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The Four Corners Fugitive Search- the Largest Manhunt in Western History

The High Desert of the Colorado Plateau


May 28th is high summer in the Southwest. With the scorching heat of midday and the potential for near freezing temperatures at night, the American Southwest can be an inhospitable place at this time of year. Desert dwellers know that there is a time to move and a time to rest in the desert summer. Movement during mid-day is a poor idea- morning and evening are the best times to move, when temperatures are relatively low. Mid-day should be reserved for rest. And a person must be prepared for the desert in the summer, or face potentially disastrous consequences. This includes being physically prepared, and of course having proper equipment, food, and plenty of water.

Summer in this part of the country is very different than summer in most other places. Daily temperatures can easily reach 100 degrees and higher, then drop as little as 20 degrees or as much as 60 degrees or more at night. Average temperatures recorded in the town of Aneth, located about 15 miles south of Cross Canyon, for May are 80 degrees for the high and 49 degrees for the low. These averages are derived from climate data recorded form 1959 through 2005. Average temperatures vary somewhat throughout the region, but the amount is negligible. During the summer of 1998 daytime temperatures were above average. Law enforcement officers had to contend with temperatures of 100 degrees and higher during their searches.

Many weeks may pass in mid-summer without clouds to offer a reprieve, let alone a chance for rain. Average annual precipitation recorded in Aneth is just over 8 inches. Most of this is accumulated in the early spring and fall, with some added during winter snowfalls. Average annual precipitation recorded for the month of May is less than ½ inch.

After dark temperatures would be comfortable for movement, but with the new moon on May 25 th, 1998 and the night sky dark, movement at night, while offering some cover from being spotted, would be tough in the darkness. The moon, now waxing, would not be full until the 10 th of June. Thus arises our first question- did the trio plan their operations so well as to take advantage of the darkness of a moonless night if it was needed for escape?

Back to Top
Page 1- Introduction-
Page 2- The Crime- The Sequence of Events
Page 3- Disappearance
Page 4- The High Desert of the Colorado Plateau
Page 5- The Area Mapped by the Fugitives

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