Posted on

Dust storm nearly derails marquee event at Burning Man

Dust storm nearly derails marquee event at Burning Man

With just hours to go until Burning Man’s namesake event — igniting the wooden “man” effigy— a dust storm hit the Black Rock Desert in Nevada and threatened to derail the nine-day-long festival. 

Around 4 p.m. on Saturday, Burning Man’s official handle tweeted that the playa, the affectionate nickname for the desert area where the festival takes place, was experiencing “whiteout conditions.” The account informed would-be travelers that the main gate had been closed and declared bluntly, “do not drive.”

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matthias Gafni reported that gusts were measured at 35 mph during the wind event. The National Weather Service categorizes 35 mph winds as “near gale” force. (SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently of one another.)

National Weather Service meteorologist Amanda Young explained to the Chronicle that the wind event occurred when a cold front hit the area.

Visibility was virtually nonexistent on images taken from Burning Man’s official webcam.

Reports from the festival claimed that the dust was thick enough to block out the sun. Not that it stopped the burners from having a good time.

Intense weather events are nothing new for Burning Man. Daytime highs have been hitting triple-digits all week long, and an even more intense dust storm hit the festival in 2018, with winds topping out at 60 mph. Indeed, many burners might say the brutal conditions are part of the appeal. A thick coating of dust on one’s clothes and skin is seen as a rite of passage for new burners. 

That being said, given the intense exposure and remoteness of the festival, powerful wind events have the potential to be extremely dangerous. 

Tiktok user @johnnydiggz caught a massive dust storm on camera en route to the playa just last month. 

@johnnydiggz #burningman #duststorm #blackrockcity #burningman2022 ♬ Highway to Hell – AC/DC

Thankfully, for the tens of thousands assembled, the dust storm died down as the afternoon turned to evening, and the ritual burning of the man was able to go on without an issue. 

A screengrab of the ritual burning of the man on Saturday in Nevada. The image was captured via Burning Man's official livestream. 

A screengrab of the ritual burning of the man on Saturday in Nevada. The image was captured via Burning Man’s official livestream. 

Motorbikematt / Webcast Team

FILE - Participants make their way through dust at Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada on Sept. 2, 2015.

FILE – Participants make their way through dust at Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada on Sept. 2, 2015.

Andy Barron /The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP

Posted on

May 21 storm sixth costliest weather event in Canadian history, Insurance Bureau of Canada says

Close sticky video

Article content

The storm that toppled trees and hydro poles in Ottawa caused more than $875 million in insured damage as it swept from southern Ontario into Quebec May 21, according to initial estimates.

Article content

Damage is estimated at over $720 million in Ontario and $155 million in Quebec according to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc., the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said in a release.

The bureau pointed to the widespread destruction, deaths — at least five in the Ottawa area and ten across Ontario —  and widespread power outages.

“The derecho event ranks as the sixth largest in terms of insured losses in Canadian history and is a sobering reminder of the increasing risk climate change poses to communities across Canada,” IBC said in the release.

“IBC continues to advocate for a National Adaptation Strategy that will result in tangible short-term measures that improve Canada’s climate defence. Governments at all levels must act with urgency to prioritize investments that reduce the impact of these severe weather events on families and communities.”

Article content

Eight of the costliest disaster in Canadian history have happened since 2011.

Top 10 natural disasters in Canada by insurance payouts (2021 dollars)

  1. Fort McMurray wildfires, 2016, $4 billion
  2. Eastern ice storm, 1998, $2.3 billion
  3. Southern Alberta floods, 2013, $1.8 billion
  4. Alberta hailstorm, 2020, $1.2 billion
  5. Toronto flood, 2013, $1 billion
  6. Ontario-Quebec windstorm, 2022, $875 million
  7. Toronto flood, 2005, $780 million
  8. Ontario windstorm, 2018, $695 million
  9. British Columbia flood, 2021, $675 million
  10. Slave Lake fire, 2011, $600 million

Wind damage is usually covered by home, commercial property and auto insurance policies, IBC said.

The bureau was on the ground in Ottawa after the storm and said residents with insurance questions can reach them at 1-844-227-5422) or ConsumerCentre@ibc.ca and find more information about wind damage online.