The .8 inches of rain that fell on Burning Man Friday afternoon (Sept. 1) and early Saturday morning (Sept. 2) have left the event at a relative standstill.
Burning Man officials have closed the event’s gates, making it impossible to enter and exit. All vehicles, other than emergency transport services, have been told to not move. The event’s airport is also currently closed.
Rain turns the ground of Burning Man, an arid desert playa, into thick, sticky mud, making it difficult for vehicles to move without getting stuck. The forecast in Nevada’s Black Rock City, which is what the temporary city of Burning Man is called, calls for a 60% chance of rain between Saturday afternoon and Sunday at 5 p.m.
An information official at the information tent on-site says that the ground typically needs 12-24 hours after the last rain to become drivable. The source says that their best guess for when the roads may reopen is Monday or Tuesday, depending on the weather over the next 24 hours or so.
The current population of Black Rock City is roughly 73,000, based on details shared in the city’s information booth. Burners have been advised to conserve food and water in the event that those inside the city will not be able to leave for several days. The ice tent is currently limiting people to buying one bag only.
Approximately 20,000 people arrived to Black Rock City via the Burner Bus, which transports people from cities including San Francisco and Reno. The information authority notes that these busses will return on a first-come, first-served schedule when roads reopen.
Diplo was at Burning Man, but managed to leave — apparently with Chris Rock — and then hitched a ride from a fan. “just walked 5 miles in the mud out of burning man with chris rock and a fan picked us up,” he tweeted Saturday afternoon.
While the man traditionally burns at the event on Saturday night, an information official says that this burn is unlikely to happen today, given the wetness and the fact that emergency vehicles and fire trucks cannot currently drive out to the man structure.
Inside the city, spirits are relatively high. Music is playing from many camps, with dance parties taking place under tents and in the mud itself. Many of the people out walking around the city are barefoot, with others covering their shoes in plastic bags or wearing just socks.
Information is being disseminated to Burners via the city’s pair of radio stations. Burners have also been advised that there will likely be a citywide cheer when the gates reopen.
Billboard will keep reporting from Black Rock City as is possible.