Burning Man Is the Opposite of Burning This Year

About an inch of rain makes a muddy mess out of site in Nevada desert
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2023 6:01 AM CDT
Burning Man Is Soaking Man This Year
In this satellite photo provided by Maxar Technologies, an overview of Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nevada, on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023.   (?2023 Maxar Technologies via AP)

One might be tempted to rebrand Burning Man attendees from "burners" into "mudders" this year. As CNN reports, unusual storms dumped enough rain—a little less than an inch—on the annual bacchanal in the Nevada desert to turn Black Rock City into a soggy mess that has organizers shutting down travel and warning festival-goers to conserve food, water, and gas. "The gate and airport in and out of Black Rock City remain closed," the festival tweeted early Sunday. "Ingress and egress are halted until further notice. No driving is permitted except emergency vehicles." Festival organizers are deploying temporary cell phone towers for burners scrambling to change travel plans and get in touch with loved ones, the Reno Gazette Journal reports.

That's delaying what's known as the Exodus, which is exactly what it sounds like—when burners traditionally begin to depart on the Saturday night or Sunday of Labor Day weekend, with most of the 70,000 crowd typically leaving Sunday or Monday. But even more strikingly, it's delayed the iconic burning of the Man effigy, which normally gets lit up on Saturday night. More rain forecast overnight Saturday meant that likely wouldn't happen until Monday, which was also the earliest estimate for starting to let people leave the site, though they are permitted to make a five-mile hike out to the nearest paved road. Burners seem to be taking the soggy turn of events in stride, with many wrapping their shoes in plastic bags to stave off the goop or just building mud sculptures. "It's unavoidable at this point," one first-time attendee tells CNN. "It's in the bed of the truck, inside the truck. People who have tried to bike through it and have gotten stuck because it's about ankle deep." (More Burning Man stories.)

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