Gateway Arch lightning strikes happen several times a year

6:23 AM, Jun 6, 2013   |    comments
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By Heidi Glaus

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - It stretches 63 stories into the St. Louis sky, spans 630 feet on the ground and draws millions of visitors year after year.

"It's the face of the city and it's how the whole world knows our wonderful city," says Ann Honious, Supervisory Park Ranger at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse.

It's also photographed more than anyone could possibly keep track of. However, over the years a few have captured a rare sight prompting the question of how often that big stainless steel structure is struck by lightning.

"Our maintenance division thinks we probably get struck by lighting several times a year. The only way we know it gets struck by lightning is if we end up with some sort of electronic failure," explains Honious.

Oddly enough it's actually pretty safe during a storm and has never suffered serious damage.

"We do have lightning rods on the top, there's five of them and they are about three to four feet tall," Honious adds.

As a matter of fact, the Gateway Arch typically stays open during thunderstorms.

"It's perfectly safe in a storm with lightning and everything it's usually the high winds that causes us to close," she goes on to say.

Even though it's designed to withstand 150 mile per hour winds. So sure it's tall, but it's also an impressive piece of architecture we should all be proud of.


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