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The weather was often pretty bad at Burning Man 2000. We had some really glorious weather, too, though. We will show you a bit of both sides of the coin from this year's event. It hit 95° (according to our keychain thermometer) on Tuesday, but that was as warm as it got. It was in the 40s at night and generally not out of the 70s during the day -- if that warm. It was cold last year, too, but this year we had very high sustained winds -- 30 and 40 miles per hour for hours at a time. Almost all of Friday was a whiteout, and all the events scheduled for Friday night were cancelled because of the high winds.
We had some rain during a couple of hours of one morning, but it was not enough to turn the playa to soup, just enough to give you playa platforms and make the floors in the portapotties a slippery quagmire.
A water truck came by and squirted the street in front of us every once in awhile, and with the cold weather, the place looked like an old Montana mining camp in the fall, with everyone wandering around on the muddy streets all bundled up.
It actually snowed in the mountains. We saw the weather report later in Reno, and the snow was limited to higher elevations and did not stay around long. The weather was really strange in 2000!
A playa is a filled in lake bed, surrounded by mountains. In our location, the
playa is shaped roughly like an hourglass lying in a north/south direction,
with the event located just north of the waist of the glass. This shape is also
like a funnel, and all the wind coming from either direction is narrowed down
and focused by the mountains, like narrowing the stream of water coming from a
garden hose. The weather came in from the south and east this year, and you
could usually look through the waist of the mountains and see the weather
coming. In the photograph below, the mountains were still lighted by the sun as
it set in the west, and the black storm clouds were blowing north but missing
us because they were blocked by the mountains.
The thumbnails below show some glorious sunshine, the mountains, and dust storms as they blew through camp. Each is linked to a large image in 32-bit color.
This is a photo of the glorious puffy clouds that Sunday brought us.
Another view of the clouds on Sunday.
Monday brought us glorious sun for much of the day, but the dust started in
first as dust devils like this, then ...
We caught two dust devils on the playa in front of our camp.
A localized blast of dust hit this van as we walked past, and just as quickly ...
... was gone and all was clear again.
The dust storm from the van goes on across the playa.
Another in the series of whiteouts blowing past us on Monday.
Monday evening around sunset was glorious, but as the sun went down, so did our
spirits as dust storm after dust storm rolled past us.
This photo shows an almost complete whiteout. We are south of the wind that
brought in the dust, and it has past us, going to the big playa.
As it happened, we had started cooking supper when the first of a long series of dust storms blew through. We were trying to cook pasta, and the wind kept the flame from heating the water enough to boil it for a long, long time. At each pause in the wind, we would think that was the end, then another dust storm would blow through. Everything was coated in dust, and our normally green cookstove was mottled grey with the powder.
We finally got our meal cooked and ate it holding down our plates to keep them
from blowing away. We then looked at the dirty pots and pans -- to cook
breakfast in the morning, we had to heat dishwater and wash up so we had
dishes. We decided to throw in the towel, put the dirty dishes in a plastic
bag, packed up, and left.
We had a great time, but we also know when it is time to quit. We have decided to bring some food which does not require cooking (MREs are on the list to try before next year), along with warm clothes and goggles. The weather can be tough, so we'll plan for more wind next year. Of course that means it will be hot and still -- we can live with that. Into each life, some sun must shine.
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