AC by virtue of alternating, passes though zero current flow and zero voltage 120 times a second in this country. When you have an arc, you are passing an electric current though a plasma and that requires that you keep it hot and ionized. It is the current that keeps the plasma hot and ionized.
As a switch contact opens, initially the distance between the contacts is under the flash over voltage and an arc of plasma is formed. This arc requires current to keep flowing though it to be maintained and as the contacts separate further the resistance of the plasma path increases, lowering the current. Eventually in AC circuits, the voltage needed to maintain the plasma path starts to cycle under this minimum value for longer and longer times and current starts to fall off on average. This falling current, makes the arc plasma start to fade and will eventually extinguish the arc during the times when the current and voltage cross the zero level.
DC has no regular fall off in the plasma because it is always there, full on, full current. This means that switching similar voltages and currents in DC requires additional distance over AC. DC starts the arc and builds the plasma without stopping and only the resistance of the plasma as the distance increases is what will cause the current to get lower and lower until the arc extinguishes. There are no "off" times like there is in AC so the arc exists over a larger distance.
ALSO, on very high voltage AC circuits, it is possible to disconnect the circuit during a zero crossing. In that case, assuming you can get the contacts far enough apart to avoid flashing over, there never will be an arc to start with. Even though it's mechanically difficult to move things that fast, they sometimes do this kind of thing to suppress the arc in AC. This doesn't work in DC because there is never a zero crossing.