‘Conserve food and water’: Chaos at Burning Man as storm traps 70,000 festival-goers

World News

Police told Forbes they were “working on getting everybody out” of Burning Man, as the festival’s desert grounds turned into a muddy and wet mess after a downpour brought traffic to a halt and triggered calls for food and water conservation for the more than 70,000 “burners” in attendance, all of which will likely be subject to more rain this weekend.
The annual festival started August 27 with favourable weather conditions that later turned sour, drenching attendees with showers and turning the dry desert muddy. Image: Supplied
Key Takeaways
  • The gate and airport in and out of Black Rock City—the site where Burning Man is held—remained closed as of Saturday morning, with organizers saying in a post on X no driving is permitted except for emergency vehicles.
  • Attendees have been asked to shelter in warm, safe places and conserve food, water and fuel as nightly temperatures are forecast to dip to about 53 degrees.
  • Videos and photos from social media show the Burning Man site caked in puddles and sticky mud, though the conditions haven’t deterred some attendees from taking part in the usual festivities.
  • Portable toilets cannot be cleaned or emptied due to the disruptive weather, according to The Guardian.
  • The weather conditions have effectively stopped festival-goers from departing Black Rock City, hindering plans of many attendees who usually leave the festival on Saturday nights.


What To Watch For

A representative for the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over Black Rock City, told Forbes Saturday that law enforcement is “working on getting everybody out” in light of forecasts that predict showers and thunderstorms into Sunday. The representative, who did not disclose their full name, did not share further details and said there was not yet a timetable for aid efforts.


The festival has received some pushback from climate activists despite its “leaving no trace” principle being one of its tenets, with some detractors pointing to the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the event. This year was no exception when it came to pushback from protesters, who created a roadblock on the path to Burning Man. The blockade was short-lived, as officers from the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribal police department disbanded the protesters and drove through the protest signs and trailer that made up the blockade.

Key Background

Burning Man has been held annually since 1986 and receives tens of thousands of attendees each year from around the world. The festival features art installations and music, and prioritizes an off-grid experience for attendees. The last time the more than week-long event was hit with rain was 2013, when abrupt storms brought rain and hail to Black Rock City and left some 165 burners stranded, though the wet weather did not persist for as long as it has during this year’s installment of Burning Man.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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