PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) is tracking Santa’s Christmas Eve journey around the globe, and you can follow along at www.noradsanta.org
For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command, have been following Santa’s annual flight. The tradition started in 1955 because of a misprinted phone number in a Sears Roebuck & Co. ad in a Colorado Springs-area newspaper.
Instead of dialing Santa, children ended up connecting to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations hotline. Col. Harry Shoup, the director of operations at the time, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa’s location so he could update the children.
In 1958, the newly-formed NORAD took over the tradition. Each year more than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and Department of Defense civilians volunteer their time to answer phone calls and emails to keep children updated on Santa’s progress. Corporate sponsors fund the Santa-tracking project.
According to NORAD, Santa usually starts his trip at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and moves west. He usually visits the South Pacific first, then moves on to New Zealand, Australia and Japan before moving on to Asia, Africa and Western Europe. The United States, Mexico, Central and South America round out his journey, but Santa’s route can be affected by weather.
NORAD uses the powerful North Warning System radar to monitor for indications that Santa Claus has left the North Pole. Once Santa has taken to the skies, NORAD follows his journey via satellites in geo-synchronous orbit. In 1998, when NORAD first put its Santa-tracking program on the internet, it introduced the Santa Cam network which is only used one day each year. The high-speed digital cameras are pre-positioned at locations around the world to capture images and video of Santa Claus and his reindeer as they make their Christmas eve flight.
In addition to following along at www.noradsanta.org, you can call the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at 1-877-446-6723 to speak with a volunteer who can provide Santa’s exact location. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow @noradsanta on Twitter or NORAD Tracks Santa on Facebook.
NORAD’s normal duties are to provide warning of impending missile and air attacks and safeguard North American air sovereignty.
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