Authorities in Nevada are investigating one death after a storm slammed the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, leaving thousands of Burning Man festival attendees stranded in the desert. 

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it is investigating one death, but did not release the identity of the deceased person or the suspected cause of death, according to The Associated Press (AP). 

Over a half an inch of rain hit parts of northwest Nevada over the weekend, according to Mark Deutschendorf, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. This exceeds the September rainfall average of 0.21 inches of rain in Reno, which is around 141 miles south of the festival.

The heavy rainfall prompted shelter-in-place warnings for those at the festival. In a message Sunday at 9 a.m., the festival’s organizers said many vehicles were getting stuck in thick mud and advised festivalgoers against driving their vehicles.

“Some vehicles with 4WD (four-wheel drive) and all-terrain tires are able to navigate the mud and are successfully leaving,” a statement from the Burning Man Project said. “But we are seeing most other types of vehicles that try to depart getting stuck in the wet mud which hampers everyone’s Exodus. Please do NOT drive at this time.”

The term “exodus” refers to the festival’s conclusion and exit process. 

Sgt. Nathan Carmichael with the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office told CNN Sunday morning that a little more than 70,000 people remained stranded on Saturday. He told CNN some people left the site by walking out, though most RVs were stuck in place. 

The annual counterculture festival brings around 80,000 artists, musicians and activists to Black Rock Desert, north of Reno, Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said the entrance to the event would remain closed for the remainder of the event, which was scheduled to end on Monday. 

A large wooden effigy was supposed to have been burned Saturday night in an event known as the “Man Burn,” but was postponed to Sunday. In a post on X, organizers said rainy and muddy conditions and “an inability to move heavy equipment and fire safety onsite,” further postponed the event to Monday night.

A White House official said President Biden was briefed on the situation and administration officials are in touch with state and local officials. Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware that people at the festival should pay attention to local officials. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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