Tropical storm Hilary puts Burning Man under water

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By Dan Sears

It looks a lot more like Flooding Man this year.

Attendees headed to Burning Man, a community of tens of thousands of people who gather to build a temporary city called Black Rock City (BRC) in the Nevada desert, were warned by organizers that the gates may remain closed for several days due to flooding from Tropical Storm Hilary. 

Before the event officially begins on August 27, scores of artists, organizers and attendees arrive in the Black Rock Desert early to construct the metropolis. Organizers said on Tuesday that the gate would be closed until Wednesday. The event runs through Monday, Sept.4. 

“If you were planning to travel to BRC with a Work Access Pass before then, delay your plans,” organizers said in a social media post on Tuesday.

“DO NOT drive to Gerlach, you will be turned around — there are no rooms available.”

A follow-up social media post said: “Weather permitting, we’re preparing to open the Gate tomorrow (Wednesday 8/23).”

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The flooding seemed to have dissipated as of Wednesday morning.

TikToker Gabriel Contreras posted a video to his account today showing dryer conditions. “Burning Man conditions 8/23 7:30 am…city should be open today for camps with WAPs to start building🤞,” he wrote in the caption of the video, which features him biking in the desert.

Days ago, people on site of what attendees call “the playa” shared several videos of the flooding and mud on TikTok and Instagram.

“Is the hurricane coming…. 😵‍💫 😓,” wrote TikToker Mariasoleeeamore, as the caption of the video showing the muddy desert site. Since being posted four days ago, the video already has over 177,000 views. 


In this aerial picture taken on August 21, 2023 vehicles drive through floodwaters following heavy rains from Tropical Storm Hilary in Thousand Palms, California.
In this aerial picture taken on August 21, 2023 vehicles drive through floodwaters following heavy rains from Tropical Storm Hilary in Thousand Palms, California.
AFP via Getty Images

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies, shows the "Burning Man" in Black Rock City, Nevada, on August 29, 2022. This year the desert is covered in water before the event begins.
This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies, shows the “Burning Man” in Black Rock City, Nevada, on August 29, 2022. This year the desert is covered in water before the event begins.
Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Tech

“Oooof this is concerning. The desert doesn’t absorb. It’s like a pool being drained onto a tile floor. Stay safe! 🙏❤️🙏,” wrote once concerned commenter. 

“Will there be boating on the playa? 😳 stay safe! ✨,” joked another.

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The official Instagram account for the artists responsible for building this year’s temple structure, called The Temple of the Heart, also posted a photo showing the normally dried-up lake bed, covered in rainwater. 


The desert was covered in water, prompting event staff to close the gates.
The desert was covered in water, prompting event staff to close the gates.
TikTok/mariasoleeeeamore

The gates to the city will open Wednesday, according to event organizers.
The gates to the city will open on Wednesday, according to event organizers.
TikTok/mariasoleeeeamore

These were the chaotic scenes as revellers leaving the Burning Man festival were stuck in eight-hour traffic jams in the Nevada desert.
Attendees leaving Burning Man last year were stuck in eight-hour traffic jams in the Nevada desert.
CJ Yu/LIFESTYLOGY/TMX/Mega

Burning man is a temporary city built in the middle of the Nevada desert.
Burning Man is a temporary city built in the middle of the Nevada desert.
AP

The home of this year’s Temple of the Heart is not for the faint of heart. Burning Man is no stranger to harsh weather conditions such as dust storms, heat above 100 degrees and swarms of mysterious bugs. Traffic jams leaving the event sometimes surpass eight hours.

Although tickets to the event, which normally are a struggle to get, are widely available this year, with several being sold for prices far below their $575 price tag. Tickets as low as $130 are being sold online. 

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