Thousands of Burning Man attendees trudged in sloppy mud on Saturday — many barefoot or wearing plastic bags on their feet — as flooding from storms swept through the Nevada desert, forcing organizers to close vehicular access to the counterculture festival. Revelers were urged to shelter in place and conserve food, water and other supplies.
Vehicular gates will be closed for the remainder of the event, which began on Aug. 27 and was scheduled to end on Monday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the Black Rock Desert where the festival is being held. Organizers urged festivalgoers to conserve their food, water and fuel.
The Black Rock City Municipal Airport, a temporary pop-up airport used by festival goers every summer specifically for Burning Man, was closed as of Saturday evening, the festival said.
“All event access is currently closed,” the festival said, and no driving was permitted except for emergency vehicles.
The Reno Gazette Journal reported that organizers started rationing ice sales and that all vehicle traffic at the sprawling festival grounds had been stopped, leaving portable toilets unable to be serviced.
Officials haven’t yet said when the entrance is expected to be opened again, and it wasn’t immediately known when celebrants could leave the grounds.
More than one-half inch of rain is believed to have fallen on Friday at the festival site, located about 110 miles north of Reno, the National Weather Service in Reno said. There was a chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday night and Sunday, the festival said on its website, with a quarter-inch of rain forecast for Sunday.
Superstar DJ and music producer Diplo shared a video to social media Saturday afternoon that showed several people riding on the back of a truck leaving the festival, one of whom appeared to be comedian Chris Rock.
“Just walked 5 miles in the mud out of burning man with chris rock and a fan picked us up,” Diplo wrote.
Spencer Brown, another DJ,posted to social media Saturday that there was “absolutely crazy flooding right now, but I, along with my camp, am safe with plenty of water, food, and shelter. Turning off the Starlink to conserve power.”
Many people played beer pong, danced and splashed in standing water, the Gazette Journal said. Mike Jed, a festivalgoer, and fellow campers made a bucket toilet so people didn’t have to trudge as often through the mud to reach the portable toilets.
“If it really turns into a disaster, well, no one is going to have sympathy for us,” Jed said. “I mean, it’s Burning Man.”