No government shutdown can keep NORAD from tracking Santa's journey on Christmas Eve

The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its top-notch radar system will tell you when to get your cookies and milk ready for Santa's arrival.

Posted: Dec 24, 2018 12:30 PM
Updated: Dec 24, 2018 12:44 PM

It's a 63-year-old tradition that not even a partial government shutdown is able to stop – NORAD is tracking Santa once again this year.

A big part of that operation happens right at Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome with the Eastern Air Defense Sector.

Senior Master Sgt. Jeremiah Martinez, of the 224th Air Defense Squadron of the Eastern Air Defense Sector joined Katrina Smith for NewsTalk on everything you and your little one might need to know about Santa this year.

NORAD takes the guessing out of it

The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its top-notch radar system will tell you when to get your cookies and milk ready for Santa's arrival.

The organization otherwise tasked with detecting aerospace activity has turned its attention to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve -- tracks his sleigh and nine reindeer as they glide through the night to every child's house -- well, the ones he's deemed good for the year.

It's a tough task, but NORAD says they are the "only organization that has the technology, the qualifications and the people to do it."

And even if the federal government has shut down, NORAD announced Friday they'll continue to track Santa's journey. Military personnel and more than 1,500 volunteers will field calls on Santa's location and continue the decades-old tradition.

How it started

In 1955, when Colorado-based Sears Roebuck & Co. misprinted a telephone number in an advertisement for kids wishing to talk to Santa, they sent dozens of children calling the Continental Air Defense Command center instead.

Colonel Harry Shoup didn't miss a beat. He and his staff spent the night answering calls and telling hundreds of kids where Santa was flying over during the night -- starting a tradition. In 1958, shortly after NORAD was created, they picked it up and have kept it going for decades.

Each year, hundreds of volunteers stop by the Santa Tracker command center to take calls from kids. Former First Lady Michelle Obama volunteered her help, answering Santa questions for more than six years. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump also participated in phone calls in 2017.

How they know where he is

NORAD's radar system is installed in more than 47 locations across Canada and Alaska. The agency's satellites, more than 22,000 miles above Earth, use infrared sensors to track heat and help the organization track missile launches that may be directed at North America.

But on Santa's big night, NORAD's radar system is on alert for his take off. Once Santa has kicked off his journey from the North Pole, the organization begins using its satellites' infrared detectors to spot Rudolph's bright nose and keep track of the big journey.

To make sure he has a smooth trip, NORAD's jet fighters often escort Santa and his nine reindeer during his time over Canada and the United States.

How you can also track Santa
NORAD's Santa Tracker allows anyone in the world to see where Santa is flying during his journey. But the organization says it never knows when Santa will stop at each house and can only guarantee he'll pay his visit once children are asleep.

His route?

He usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and heads west, NORAD says. His first stops include the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia. From there, Santa flies up to Japan, through Asia, across Africa, Europe, Canada, the US, Mexico and finally Central and South America.

For those wondering how Santa manages to visit so many countries in one night: "NORAD Intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do," NORAD says on its website. "His trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months."

Take a peak at Santa's journey here.

You can call NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at 1 877-HI-NORAD (1 877-446-6723) or send them an email at noradtrackssanta@outlook.com.

One thing the organization won't have the answer to is how the big jolly guy manages to slide down chimneys. NORAD says they're still trying to figure that out.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1650303

Reported Deaths: 47719
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens2118128784
Kings2109509118
Suffolk1628183086
Nassau1486692918
Bronx1445195881
Westchester1078572101
New York1039223906
Erie654191603
Richmond572011579
Monroe52679991
Rockland38628889
Orange37059720
Onondaga32452630
Dutchess22387408
Albany20890332
Oneida19735478
Niagara15324312
Broome14870336
Saratoga11970145
Schenectady10842178
Ulster10069228
Rensselaer9039132
Putnam836986
Chautauqua7336123
Chemung6440130
Oswego600289
Ontario580188
St. Lawrence553285
Steuben5509137
Cayuga537988
Jefferson480663
Sullivan475559
Herkimer4561107
Wayne447364
Cattaraugus442076
Genesee4411118
Madison384885
Clinton361026
Livingston355056
Tompkins345742
Columbia340096
Fulton333784
Montgomery3190107
Cortland316760
Allegany290481
Warren284155
Wyoming282049
Tioga280656
Greene264871
Orleans245181
Chenango243969
Otsego235543
Washington234352
Franklin208712
Lewis206730
Seneca162053
Delaware151933
Essex134226
Schoharie121012
Yates101426
Schuyler86812
Hamilton2842
Unassigned221140
Out of NY0192
Syracuse
Mostly Cloudy
22° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: 22°
Binghamton
Partly Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: 16°
Mostly Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: °
Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: -4°
Feels Like: °
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Submit your Mutt Madness Picture through March 10th
March into Beautiful Skin Giveaway
2021 Golfer's Paradise Card - 21 Courses for only $99.99
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve