Tidal mapping software shows Alcatraz escapees could have made it

The Washington Post. By Terrence McCoy. 

One of longest-enduring American mysteries began on a frigid, wind-lashed night in June of 1962. Assembled along the banks of the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was a trio of hardscrabble robbers. They were about to do something that would either make them famous or dead — or both.

The plan involved 50 raincoats jerry-rigged into a rubber raft, a few wooden paddles built from musical instruments and a harrowing two-mile voyage to the mainland. The obstacles: just about everything. The San Francisco Bay is ravaged by some of the strongest, most unpredictable currents around. A wrong move or ill-advised launch time would mean their small vessel would be swept out into sea — killing everyone aboard. So, either desperate, brave or unaware of the dangers, the three men got aboard and started for the mainland.

That was a half-century ago. No one ever saw them again. Many assumed they died out there. Others thought they made it — and beat the FBI. “What happened next remains a mystery,” the FBI said in its telling. “Did they make it across the Bay, get to Angel Island, and then cross Raccoon Straight into Marin County as planned? Or did the wind and waves get the better of them?”

Now, decades later, a team of Dutch researchers have engineered a novel new study based on several interactive models they say solve several of those mysteries. Recreating that night, they say the three men — Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin — could have survived. But only if they left at the right time.

Read the full story here.

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