Sometimes a few stakes and rope are not enough

On Wednesday, August 21st, a very powerful wind front blew through the beginnings of Black Rock City. There was some warning from weather services, and the staff communicated what was coming to artists and staffers. Most art crews were prepared, and afterwards the ARTery conducted a survey of the art projects for damage.

Many staff camps dove into action in the initial whiteout, strapping down tents and shade structures, despite the fact that most were secured the previous night. But this very powerful storm had higher winds and bent structures that only shook before.

So here’s the lesson: plan carefully for the prevailing winds, and use very long stakes and more strapping and ropes to secure your structures than seem necessary. You’ll be glad you did.

Last night's storm was only a warm up.
Last night’s storm was only a warm up.
The wall of dust signals an incoming dust storm. Hurry for shelter and be ready to help your neighbor's camp.
The wall of dust signals an incoming dust storm. Hurry for shelter and be ready to help your neighbor’s camp.

A dome at the Desert Expedition Module was twisted and collapsed during the Tuesday night storm.
A dome at the Desert Expedition Module was twisted and collapsed during Tuesday night’s storm.
A piece of broken hexayurt by the trash fence
A piece of broken hexayurt by the trash fence following Wednesday’s storm.
These bits of colorful tape are survey and placement flags ripped from their stakes in the city. There are hundreds out on the trash fence. Placement has a lot of work to redo.
These bits of colorful tape are survey and placement flags ripped from their stakes. There are hundreds out on the trash fence. Placement has a lot of work to redo.
Portaplaya's camp before the squall.
Portaplaya’s camp before the squall.
Portaplaya's camp after the big squall.
Portaplaya’s camp after the big squall. Thankfully Gate campmates took it down before it could break free and roll over other tents.
Carports from outlets like Costco and Walmart can fail, even with multiple compression straps
Carports can fail, even with multiple compression straps

There is another moderate storm warning about one hour from the writing of this post. Always on our toes out here…

About the author: portaplaya

Todd Gardiner, aka "portaplaya", is a professional photographer in Seattle and a long time documentor of Burning Man. After years of working with CameraGirl, he moved on to documenting the event for various other teams, such as the ARTery. Back in Seattle he was part of the regional arts group, Ignition Northwest, acting as a member of the art funding council. A perennial volunteer, he is a five-time Black Rock City Ranger, a past theme camp laborer, has done his time with DPW, and is currently a supervisor for Exodus Flagging; in addition to being a photographer every single year. Some say he is just an obsessive collector of official-looking laminates to wear to high school reunions. Either way he spent time working for others ever since his first year at Burning Man in 2001.

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