A Little Rain, a Little Dust

Black Rock City got a pretty good drenching in the late afternoon on Monday, shutting down all vehicular movement, forcing workers to put down their tools, and generally bringing things to a halt as Burning Man moves toward opening day.

The weather forecasts were predicting a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon, but we’re used to seeing the rain cells move up and around us. This time, thick dark clouds and heavy winds made a beeline for the city, and the downpour hit hard for about 30 minutes. Hail also pelted the ground for a short period.

The Point One road was shut, and the call went over the radio to shelter in place, with no driving. Even a little rain turns the wispy playa dust into a sticky, gummy mess that sticks to tires, shoes and anything else that tries to travel over it.

Minx checked out the scene at the Center Cafe
Minx checked out the scene at the Center Cafe

There were consistent high winds and heavy dust in the wake of the rain, but by 5:30, the skies had brightened and the roads in the city, while still pockmarked with puddles, were beginning to dry out. But Haul Road, from the asphalt of Route 34 to the entrance of the city, still had a good amount of standing water.

There were no initial reports of significant injury or damage from the wind and rain, although there were some issues reported at the Catacomb of Veils site. A fair number of PortaPotties were knocked over, too.

Earlier in the day, the wind was considerably stronger than it has been in recent days, with frequent whiteouts. Cobra Commander said at the morning meeting that weather forecasters were expecting 40 mph gusts, and the forecasts were correct.

Here are some pics of the wind, the dust and the rain:


About the author: John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person in a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients. I've also taught a little bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on the San Mateo coast, just south of San Francisco in California.

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