Tag Archives: Norwegian Geotechnical Institute

All-clear: Government finds no criminal negligence in deadly Dec. 19 avalanche as cleanup of last debris ends

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Although official warnings the area was at-risk have existed for more than 20 years, there are no grounds for criminal charges following the avalanche last Dec. 19 that destroyed 11 homes and killed two people, according to prosecutors.

Is someone to blame? Little action taken despite more than 20 years of avalanche risk warnings; many asking why

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The catastrophe occurred within seconds. But there was at least 23 years to heed warnings and take actions that might have prevented it.

As the immediate shock and living rearrangements from the Dec. 19 avalanche pass, local leaders and others are asking if someone is to blame. A series of reports since 1992 has highlighted settled areas of Longyearbyen that are at risk of avalanches – including Sukkertoppen, where December’s deadly slide occurred.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Evacutation restriction lifted, monitoring to continue in case of additional storms

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A restriction prohibiting residents from entering 114 still-habitable homes in an area considered a high avalanche risk has been lifted as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

The decision, announced at the governor’s website and during a community meeting at Kulturhuset at the same time the restriction was lifted, comes after temperatures dropped well below freezing and preciptation has ceased for what forecasters expect to be an extended duration.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: All 11 homes buried completely destroyed insurance company says; city leaders propose new ‘neighborhood’ at Elvesletta

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All 11 homes buried in the Dec. 19 avalanche are a total loss and, while many furnishings and other items inside may be salvagable, building a new neighborhood in a safer area will likely be preferable to rebuilding the wrecked one, according to city and insurance officials.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Storm w/ heavy precipitation, gale-force winds, temps to 7C expected Wed.-Thurs.; evacuation extended through New Year’s

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A storm expected to bring heavy rain and sleet, gale-force winds and temperatures up to seven degrees Celsius between midnight Wednesday and Thursday night presents a risk of new avalanches, according to officials who have extended an evacuation order for 80 residents with homes in the highest-risk area through New Year’s Day.

The storm could bring up to 20 millimeters of precipitation – about the same as the snowfall that triggered the Dec. 19 avalanche that buried 11 homes and killed two people, although that storm occurred over a period of several hours – and winds up to 50 kilometers per hour, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The heaviest rainfall and highest temperatures are expected Thursday afternoon.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Analysis shows 5,000 tons of snow hit homes at 80 km/h; response by organizations and individuals generally praised

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Both the event and response were a case of an immensely large force meeting a seeming unmovable object.

As what will surely be a prolonged examination begins of the causes, response to and long-term impacts of the Dec. 19 avalanche, the immediate verdict is the damage – massive as it was – could have been much worse and the rescue efforts could not have been much better.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Mixture of snow, rain and temps up to 5C next week ‘could be good or it could be really bad’

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Rapidly rising temperatures expected to reach five degrees Celsius by Tuesday, and a mixture of rain and snow, could help settle avalanche-prone snow in Longyearbyen – or trigger it, one of two experts who surveyed the area last week said Sunday.

“It could be good be good or it could be really bad,” said Odd-Arne Mikkelsen of the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute. “It depends on the amount of precipitation, but right now it looks like small amount so that would be good.”

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Cold stabilizes snow conditions despite unfavorable winds, but heavy snow and temperatures above freezing forecast next week

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Temperatures of about minus 15 degrees Celsius are stabilizing Longyearbyen’s snow-packed hillsides this weekend despite strong winds from the east that were a factor in last week’s avalanche, according to an assessment published Saturday morning by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Longyearbyen added to Norway’s daily avalanche warning system

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Daily reports about avalanche conditions in Longyearbyen and the surrounding area are now being provided as the city was added to Norway’s avalanche warning system Wednesday.