Thousands of people who had spent days at the Burning Man festival packed their tents on rain-swept mud and slopes and began to leave the sprawling festival site in remote northwestern Nevada.
But it was a messy, uncertain exodus. The ancient lake basin where the annual festival is held began to dry up and harden Monday after days of rain, but drivers said they still encountered foot-deep puddles and mud bogs along the five-mile route from the camp. Paved road.
“You had to pull over,” said Christine Ray, 50, a physical therapist from Idaho who did just that in her truck. On her way, she saw maroon vehicles with no luck. “There were cars with half the wheels stuck.”
Even in normal years, it can take up to 12 hours to leave Burning Man as thousands of cars and trailers crawl off the desert playa and down the congested two-lane road. This year, organizers urged people to consider postponing their departure until Tuesday to avoid creating an epic traffic jam.
On Monday, Black Rock City — the name of the site in the federal states where the annual celebration of art and music takes place — was a hive of activity as people packed sleeping bags, stoves and mud tents into their trunks before heading out. Some left excess water, food, and camping supplies for festival stayers — called burners.
Some decided to remain hopeful that Monday night’s improved weather forecast would allow the culmination of the Burning Man festival to be postponed twice: 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 may be available on Monday..
By Sunday night, the atmosphere around Black Rock City had turned milder 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 the 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 heavy flooding in the Las Vegas area as well.
Attempts to escape from the site are spreading more and more on social networking sites 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.
Fausto Zapata, 51, of Los Angeles, said, “This is the best Burning Man I’ve ever attended, and I wouldn’t trade it to leave sooner. “People found the community expecting 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.