It’s been a warm September. For those who’ve been out here since early August or before, the heat has seemed relentless: an unending series of hot, still afternoons on the baking Black Rock Desert.
But at this time of year, you never know what tomorrow brings. You don’t even know what the weather will do in an hour. The desert creates its own atmospheric conditions: storms that sweep across the entire West will break up and encircle the playa without ever touching down. Or, they’ll intensify in power as they eddy and swirl, trapped in a rage between the surrounding mountain ranges. The Playa Restoration crew has a detailed evacuation protocol for such situations — like the one that happened yesterday.
There was a rumor that weather was coming, but that’s a rumor we hear often (usually followed by “but it probably won’t hit us”). It wasn’t until the black ridge of clouds crested the mountaintop that we started to worry. And then, out of nowhere, the temperature dropped ten degrees. The wind began to howl. And the desert surface lifted up into the sky.
The crew knew exactly what to do. In the brownout, everyone immediately boarded the nearest vehicle. Head counts were called out on the radio, and all vehicles caravaned slowly through the looming dust toward the wind-protected shoreline. It’s a long, frightening journey from the remains of Black Rock City to the edge of the desert in a dust storm, and everyone takes it seriously. Once the entire crew had landed, roll call was taken. Only when every person was accounted for did anyone leave the desert for the safety of Gerlach.
It’s thrilling and exciting when storms like this hit, but it also makes us nervous. This storm front brings with it chilly temperatures, and several days of forecasted rain. Out here, winter drops in a steely curtain, cold and final. There is every chance that we will no longer be able to access Black Rock City after this storm — meaning that the Restoration work will come to a swift halt, before it is fully completed.
As of this morning, the clouds have parted, and we are headed back out to the desert, bundled up against the sudden chill. Everyone has one eye on the forecast. Can we finish our task and restore the playa to a moop-free state, in time to pass the BLM’s scheduled inspection? Will this year’s inspection be postponed due to weather, as it has been in the past? The next few days will tell.
Moop Map, Day 4 results
On Day 4, the Playa Restoration moop line finally began to traverse the inner, residential streets of BRC. Again, the results are impressively green and moop-free. Could this be the smallest trace Burning Man has ever left? We’ll know soon, but the outlook is good so far. Great job, Black Rock City!
We’re not posting details of what was found in each spot. If you are a theme camp, your Placement representative may have more detailed information for you in a few months (when the entire Moop Map is finalized). Please be patient: we have much more work to do before we can pass detailed information along.
Stay tuned for more, as the moop line marches through the streets of BRC. We’ll keep posting the results just as quickly as we can compile them.