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A blue flame at 626 E. Wisconsin Ave. means no change in the weather.

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The bricks on the building are lighter near the top, which makes the building seem taller and brighter.

Ask OMC: What's the color code for the Wisconsin Gas flame?

Here at OnMilwaukee.com, we pride ourselves in being Milwaukee experts. Since it's literally our job to eat, sleep and breathe all things Brew City, we get lots of questions from our readers.

This is where we answer them.

In the "Ask OMC" series, we take your questions, big or small, and track down the answers. Send your query to askomc@staff.onmilwaukee.com. Be sure to include your name and location, and we'll consider it for our next installment.

This week, the question comes from Lisa B. in Oak Creek, who sent the following query: "It's getting cold out and my memory is fading. What's the color code for the flame on top of the Wisconsin Gas Co. building Downtown?"

That's a common question, Rachel. Before we answer, a little background is in order.

Although the building was sold to a developer more than five years ago, most Milwaukeeans still refer to the building at 626 E. Wisconsin Ave. as "The Wisconsin Gas Building." Designed in the Art Deco style by Eschweiler & Eschweiler and completed in 1930, the building is 250 ft. tall and has 20 floors. The first 2 ½ stories of the exterior are granite, but the rest of the building is constructed of varying shades of brick. The upper floors are lighter, to give the building a taller appearance.

In 1956, a weather beacon shaped as a natural gas flame was added to the top building. The neon flame is 21 ft. tall and adds a unique splash of color to the Milwaukee skyline.

Known as the "weather flame," the light changes color along with the weather forecast for the following day.

Gold means the weather will get colder. Red means it's going to warm up. Blue means the weather will stay the same. When the light flashes, precipitation is expected.

If you need help remembering all that, try focusing on this rhyme:

"When the flame is red, warm weather is ahead.

When the flame is gold, watch out for cold.

When the flame is blue, there's no change in view.

Where there's agitation, expect precipitation."

Talkbacks

bitsko | Dec. 8, 2007 at 10:41 a.m. (report)

As I recall, it has to do with the colors of a flame-maybe a chemistry thing?

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funhouse | Dec. 8, 2007 at 10:05 a.m. (report)

Rhymes are often perplexing to me also.

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Milly | Dec. 8, 2007 at 8:55 a.m. (report)

Interesting and slightly perplexing that blue doesn't mean cold since red means warmth. Just seems like common sense, but perhaps there is a reason for the decision.

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