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Roads Begin to Reopen for Tens of Thousands of Burning Man Attendees Trapped for a Third Day in Nevada Desert; Four Astronauts Touch Down in Florida; Can Football Ever Be Safe Again? Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired September 05, 2023 - 04:00   ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: What`s up, lovely people? Hope you had an awesome three-day weekend and a great slabor day, aka, Labor Day, the federal

holiday traditionally considered the official end of summer. And it`s a day that honors and recognizes U.S. workers` contributions and achievements.

Now it`s time for us to put in that work right here on CNN 10.

First up, thousands of people were trapped at the Burning Man festival. The enormous week long desert campout festival is set to focus on art,

community and self-expression. It`s held annually in a remote location called Back Rock City, a temporary community about 100 miles north of Reno,

Nevada, an event already known for testing attendees` self-reliance took on a whole new meaning this week when more than 70,000 people were left

stranded due to harsh conditions in the desert, the event was essentially shut down and attendees were told to shelter in place and conserve


The area received two to three months of rain in just a 24 hour span. And the conditions created this impossible terrain for festival-goers to


CNN national correspondent Camila Bernal has more.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The decades-old gathering in the Black Rock desert is no stranger to extreme heat, but

rarely like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re sinking. I think barefoot`s the way to go.

BERNAL: Two to three months worth of rain falling in just 24 hours, turning the desert ground into thick cement like paste.

Festival-goer Dean Zeller from Santa Monica, California, shot this video with his ankle deep into the mud.

And from the air, you can see the standing water, muddy roads and countless RVs, vans, trucks, and other vehicles parked and helpless.

ANDREW HYDE, STRANDED AT BURNING MAN FESTIVAL: When it was really wet, you couldn`t do anything. You just lived here. There`s really no way to walk

miles, you know, to get out of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We couldn`t leave, like we were stuck. Basically people couldn`t could barely walk, let alone ride their bikes or drive out

of here. And so that started getting a little scary.

BERNAL: Many of those who tried to drive away were stuck. The situation so concerning that even President Joe Biden was briefed on the matter.

While organizers have often described the festival as a self-expression event where harshness meets creativity, few expected it to be this bad.


WIRE: But why? How did just 0.8 inches of rain lead to tens of thousands of festival goers getting trapped?

Our CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam will break down the science to help us understand why this became such a sticky situation.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: What you`re looking at here with our 3d visualization tool is the difference between desert top soil and our earthy

top soil that you and I might use to plant our vegetables in our garden, for instance. So we call that loam right, and water, as it rains, easily

absorbs into that loam or that earthy top soil.

But when you`re talking about rain, that continuously falls within the desert, it doesn`t take much to start pooling up and then mixing in with

that clay, creating that very muddy cement like mixture that ultimately costs so many thousands of people to get stuck and stranded in the desert

of Nevada.

I mean, just take a look at some of these visuals, the -- aerial visuals really speak for themselves. I mean, look at these cars, you can see the

muddy tracks and you can see completely abandoned vehicles because they simply cannot drive. It is too thick. It is too difficult to navigate that

type of cement, like mixture that is a combination of the water, not absorbing back into the ground.

We call that in impermeable surface and the simply the amount of rain that fell in such a short period of time. Here`s the radar. And, you can see

there are no flood watches in effect for the BlackRock basin. This is known as a playa. In fact, we`re going to dry things out rather quickly here over

the next 24 hours.

So as soon as we get the sun to rise this morning, we`ll get that typical evaporation that would happen within this playa that you see, just north of

empire, that shading of white, that is a dry basin across the desert. And, it normally evaporates the water when we get that break in the rain, but

that simply didn`t happen because the rain continuously fell over the same areas for a period of time on Friday and Saturday.


WIRE: Ten second trivia:

The International Space Station and many other satellites orbit within what layer of the Earth`s atmosphere?

Troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, or thermosphere?

Thermospherians, put your hands up. This layer extending from about 53 to 375 miles above Earth is home to the ISS.

