Svalbard Avalanche


Keep the tight knit Arctic community of Longyearbyen, Svalbard in your thoughts this holiday season. After an evil storm, an avalanche has killed two and hospitalized more, and to complicate matters it happened just two days before the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, at the height of the long polar night.

Mark Sabbatini, editor of the local weekly newspaper and web site, is providing the best English coverage by far in difficult circumstances – Mark’s own house is among those evacuated until officials determine the risk of further avalanches is past.

It looks from here like Norwegian authorities are responding crisply, running an air ambulance from Tromsø and offering 80-100 free seats on an extra Norwegian Air flight to Oslo for evacuees. The town’s main store, Svalbardbutikken opened on Sunday to provide supplies to evacuees and victims at the city government’s expense.

Spare a good thought for those folks.