Svalbard is practically a tropical destination at the moment. With temperatures reaching 18 degrees Celsius this week, swimsuits and piña coladas are the only things that might be on Spitsbergen beaches.
Only a handful of summer days have been warmer since records have been kept, said Sjur Wergeland, a duty meteorologist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute's northern Norway division in Tromsø.
"We have not yet gotten the maximum temperatures for today – Friday – yet, but it has been 17-point-something at the airport. Yesterday it was 17.9 degrees and that is far above normal," Wergeland said.
"That's the eighth-warmest temperature ever measured at the airport," he said. "July 16, 1979, was the warmest of the others at 21.3 degrees."
Longyearbyen is therefore one of the big summer "winners." By comparison, according to yr.no, it was 19 degrees on Friday in Oslo, 15 degrees in Copenhagen, and only 13 degrees in Bergen and Stavanger, to name a few places.
The heat wave is expected to continue at least through the weekend, Wergeland said. The unusual temperatures are resulting from a weather system sending hot air from the south in an arc around the rest of Scandinavia and toward Svalbard.
"There will be no major changes," he said. "Tomorrow and on Sunday there will be fine weather and very good temperatures up to 15 to 16 degrees."
"Actually, it looks good for quite a while into the next week, although we do not expect these record temperatures," he added.
For many tourists, it felt somewhat strange arriving to an Arctic with temperatures higher than the towns they left to the south.
"I came here yesterday and thought it would be much colder," said Marie Pachoud, a visitor from France, laughing. "This does not feel like the Arctic."
She was also in Svalbard in February because she is studying geology at The University Centre in Svalbard. She and fellow student Filip Johansson were sitting outdoors Friday enjoying their lunch in the summer heat.
"This is warmer here than it was at home in Gøteborg when I came up here again three weeks ago," Johansson said. "Now I'm regretting that I only packed my gym shorts."
Both of them said they believe it's important to take full advantage of summer days to the fullest when the opportunity presents itself and spent as much time outside as possible when the weather gods decree it.
"When you are in Gøteborg you really learn to appreciate summer," Johansson said laughing. "You never know when suddenly there will be two weeks of rain again."
Translated by Mark Sabbatini