Attendees of Burning Man festival have been urged to shelter in place due to heavy downpours in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
More than 73,000 stranded “burners” have been told to remain at their campsites as a slow-moving rainstorm fell on the usually dry desert. Up to 1 inch of rain fell in the area on Friday, Fox Forecast Center reported.
Organizers asked attendees to preserve food and water, and driving and biking was temporarily banned on the muddy roads.
“The Gate and airport in and out of Black Rock City remain closed. Ingress and egress are halted until further notice,” the festival’s traffic account tweeted on Saturday. “No driving is permitted except emergency vehicles. If you are in BRC, conserve food, water, and fuel, and shelter in a warm, safe space.”
Cell phone service in the area is also extremely limited, USA Today reported. Meanwhile, weather conditions prevented cleaning staff from emptying thousands of portable toilets, according to The Guardian.
Thunderstorms are expected to continue on Saturday evening and extend into Sunday, according to The National Weather Service in Reno, Nevada. Attendees have been told to hunker down until weather conditions improve.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency which oversees the area where Burning Man is held, said in a statement to The Reno Gazette-Journal that entry will remain closed for the rest of the festival. Burners waiting to get in were told to go home.
“Officials from BLM and the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office have closed ingress to the Burning Man event effective immediately and for the remainder of the event. Participants inbound for the event should turn around and head home,” the statement read.
“Rain over the last 24 hours has created a situation that required a full stop of vehicle movement on the playa. More rain is expected over the next few days and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa.”
Video posted by attendees on TikTok showed people wearing trash bags at knee-length to cover their feet while walking in the mud.
“All the activities were shut down, we slept with no house music bumping, everything stopped,” TikTok user Angie Peacock said. “They shut the water down, I’m walking around helping pull power cables out of the ground so they don’t get stuck in the mud.
Burning Man hit by heavy rains, now mud soaked.
People there told to conserve food and water as they shelter in place.
(Video: Josh Keppel) pic.twitter.com/DuBj0Ejtb8
— scott budman (@scottbudman) September 2, 2023
Other attendees, however, fully embraced the mud and even covered their bodies with it.
“This is the ultimate filter of beauty,” Dub Kitty told the Gazette-Journal. “We’re trying to find my camp and magic along the way.”
Temperatures on Saturday are expected to reach above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
“We’re going the other direction, a cooler and wetter Burning Man weekend,” National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Deutschendorf told The LA Times. “... they have to prepare for either extreme.”
The popular event kicked off on 27 August after it was delayed due to flooding caused by Hurricane Hilary.
According to its website, the festival is a “temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance.”
The six-day event in the Black Rock Desert will close with the torching of a 40-foot effigy on Monday.