ANOTHER EVACUATION EXTENSION, ANOTHER AVALANCHE: Mountainside of Nybyen off-limits for another week; risk-level for area drops, but avalanches still happening

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An evacuation of the mountainside buildings and traffic ban on the snow trail in Nybyen was extended for a third week on Thursday afternoon by The Governor of Svalbard, just a few hours before the latest of numerous avalanches in recent weeks was observed in the well-traveled valley of Fardalen southeast of Longyearbyen.

Nobody was caught in the avalanche and the risk-level for the entire region has been lowed to Level Two (“Moderate”) as of Thursday. The Nybyen evacuation was ordered when there was a Level Four risk level – one below the maximum – due to snow and wind that resulted in cornices up to seven-meters high on the mountains at the south end of town.

That hanging snow still poses sufficient risk to extend the evacuation until at least next Thursday, the governor announced after a meeting with city officials and experts from the Norwegian Water Resources Energy Directorate.

“There is still a danger that the cornices at the top of Gruvefjellet may loosen and fall down,” a statement notes.

Also, “after the traffic ban was introduced, there are still some who are crossing the barriers and driving snowscooter through the area. Violation of the traffic ban can lead to punitive reactions from the governor.”

City officials put up barricades on the snow trail several days ago after fresh tracks were discovered.

The avalanche in Fardalen was reported at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, the governor stated, adding “we ask people who travel in the terrain to be careful and not seek out avalanche-prone areas.”

A Level Two risk level is forecast for the region through Sunday.

“Conditions are dangerous,” the directorate’s website notes. “Be careful in lee areas with wind deposited snow, typically behind ridges, ribs and in gullies. Be aware of a persistent weak layer buried by windslabs. Remote triggering is possible. Watch out for cornice-breaks.”

About Post Author

Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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