A Monday image from Burning Man webcam showing inundated playa at Black Rock City.
A Monday image from Burning Man webcam showing inundated playa at Black Rock City.

The weather forecast for the rest of the week at Burning Man: perfect. The National Weather Service says the weather will be clear and hot — temperatures in the mid-80s today ranging into the low- to mid-90s later in the week. Nighttime temps: in the high 50s.

That forecast follows an atypical start to the annual gathering in north-central Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Thunderstorms swept across the site Monday morning, flooding the desert playa that’s transformed every year into Black Rock City. The wet weather turned the site into muck. Since Burners headed to the site Monday would be driving across the temporarily impassable desert floor, event organizers asked police to shut down access to the site Monday; the route was reopened early Tuesday. A Burning Man live webcam (embedded below) shows the site has drained.

After Monday’s road closure, in Wadsworth, on Nevada Highway 447 just north of Interstate 80 east of Reno, Burners were forced to find alternate sites to park overnight. According to the Associated Press:

… In Reno, hundreds of “Burners” were forced to overnight on the Wal-Mart blacktop. Nearly a hundred other RVs pulled into the parking lot of the Grand Sierra Resort casino, across the street.

“We’re just trying to stay positive,” said a woman from Oakland, who identified herself only as “Driftwood,” and was hanging out with some first-timers from Texas. “Positivity can raise everything up.”

Most took the rain delay in stride, and sure enough, organizers announced after midnight that they could roll onto the lake bed Tuesday.

“You take it as it comes,” said Mark Vanlerberghe, who pulled into the Wal-Mart in an RV he drove from San Jose. “I guess that’s part of being a Burning Man: Don’t get stressed about it.”

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that many other Burners headed to Pyramid Lake, on the large Paiute tribal reservation northeast of Reno. Here’s how the paper describes the scene:

“We’re going to make good of a bad situation,” said Shaft Uddin, also of London, attending his second Burning Man. “I hear Pyramid Lake is beautiful and apparently there is going to be a big party there and potentially a massive orgy.”

By 2 p.m. Monday, yellow Volkswagen buses, countless recreation vehicles and at least one school bus painted to look like a cheetah with whiskers on the hood packed Block House beach at Pyramid Lake.

Close to a dozen of those first arrivals took off their clothes and entered the lake. Within an hour, a park ranger drove up and asked them to put their clothes back on.

“How can you not know that it is not OK to be naked in public?” the ranger asked.

The ranger then asked an Israeli man named Otto to leave.

“They told me to leave,” a then-clothed Otto said. “I said, ‘I’m sorry’ and he told me I could stay.”

  • Leslie Nope

    The video is terrible, starts with the sound of fighting squirrels


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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