This year’s Burning Man festival has apparently turned into a muddy dystopia. Over 70,000 festival-goers have found themselves trapped in Black Rock City, unable to leave or even move around the festival grounds.
Organizers had to shut down the festival's entrance gate and airport on Friday night amid rains, which effectively isolated everyone within the playa, according to SFGATE.
For anyone in BRC, help each other stay safe. The gate and airport in and out of Black Rock City remain closed. Ingress and egress are halted for the time being. Stay prepared for adverse weather conditions continuing through the night and into Saturday.— Burning Man Project (@burningman) September 2, 2023
As of 8 a.m. on Saturday, the gate and airport reportedly remained closed, and vehicles and bikes were rendered immobile in the sludgy terrain, except for emergency vehicles. Organizers warned festival-goers to “shelter in place.” With more rain expected to persist through Sunday, they even urged Burners to ration their resources. Scheduled burns for that evening had to be canceled, according to the Reno Gazette Journal, which reported an astonishing 73,000 people currently stranded at the event, a population surpassing that of Santa Cruz.
As the Chronicle reported, one Burner said that he was stuck with 50 others on the "Burner Express" bus for 16 hours when the entrance gate closed five minutes after they got there early Saturday morning. “This is a disgrace,” he said in a tweet.
On-the-ground reports say that Burners are getting stuck in the mud and praying to the “Playa gods” to cease the downpour and let them go home.
Access to information and communication has been severely hampered — cell phone connectivity has always been notoriously limited at the festival. The webcast was reportedly shut off at 8:00 AM Saturday morning, according to SFGATE, but seems to be back online now.
But that's not the end of it. The festival runs through Monday, and AccuWeather’s forecast shows an 84% chance of rain in Black Rock City on Saturday, accompanied by a chance of thunderstorms through Saturday night and Sunday.
Feature image via Unsplash/Denys Nevozhai.