten another storm forecast for Thursday with easterly winds could result in further hazardous.
The road has been closed at length during the past several years due to landslides and avalanches, as well as the threat of them.
A Level 3 (“considerable”) avalanche risk has been declared for the Longyearbyen area Tuesday and Wednesday by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate. Generally a Level 4 (out of 5) risk level has been declared in recent years before officials limit access to or evacuate other high-risk areas such as Nybyen.
The weather forecast calls for light snow and winds during those days, but more snow and stronger winds Thursday and Friday.