Outside of this past weekend`s college football season openers, on Monday, we had a different type of touchdown -- four astronauts returning from

space. After a six-month stay on the International Space Station, members of the crew six mission aboard the SpaceX crew dragon capsule actually made

splashdown when they landed off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.

The astronaut`s mission was run as a joint operation between NASA and SpaceX and they were coming in hot. Literally, the spacecraft traveled at a

speed of more than 17,000 miles per hour on its way back to earth and the exterior of the capsule heated to about 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. I`m

sorry, what, wouldn`t I be burning up inside? Good question.

Yes, the crew was protected at a comfortable temperature. Well, below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next up, a project that I am pumped to share with you. This Friday, at 9:00 Eastern on CNN, I have an hour-long documentary coming out. It`s on "THE

WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" and it`s called "Hard Hits: Can Football Be Safe?"

I played nine years in the NFL. I have a titanium plate and four screws in my neck, so I know how dangerous the game can be, but I was blown away

learning about the technology and innovation being used to make the game safer now and for future generations. Could advancements in the game one

day help keep players safer by predicting injuries before they happen?


WIRE: Can your data potentially predict when a player might get an injured?

CHRISTINA MACK, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Absolutely. That`s culture change.

WIRE: Christina Mack is an engineer and epidemiologist. She presents data to the NFL`s competition committee, the group that reviews league rules and

any potential changes every year.

MACK: You rank teams over five years where the Super Bowl trophies are.

WIRE: Wow.

MACK: It`s a winning strategy. Your players are more available. They`re performing where they want to be performing and they`re not getting re-


WIRE: That`s just some of the NFL`s big data crunching, from high tech body scanning that`s being used at the NFL combine.


WIRE: To tracking body movements, to optimize performance, and detect imbalances that could potentially lead to injuries, to sensors on the

bodies inside helmets and mouth guards.

Turn `em into a video game.

JEFF R. CRANDALL, BIOMECHANICAL ENGINEER: We`re having you go through a set of drills where we`ve tracked all your motions.

WIRE: That`s biomechanical engineer and lab CEO, Jeff Crandall and his Biocore research team.

All right, I`m all sensored up. And the idea is that they will be able to see, am I favoring any part of my body? Are there any anomalies,


Stadiums in the league this year will have dozens of these cameras that will be able to track players` movements. That way, if there isn`t injury

on game day, they can go back and look at the data before that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bottom line is with all the information that`s available to us, camera angles, or sensors or injury data, we`re going to get to the

place where we`ll understand risk, and maybe someday be able to predict with some degree of certainty, which players are more likely to be injured

than others. We can intervene before it happened.


WIRE: Ask for me, how did I do more than a dozen years after I left the NFL?

CRANDALL: We see both knees and the left hip it`s causing too much load to go through your knees.

WIRE: I didn`t tell you anything on me that was bothering me, but each day when I wake up, neither knee feels great. And my left hip is off.

CRANDALL: The good news is if we look at you over we`ve normed, all the players relative to the NFL population, you`re right in the middle. So

you`ve sort of still got it.

WIRE: Still got it?

CRANDALL: Still got it.

WIRE: Okay. All right.



WIRE: Our final story of the day is a little cheesy, actually very cheesy - - 80 workers in a tiny Mexican town of Pijijiapan breaking the Guinness World Record for world`s largest string cheese ball. It weighs 1,230

pounds, and it took more than 1,500 gallons of milk to make this monster it`s actually made out of Oaxaca cheese. The look on the people`s faces is

so sweet, I can`t even bear it.

Well, I hate to be cheesy, but life`s good to y`all, and today is actually National Cheese Pizza Day, and a lot of shops out there actually have some

pretty good deals. So take advantage if that`s your thing.

All right. Our special shout-out today goes to North Hartford High School in Pylesville, Maryland. You have a pizza my heart.

I`m Coy Wire and I`ll see you tomorrow.