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Burning Man 2023 Mired in Mud

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This 26 August video shows Mother Nature had already left a wet footprint on the playa where the Burning Man event was being constructed for 2023. By the time the first rains landed directly on the Burning Man location, the playa was primed to become a quagmire of sucking clay mud, hard to navigate on foot, impossible in vehicles.


More than half an inch of rain and possibly close to 1 inch of rain fell at the festival site on 1 September 2023, turning the ground into a sloppy mess, leaving tens of thousands of attendees stuck in foot-deep mud, with no working toilets and more rainfall predicted. The desert saw two to three months’ worth of rain in a 24-hour period on Friday into Saturday, creating a situation requiring a “full stop of vehicle movement on the playa,” according to festival officials. Even an inch of rain is rare for this Nevada region, and the ground is unable to absorb the water without creating runoff and mudflows.

This year’s Burning Man event only runs through 4 Sepember 2023.

“Take a look at the dark rings around the mountains surrounding the playa and you’ll see where the waterline was,” Will Chase, who handled communications for the festival wrote in 2014, the last time significant rain occurred there. “And during wet years, water flows from up north and fills — very thinly, it’s cool and creepy — some or all of the playa basin.”

The rain which has swamped the Burning Man event this year is actually falling on an ancient lake bed, site of the former Lake Lahontan which existed approximately 15,000 years ago.

Burning Man 2014 – Rain Storm, 25 August 2014

Additional Data —

A playa appears as a flat-bottom depression found in interior desert basins, periodically covered by water which slowly filtrates into the ground water system or evaporates into the atmosphere, causing the deposition of salt, sand and mud along the bottom and around the edges of the depression. Playas are among the flattest known landforms. Their slopes are generally less than 0.2 metre per kilometre, so when filled with only a few centimetres of water, many kilometres of surface may be inundated. It is the process of inundation which develops and maintains the near-perfect flatness so characteristic of these arid-region landforms. They require interior drainage to a zone where evaporation greatly exceeds inflow. 

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    Total 2 comments
    • thatdogwillbite

      Sounds like they had a great time.

    • Howard West

      Lots of overflowing port a potties

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