The Recreational Mariner's Guide

3. Svalbard

Weather and Weather Forecasts

The information below is in addition to that presented in the Norway Weather and Weather Forecasts chapter; some of which also applies to Svalbard.

Weather conditions in the high Arctic can change dramatically from year to year and your crew and boat must be prepared for whatever conditions are encountered, which could be anything from warm, clear and mildly windy weather to a great deal of cold fog, snow and very strong winds.

The winds in the area during June, July and early August are generally moderate, but there may be exceptions. Local topography has a great effect, with an extreme variation in wind strength and direction found over a short distance. Fallvinder (williwaws or katabatic gusts) are prevalent at the base of high mountains and below the icecap.

During the latter half of August the weather usually becomes less settled and more severe.



Since mobile phone reception is only available in the area around Isfjorden and in Ny Ålesund, you are deprived of that valuable method of receiving English language forecasts, making Navtex even more desirable than it is in Norway. A good Navtex receiver will pull in forecasts during the voyage to Svalbard and throughout the archipelago.

Broadcast Radio

For those who can understand some Norwegian, forecasts on mediumwave 1485 kHz from the transmitter in Longyearbyen can be received in parts of the archipelago.

DAB+ is available around Longyearbyen.

Public radio can also be accessed through the 4G/2G Telenor networks in N Bjørnøya, Longyearbyen and Ny Ålesund.


Bjørnøya Meteo broadcasts weather forecasts in English for the sea area between Bjørnøya and Sørkapp at 1005 and 2205 UTC on VHF channel 12; an announcement is made on channel 16.

Weather forecasts in Norwegian for coastal waters (including Spitsbergen) are broadcast over VHF relay stations on working channels at 0900, 1200, 1500, 1800 and 2100. These will be available for large parts of the west coast of Spitsbergen. Weather forecasts in English will be provided upon request. 


Forecasts from Bjørnøya Meteo are also available on MF. Coastal Radio North also read out weather forecasts for offshore areas in English on MF at 1203 UTC and 2303 UTC.

A properly-installed HF receiver will receive weather faxes from both Germany and the UK but, unfortunately, the UK maps cut off Svalbard. Ironically, if you can download these same UK maps via the internet, Svalbard is included, since the truncation is a result of the fax transmitter’s drum width.


Some GRIB files may cut off at 80˚N so you will need to supplement their information in some way, if you are planning to sail the north or east coasts of the archipelago.

In addition to satellite communication, GRIB files can also be downloaded through the Telenor 4G/2G networks on N Bjørnøya, Longyearbyen and Ny Ålesund.

Weather Routing

If you require professional help with weather forecasts and routing, we recommend Commanders Weather.