About 70,000 Burning Man attendees in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert were stuck in the mud this weekend after torrential rains this past Friday evening.
Eventgoers usually drive or bike from location to location throughout the designated desert area. However, the difficult conditions caused by the heavy rain pooled water and created thick mud that was difficult to move around in. Thousands of attendees attempted to leave at the same time and some vehicles became stuck in the thick mud. As travel in and out of the festival was shut down, organizers asked attendees to conserve food and water until the weather cleared up.
“You might be much happier hanging out in camp with your friends than sitting in a static line of cars for many hours. Wake up refreshed on Tuesday and hit the road then,” the Burning Man account tweeted yesterday.
Aerial videos and images show the traffic jam from the many attendees trying to leave the Nevada desert in their vehicles:
Burning Man is a yearly event where monied attendees pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket to dance around in the Nevada desert. At the end of it all, they burn the figure of a “man,” hence the name. It attracts celebrities, influencers, and some of the most annoying billionaires (aka Elon Musk). The event is often plagued by high temperatures and even sand storms.
Conditions this year proved to be dangerous, and a 32-year-old attendee died late last week during the festivities. The man was identified as Leon Reece. He was found unresponsive on Friday evening when the area was experiencing heavy rainfall, The Daily Beast reported. At first, his death was described as unrelated to the weather according to local authorities. But the downpour delayed efforts to send for help, Jerry Allen, the Pershing County Sheriff said in a statement.
Climate scientist Daniel Swain explained in a thread on X that the reason why the weather in this event made headlines is mainly due to the number of attendees that were affected by it. But he did confirm that there is a climate angle.
“The question of whether #ClimateChange is increasing the odds of #BurningMan washouts is, quite frankly, not too high on my list of climate concerns. But is it plausible? Yes, probably—the heaviest downpours will increase almost everywhere in a warming climate,” he tweeted this weekend.
Though it is difficult to correlate this one event to the climate crisis, climate change is causing precipitation events to drop more rain. According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, precipitation in the U.S. has “increased at a rate of 0.20 inches per decade.”
“These sorts of heavy summer rainfall events in the region are expected, as the well-known southwestern summer monsoon is expected to yield larger amounts of rainfall in a warming climate,” Michael Mann, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science, said according to Wired.
Videos uploaded to Twitter show cars driving through mud as attendees try to leave the event:
See how the event was rained out, and check out TikTok videos from on the ground at Burning Man in the slides ahead:
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