Weather on the playa is often violent and unpredictable. Dust storms, high winds, freezing temperatures, rain, we get it all out there. It’s impossible to be overly prepared when it comes to the elements.
Here’s more weather information than you want to know, whether you need it or not!
- The Weather Underground for Gerlach A good weather page that provides current weather, 3-day forecast, plus extended forecast for Gerlach, Nevada (or any other city in the U.S.). Gerlach is to be the closest city to the Burning Man site with a local weather forecast available.
- National Weather Service’s Nevada Page Also provides current weather plus three day forecast for all Nevada cities that track local weather. Highlight the city of choice (Gerlach), click, and you’re there.
- The Real Time Weather Data satellite page Beautiful current satellite photos. Select WMC for an image centered on Winnemuca.
Whiteouts & Playa Dust
Make sure you carry your particle/dust mask and goggles with you when you venture out on playa! The Black Rock Desert can be subject to sudden bouts of fierce, unpredictable weather, and the playa’s alkali, chalky surface can kick up at any time (the playa contains alkaline gypsum and silica dust, which can be tough on the lungs). Cars, mutant vehicles, bikes and regular old foot traffic can make dust swirl around in a flash, so you’ll be thankful you’ve got your mask with you!
Dust storms prowl the playa and can produce instant whiteouts too. The desert wind can whip up to speeds exceeding 75 mph in an instant, picking up everything and hurling it miles down the playa or smack into your neighbor — tents, chairs, card tables, ice chests, you name it. Prolonged whiteout conditions are unlikely, but you should be mentally and physically prepared for such occurrences. If you’re caught in a whiteout:
- When the wind comes, seek immediate shelter. Now’s the time to use that dust mask and goggles you brought.
- If you’re far from shelter, sit down, turn your back to the wind, cover your face, and wait it out.
- Be alert for moving vehicles.
- If you are driving a vehicle, stop and wait for the whiteout to pass. You will not be able to see where you are going and could injure yourself or others.
- Weight the interior corners of your tent. Rebar makes excellent stakes but the ends must be capped or bent into a candy cane shape to prevent foot or leg injuries.