A historic downtown El Paso building and an iconic El Paso symbol have new life.

The famed Blue Flame building -- nicknamed so because of the teardrop shaped structure at the very top – is back in the weather forecasting business.

Now owned by the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso under its new name, Housing Opportunity Management Enterprises, the 18-story downtown skyscraper located at 304 Texas Avenue has been renovated and converted into a mixed-use development with 120 apartments for low-income residents.

The restored and reactivated "flame" at the top of the building has gone through modification of its own that includes an all-new lighting system powered by AccuWeather, a worldwide weather forecasting service. The company created a program just for the iconic symbol that syncs with the new lighting system daily.

When the flame is Blue, No Change is Due

Posted by El Paso History on Saturday, April 3, 2010

Originally built in 1954, the building was the headquarters of El Paso Natural Gas for over thirty years. The blue flame represented the gas company's flame logo and also served as a weather beacon.

For decades, El Pasoans could get a general idea of what the weather the next day would be like depending on the color it illuminated at night.

The Rhyme

When the flame is BLUE, no change is due.
When the flame is RED, warmer weather's ahead.
When the flame is GOLD, cooler weather foretold.
A FLICKERING flame means wind, snow or rain.

The gas company came up with the rhyme as a memory technique to help people remember what each color represented. Because El Paso’s weather is relatively steady year-round, it mostly shined blue -- hence the building's unofficial moniker.


5 Things You Didn't Know about the Blue Flame

• The flame is 21-feet tall, made of Plexiglas and stainless steel, and sits atop a 23-foot steel tower
• It’s lit by 5,385 LED lights
• The entire structure weighs more than 5 tons.
• It has sat atop of that building since 1955
• It did not have magical weather forecasting powers. An operator would call the National Weather Service each evening to determine what color to light the flame

[Factoids culled from 1999 El Paso Times 'Tales from the Morgue' article]

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