After rain at the Burning Man festival in northwestern Nevada left tens of thousands of people stranded for days in a sea of slush and mud, organizers said Monday that people would begin evacuating by midday as the grounds dried out.
In a statement on Burning Man’s website, organizers said The main road leading in and out of the ancient lake bed, where the annual celebration of art and music is held, was too wet and muddy for vehicles Monday morning, but they hoped it would be passable by noon Pacific time.
Even in normal years, the process of leaving the festival — known as the exodus — can take up to 12 hours as thousands of cars and trailers crawl off the desert playa and onto the congested two-lane road. This year, organizers urged people to consider postponing their departure until Tuesday to avoid creating an epic traffic jam in the remote desert.
But some did not wait. On Monday morning, a convoy of jeeps and trucks were trying to leave ahead of any official announcement.
An improved weather forecast Monday night may allow the twice-postponed climax of the Burning Man festival: the burning of a human-tall wooden effigy.
The delay was attributed to muddy conditions and the inability to transport heavy fire protection equipment to the site of the burn. Officials posted on social media Attached to the festival. The burn was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but was postponed to Sunday, then again to Monday night.
Weather is expected to remain dry and hot across the region on Monday, but a low pressure system could bring light rain Monday night into Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service said.
The event takes place in Black Rock City, a temporary community that pops up every year in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada. Alternative routes are being developed and will be available on Monday.
By Sunday night, the atmosphere around Black Rock City had turned softer and more subdued than Saturday, with attendees urged to stay put and conserve food and water. Many of the dances and bar structures were removed during a dry lull on Sunday afternoon, and by evening, participants, who call themselves Burners, were walking around the still-soaked grounds, many with plastic bags over their shoes. Oatmeal-thick slime.
The transient city hosts more than 70,000 people each year and is a three-hour drive from the nearest airport, which is more than 100 miles away in Reno. This year’s festival started on August 27.
Officials are investigating the death of one participant, but said it does not appear to be weather-related.
The festival site has been flooded since Friday, creating dangerous and muddy conditions for those trying to leave. Other parts of Nevada were also hit by fast-moving thunderstorms and flash flooding over the weekend. There has been severe flooding in the Las Vegas area as well.
Attempts to escape from the site are spreading widely on social networking sites including Video posted by music producer Diplo. He said on Saturday that he and comedian Chris Rock walked five miles through the mud before being carried away by fans. The video shows the men and others sandwiched in the back of a pickup truck.
Another burner, Neal Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown University and a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, was among those who hiked six miles to the nearby town of Gerlach. He and others trekked with essentials in their backpacks, bare feet with plastic bags over socks, then stuffed into boots or shoes.
On Sunday afternoon, a White House official said President Biden had been briefed on the situation and that administration officials had been in contact with state and local officials.
Reno Mayor Hilary Schieve said Sunday on social media The city is working with regional partners to prepare for the mass evacuation of Burning Man. Some parking lots at the local convention center were available for use, he said.
But for a festival that prides itself on self-confidence and self-reliance, some attendees took issue with the confusion.
“It was the best Burning Man I’ve ever been to,” said Fausto Zapata, 51, of Los Angeles. “People found community in anticipation of disaster. If at the end of the day Burning Man is about serious self-confidence, it came out in more serious ways this year.
Anna Betts And Amanda Holbuch Contributed report.
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