ANOTHER (NON-HARMFUL) AVALANCHE IN NYBYEN: No buildings or people near snow slide, and another evacuation not necessary, but elevated risk for area remains, governor says


The second sizeable avalanche in four days occurred in Nybyen at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, although no buildings or people were harmed, according to The Governor of Svalbard. Although the mountainside portion of the area was evacuated for a four-day period that ended Tuesday, avalanche experts say the new snow slide is not evidence another evacuation is necessary.

The avalanche occurred at Gruvefjellet, north of the area where tourist and student housing along the mountainside is located, a statement by the governor notes. Another avalanche that occurred Sunday came near two cabins at the northernmost portion of the neighborhood, but caused no damage.

Roughly 60 people were removed from the area beginning Saturday morning and a ban placed on traffic along the mountainside snow trail due to the avalanche risk posed by a weekend blizzard and previous snow accumulation. The order was lifted Tuesday morning.

But the storm and accumulation is making for elevated avalanche potential in much of the vicinity of Longyearbyen, and travel advisories are being issued daily by the governor. A Level Three (“considerable”) risk level is forecast through at least Friday by the Norwegian Water and Energy Resources Directorate.

“Complex situation with persistent weak layers,” a summary of the forecast notes. “Avalanches are triggered most easily where the snow pack is thin, typically close to ridges and on convex formations. Remote triggering from less steep terrain is possible.”