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Thousands Stranded at Burning Man as Storm Slams Festival, Turns Desert to Mud

Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to shelter in place at the Burning Man festival in the remote Black Rock Desert after a storm wreaked havoc in the area. Festival attendees have also been advised to conserve their food, water, and fuel. The local airport is closed, and only emergency vehicles are allowed to drive into or out of the neighboring city.

Festival organizers first sounded the alarm Friday morning when they tweeted, “There is a 60% chance of showers throughout the day Friday, with total precipitation for the day up to a quarter inch. Winds on Friday will be lighter than Thursday but still higher than average.” Hours later, organizers added, “Driving is currently not permitted in the city. Please hunker down in your camp till things dry out.”

The Twitter account for the festival traffic has since offered a steady stream of updates and warnings about leaving the grounds. The latest weather update also notes that more rain is expected in the area on Sunday. The most recent update from the festival states, “Do not travel to Black Rock City! Access to the city is closed for the remainder of the event, and you will be turned around.”

DJ Diplo posted video of his own experience in the elements at this year’s festival, noting that he’d just walked five miles through mud to get out of Burning Man — and was picked up by comedian Chris Rock.

The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the federal land that hosts the festival each year, has also issued its own statement about the crisis. The BLM explained, “Officials from BLM and the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office have closed ingress to the Burning Man event effective immediately and for the remainder of the event. Participants inbound for the event should turn around and head home.”

The statement continued, “Rain over the last 24 hours has created a situation that required a full stop of vehicle movement on the playa. More rain is expected over the next few days and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa.”

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