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Never a wetter November

Temperatures have fallen below the freezing point again in Longyearbyen. But November was very wet. This sled sank into the ice during the rainy period, and is now stuck in the ice. FOTO: Christopher Engås

Never a wetter November

This year the month of November was the wettest since record-keeping started more than 100 years ago.

A total of 52 millimeters of precipitation fell last month at the measuring station in Longyearbyen. That is five-and-a-half millimeters more than the previous record set in 1993. The average for the month is only 15 millimeters of precipitation.

More from the west
State Meteorologist Matilda Hallerstig, who provides forecasts for northern Norway, said she is not particularly surprised by the precipitation record in Longyearbyen.

"What we are seeing now is that low pressures are increasingly coming from the west and also as far north as Svalbard, where they have traditionally come from the east," she said. "Svalbard has remained outside what we call the low-pressure belt, which the mainland is in."

Hallerstig says the record measurement is relatively local. In Ny-Ålesund, 73.2 millimeters of precipitation fell in November. It is the third-wettest November in history, but far behind the record. In November of 1993, there was 230.3 millimeters of precipitation in Ny-Ålesund.

Generally warmer
Weather statistics at yr.no show Longyearbyen also had a considerably warmer November than normal. The average temperature was minus 6.4 degrees Celsius, while the average is minus 10.3 degrees. The warmest day was Nov. 27 at 5.5 degrees, while the coldest came early on Nov. 4 at minus 19.2 degrees.

The state meteorologist said she is not surprised by the heat either.

"It will take a lot for 2014 to not be the warmest-ever year globally since records began," Hallerstig said. "I don't have the details about Svalbard now, but I also know that in the Arctic it has been a very warm year."

Does this also apply to Antarctica?

"I don't have the details, but there things are set a a little differently," she said. "There are cold ocean currents around the continent that largely keeps the warm air away."

Earning less
Among those quite aware of the abnormally high rainfall in November was LNS Spitsbergen.

"When a lot of rain came, there was a tremendous rush where we had to scatter and unearth culverts," said Arne Gunhildberget, the company's plant manager. "It was also not favorable for building our projects. Pile driving is difficult when there is mild weather and our building sites become skating rinks. Then we must use extra resources in scattering and securing."

Until further notice, harder working conditions beyond the company's tender bids will affect profits in Longyearbyen, but the situation may eventually go beyond the city's population in the form of needing to take better pay for tendering periods.

Multiple injuries
It is also possible to read in the rainfall statistics how busy it has been at Longyearbyen Hospital. In week 48, when it was the mildest, more people than usual sought urgent care at the hospital.

"We are a small hospital and will therefore will never get any major numbers," said Aksel Bilicz. the hospital's medical department leader. "But from a quick search in our systems, I can see that we had multiple cases of patients who had fallen and hurt themselves on the ice. This was particularly the case Friday and Saturday in week 48."


Se bildet større

Arne Gunhildberget and LNS Spitsbergen have had a few problems in Longyearbyen as a result of the unusually wet month behind us.

Se bildet større

Aksel Bilicz at Longyearbyen hospital noticed that the amount of injuries caused by slippery roads was up significantly last month. FOTO: Christian Nicolai Bjørke

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