Tens of thousands of revelers attending the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert were urged to seek shelter and stockpile food and water on Saturday after a massive rainstorm turned the site into a mud pit.
The final weekend of the hedonistic event came to an end on Friday evening when freezing, muddy conditions prevailed.
“Don’t travel to Black Rock City!” Burning Man organizers tweeted, referring to the desert area where the alternative festival takes place
“Access to the city will be closed for the remainder of the event and you will be turned away,” organizers said in a statement on social media.
“The rain over the last 24 hours has created a situation that required a complete halt to vehicle movement on the playa,” they explained.
Shai Peza of Chicago frolicks in the mud and water at Burning Man on Saturday
Dirty D from Los Angeles plunges into the mud at Burning Man and prefers to move on all fours
Shai Peza of Chicago frolicks in the mud and water at Burning Man on Saturday
This handout satellite image courtesy of Maxar Technology shows an overview of the annual Burning Man festival taking place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert on August 29, 2023 – before rain
Burning Man attendees attempt to leave the festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada
Burners attempt to leave Burning Man after heavy rain Friday evening
After the rains, a double rainbow could be seen over the site
About six inches of rain is believed to have fallen Friday at the festival site, which is about 110 miles north of Reno, the National Weather Service in Reno said.
“An additional three inches of rain is expected late Saturday through Sunday, and conditions are not expected to improve sufficiently to allow vehicles to enter the playa,” the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said.
Revelers suffered from hypothermia after unprecedented storms destroyed the festival.
Organizers urged festival-goers already on site to “stock up on food, water and fuel and seek shelter in a warm, safe place.”
LA’s Dirty D adopted a playa name by which he’s been known throughout the week and declined to reveal the name he uses in the “default world.”
A Burning Man participant makes his way through the mud, carrying the bare essentials of water and coffee
One person was even seen with a boat parked on the site
People cover their shoes with plastic bags while others have their boots covered in mud
While participants were forced to seek shelter, one person could be seen carrying a case of beer
Additional rain is expected on Sunday and the “burners” could be stuck for days
Clothes and shoes are completely caked in mud as they roll over the slippery area
Black Rock Desert organizers and rangers advise participants not to drive as it will destroy exit routes
After rains, muddy footprints quickly fill with rainwater
They said it was unlikely the rain would stop before Sunday night. The festival was scheduled to end on Monday.
Due to rain, the “Playa”, the huge open-air promenade where the event takes place, was impassable.
However, those not stuck on site tried not to let the storms dampen their spirits, while local bars full of festival-goers still hoped to make the best of the dire situation.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 people made their way to the Nevada wasteland this year, making it one of the most attended events in Burning Man history and the event is one of the most highly anticipated each summer Events for festival visitors.
But after the skies opened on Thursday, torrential storms are expected to have brought the most rainfall the event has seen since it began in 1986.
Many attendees took to social media to share a glimpse of the destroyed event, with one sharing a grim video of the waterlogged art installations.
Thick, pasty mud surrounded Paul Reder’s RV Saturday afternoon, while scattered patches of blue tried to break through the gray cloud cover above.
“Luckily we are in a pretty big warehouse with a lot of supplies,” Reder said during a video call. “As a community, everyone shares with each other.”
Reder, who has attended the event for 22 years, said he expected it would take at least two days for the area to dry out.
As he prepared to ride out the event, Reder said some participants would leave the site on foot and trek to the nearest highway, about 12 miles away.
Photos published by the Reno Gazette Journal showed festival-goers walking through mud with trash bags wrapped around their legs. The newspaper reported that organizers had begun rationing ice cream sales
Burning Man visitors attempt to leave Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert
Even when participants leave Burning Man, they are still 12 miles from the small town of Gerlach, Nevada
Ben Joos from Nevada and Dub Kitty from Idaho try to figure out how to walk in the mud at Burning Man after a night of dancing with friends
Dawn on Saturday brought a grim realization to the Burning Man camp, where exit gates remain closed indefinitely
Some participants appeared to have had enough and could be seen loading vehicles to escape
A man is completely covered in mud on both his vehicle and his face
A stay-at-home order was issued in the early hours of Friday evening, but some chose to leave on foot
Traces left by vehicles entering and leaving the site can be seen on the desert floor
Recognized routes in and out of the terrain, now resembling a muddy slalom course
Floodwaters have stopped in Gerlach, Nevada, the city closest to the Burning Man festival
Some people were able to get around the site using all-terrain vehicles equipped to traverse the muddy landscape
In the TikTok, the festival-goer was seen panning a camera across a platform containing several waterlogged sculptures standing in the mud-caked desert.
