Burning Man festival-goers stranded in desert as rain turns site into mud bath

US News

Burning Man festival attendees were urged to remain indoors and ration their supplies of food and water on Friday due to persistent heavy rainfall in the Black Rock Desert of northwestern Nevada.

By Friday evening, all movement in and out of Black Rock City had been suspended, while the entrance gate and airport were also shut down, the event organisers reported.

Burning Man is a celebration of self-expression that culminates in the ceremonial burning of a towering 40ft effigy. Its origins can be traced back to the incineration of an eight-foot wooden “man” on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986, which eventually evolved into an annual gathering in the Black Rock Desert.

In Black Rock City, driving is strictly prohibited except for emergency vehicles.

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“Stay prepared for adverse weather conditions continuing through the night and into Saturday,” the organisers said on Friday.

Heavy rainfall had a widespread impact across the state on Friday, with the looming threat of flash floods affecting eastern, north-central, northeast, and south-central Nevada, as noted by the National Weather Service.

In a Saturday morning update, forecasters warned of an increasing flash flooding threat for the Labor Day holiday weekend as a slow-moving upper trough tapped into tropical and monsoonal moisture, fuelling multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms that would bring heavy rainfall to northern and central Nevada.

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The flash flood watch is expected to continue in the area until Monday morning.

During the night, Black Rock City experienced approximately 0.6 to 0.8 inches of rainfall, as reported in an update from organisers on Saturday morning.

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“The low pressure system responsible for yesterday’s rain has shifted west, leaving us with partly sunny skies and light winds today. However, rain returns early Sunday morning and continues through the afternoon as the low pressure system moves eastward across Black Rock City and exits the region,” according to the update.

Organisers also warned on Saturday: “If you are in BRC, conserve food, water and fuel, and shelter in a warm, safe space.”

The exact attendance figures for this year’s festivities remain unclear, but typically, tens of thousands convene in the Black Rock Desert each year for the event, as indicated on Burningman.org.

The event began on 27 August and is set to continue until 4 September.

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