Weather monitors being installed after tram hit by lightning |

Weather monitors being installed after tram hit by lightning

Ryan Graff
Post Independent Staff Writer

GLENWOOD SPRINGS- Passengers were stranded on the Iron Mountain Tramway June 16 after lightning struck the mountaintop facility.

The lightning strike destroyed 40 of the tram’s magnetic cable sensors and shut down the tram’s electric motor, said tram designer and co-owner Chuck Peterson.

Passengers on the tramway were unloaded using the tram’s backup diesel motor. Passengers spent just under an hour on the tram while operators waited for wind and lightning to die down, said Peterson.

He said lightning struck the canopy that extends from the Exclamation Point building over the top tramway terminal, arcing to the bullwheel. Eyewitnesses also reported seeing lightning strike the tramway cable, he said.

Peterson said tram operators were attempting to empty the passenger cabins at the time of the strike. But they got short notice because the lightning storm approached from the northeast rather than the west, which is normal.

“It’s our standard to shut the lift down when we see lightning,” he said.

Many tramway safety systems are already in place. Following the strike, however, operators decided to add two weather monitoring systems.

One system will monitor lightning strikes within a 200-mile radius, said Peterson.

The other system will monitor the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration station in Grand Junction so operators can watch approaching storms, said Peterson.

Both systems should be in place by the end of the week.

Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 535

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