In another video, a reveler gave his advice on “what to do at Burning Man when it rains.”
While they chose not to go to local bars with others, they recommended “singing karaoke,” putting plastic zip-top bags over their feet and walking “as little as possible” to avoid the dirty area .
While riding dune buggies and bikes around the Burning Man camp was a regular sight at the annual bash, organizers were also forced to ban the practice due to the treacherous conditions.
“Do not drive your vehicle. Don’t ride your bike, don’t push your bike around. Stay where you are. Secure structures and belongings in your camp,” a message on Twitter urged.
Cones line the muddy paths to the festival, even though the gates are now closed
The site of the Burning Man festival is a lake bottom, meaning that the site becomes extremely muddy when it rains
For some it seemed easier to take off their clothes to avoid getting their clothes caked in mud
A stay-at-home order was issued in the early hours of Friday evening, but some tried to brave the muddy tracks
Those who want to attend the festival are seen on the side of the road
A man can be seen trying to leave the area with his belongings, including a sleeping bag
These shoes will likely never be worn again after their muddy ordeal
The Burning Man site can be seen in the distance as some attempt to leave the site completely
The standing rainwater looks like a mirage in the desert with mountains in the distance
The festival appears to be the wettest in living memory
From higher ground it doesn’t look so bad, but on the ground it’s a queasy mess
Following the torrential rain, Sunday is again expected to be one of the wettest days of the festival and although the rain will make the site uncomfortable, flash flooding is not expected
Although organizers told people not to drive over the mud, a group could be heard in the video shouting at a large black SUV to “stop” after several vehicles became stuck in the mud in recent days.
The rain made the ground extremely slippery, and sticky mud stuck to bike tires and shoe treads, forcing participants to shuffle around.
“It’s just very slippery.” And you can’t drive there and it’s hard to maneuver through it and stuff like that. [The ground] Basically it just becomes like a paste. So yeah, certainly not ideal,” meteorologist Scott McGuire told SFGate.
Following the torrential rain, Sunday is again expected to be one of the wettest days of the festival and although the rain will make the site uncomfortable, flash flooding is not expected.
The Chapel of Babel was to have been burned down on Friday evening, but remained standing on Saturday morning due to terrible weather conditions
The effigy of the man to be burned on Saturday evening. All burns scheduled for Friday have been canceled
Dub Kitty and Ben Joos from Idaho and Nevada respectively run through the mud at the Burning Man site
The remnants of the rain can be seen in Gerlach, Nevada
Dirty D from LA seemed to be at one with the mud and seemed to be bathing in the mess
A Burning Man attendee shows off her foot covered in mud
An abandoned pool float – usually worn, ironically, at the dry, dusty Burning Man – lies in a puddle of mud
Many angry participants took to social media to report the aftermath of the violent storms, showing the Nevada desert turning into a mud-caked swamp
Some festival-goers headed to local bars to make the most of their trip after storms ruined Burning Man’s final weekend
Two local bars in Gerlach, Nevada were packed after severe storms brought the festival to a halt
The festival was placed under a mandatory stay-in-place order after swampy conditions caused cars to get stuck in mud and soaked art installations and structures at the event
Shortly after Friday night’s downpours, a double rainbow was seen
Friday and Sunday were expected to be the wettest days of the festival
.The roads are so bad that it is virtually impossible to walk, and organizers have asked everyone to hide and stay in their camps
While the Black Rock Desert rarely gets this much rain at once, last time Burning Man organizers were forced to close the gate for several days
Burning Man organizers are advising burners to shelter in place and not operate generators or other electrically powered devices that sit in the water and cover electrical items
The National Weather Service report for the Black Rock region shows showers lasting intermittently through Sunday night and then dissipating through Monday
Last year, the festival had to contend with a severe heatwave and strong winds, making the experience difficult for “burners,” as festival-goers are known.
Tens of thousands travel to the remote area of northwest Nevada each year and gather in the temporary city to make art, dance and enjoy community.
Burning Man is intended to be an indefinable event, somewhere between a celebration of the counterculture and a spiritual retreat.
The festival takes its name from its climax, the burning of a large wooden 40-foot effigy called “The Man” on the night before last.
The gathering, which began as a small event on a San Francisco beach in 1986 with a budget of $45 million and is now attended by celebrities and social media influencers, was scheduled to run from August 27th to September 4th take place.