Tag Archives: The Governor of Svalbard

ANOTHER EVACUATION OF NYBYEN (AND THIS ONE MAY BE LENGTHY): Massive buildup of hanging snow means buildings near mountains must be vacated ‘until further notice’


An evacuation of the mountainside buildings in Nybyen for a third straight weekend – and one whose length will be measured in weeks – has been ordered as of 6 p.m. Friday due to large cornices overhanging the mountains (click link for video) due to heavy snow accumulation in recent weeks, The Governor of Svalbard announced at midday Friday.

The evacuation order, which affects 117 people mostly in student dorms and tourist lodging such as Gjestehuset 102, is until further notice.

“We will make weekly assessments of the situation, and the evacuation and the traffic and residence ban, but we emphasize that it is very uncertain when this can be lifted,” Gov. Kjerstin Askholt said in a prepared statement. “Consideration for life and health always comes first.”

The evacuation also has longer-term implications for the area since for many years it has been classified as a high-risk area and private entities, not the city, are responsible for the safety of the occupants.

IT’S A CLEAR DAY – AS IN, CLEARLY GOING PLACES ISN’T WISE: Flights cancelled, multiple avalanches, poor visibility means lots of risk and rescue attempts will be difficult, governor says


Heavy snow Wednesday and predictions of more to come through Friday is prompting The Governor of Svalbard to urge people not to travel in mountainous terrain due to a high risk of avalanches and the likelihood rescues will be extremely difficult due to poor visibility.

The storm also resulted in the cancellation of the passenger and mail flights to Longyearbyen on Wednesday.

ALERT – POLAR BEAR IN TODALEN: Governor using helicopter and other vehicles to ‘push’ predator away from cabin area southeast of Longyearbyen frequented by spring travelers


Officials are trying to chase a polar bear visiting Todalen on Thursday morning away from the valley about 10 kilometers southeast of Longyearbyen where numerous cabins are located and spring travellers visit, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

Initial efforts to chase it south were thwarted when the bear returned and approached the landfill at the east end of town, according to a midday update. Attempts are now being made to chase the bear northwest via Hiorthhamn.

AVALANCHE ADVISORY: Three skiers safe after triggering snowslide on Nordenskiøldfjellet, but governor issues warning about conditions


Three skiers are safe after triggering an avalanche on Nordenskiøldfjellet at about 1 p.m. Sunday, prompting The Governor of Svalbard to issue an advisory to those on outdoor excursions despite what is seemingly relative safe conditions according to official avalanche warning forecasts.

SHUTDOWN TO SNOWMOBILES AGAIN: Ban on motor traffic in three popular areas to protect wildlife OK’d by governor; strong protests by tourism, researchers, cabin owners, filmers, others


A ban on motorized traffic in three areas heavily populated by seals and polar bears will be in effect from March 15 to June 1, The Governor of Svalbard announced Thursday after evaluating often highly critical comments from a wide variety of local interests from tourism to university research that use the areas.

POLAR BEAR INJURES MAN IN EAST SVALBARD: Bear shot and killed after attack on two-person excursion to Mohnbukta


A man working on a film project was injured by a polar bear Tuesday morning during a scouting excursion with a co-worker to Mohnbukta in east Spitsbergen, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“The polar bear has been shot and killed,” an announcement at the governor’s website states. “The governor was notified of the incident at 9:25 a.m. today. The man who was attacked by the polar bear is slightly injured. He is now being treated at Longyearbyen Hospital.”

GOVERNOR – DON’T TRAVEL TO/FROM SVALBARD UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY: Advisory issued Monday is not a ban, but major new restrictions on mainland being closely watched


People are urged to avoid all travel to and from Svalbard unless absolutely necessary, meaning vacations and other “leisure trips” should not occur, The Governor of Svalbard announced Monday afternoon.

The alert is not a mandate, but a rapidly worsening COVID-19 situation on the mainland due to the rapid spread of the mutated U.K. strain means local officials are keeping a constant watch to see if a heightened risk to Svalbard – and therefore an official ban and/or other lockdown measures – will be ordered.

ROAD BETWEEN SKJÆRINGA AND HUSET CLOSED: Avalanche danger due to overnight blizzard and forecast of more storms closes road indefinitely (UPDATE: reopen 3 p.m. Wed.)


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.

GOVERNOR GETS KINGLY APPOINTMENT: Kjerstin Askholt, Svalbard’s governor since 2015, moving to Norway’s southernmost district as new police chief in Agder


Kjerstin Askholt, named Svalbard’s governor in 2015 just as a literal and figurative avalanche of hardships were beginning, has been named the new chief of police in Agder, Norway’s King-in-Council announced Friday.

LIFE’S THE PITS FOR POLAR BEAR NEAR TOWN: Sleeping spot and tracks found east of Longyearbyen at Helvetiafjellet


It might be hibernation season when polar bears are supposed to retreat to their dens, but at least one is opting to camp outside near Longyearbyen as a hiker discovered tracks and a pit in the snow where the predatory slept, The Governor of Svalbard reported Wednesday.