Every year for as long as I can remember, NORAD has been tracking Santa Claus as he flies around the world on Christmas Eve. News stations such as CNN and MSNBC monitor NORAD's data and broadcast it; as of Monday, December 24, 2001, e2 server time 23:39:16, Santa was somewhere near Stonehenge, England.

Starting at 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Christmas Eve, you can call (719) 474-2111 or go to www.noradsanta.com to find out where exactly Santa is at a given point in time. There are also SantaCams to show actual visits from Santa; for this you will need RealPlayer and a fairly high-speed connection. The website has six different languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, and Italian. Last year, it received over 100 million hits and this year it wants to set a record for number of hits in a 24-hour period.

The system for tracking Santa utilizes NORAD's network of satellite and radar systems and intensive analysis at facilities in North Bay, Ontario, and at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. A press release issued by Major General Eric Findley, director of operations at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) explained that Rudolph's bright red nose emitted a "phenomenal infrared signature" easily picked up by NORAD's missile warning satellites.

The three-member international space station crew (Yury Onufrienko, Dan Bursch and Carl Walz) will be monitoring Santa's speed, the performance of the reindeer and the cargo of presents for children throughout the world. Mission Control in Houston will, for a short time this Christmas Eve, become "Santa Control, Houston."

In the press release, the head of NORAD explained that Santa's sleigh will be escorted into U.S. airspace from Canada on Christmas Eve by Canadian CF-18 fighter jets.

"He's an unknown track just like any other. He doesn't have a transponder that squawks 'friend' or 'foe.' "

Thanks to www.noradsanta.com and CNN

The NORAD Santa Report owes its existence to a typo in a local newspaper in Omaha, Nebraska. In the mid-Fifties, a local department store had an actor impersonating Santa Claus, that kids could call on Christmas Eve. (Presumably, the guy told the kids that "he'd be right over" and tell them to get to bed early.)

Unfortunately, the number had one digit wrong, which yuppers, patched the rugrats into NORAD. The somewhat amused personnel, married and with kids themselves (as per regulation, according to then-current psychological theory) took to saying "Well, we're an Air Force base, not Santa Claus, but yes, we're tracking Santa right now." A few winters of this were enough to get everyone's story straight, and to retire the number (except for Santa reports). In 1958, they began releasing live reports to TV and radio stations, casting high-ranking (and often retired) officers as Santa experts, assuring all and sundry that Santa would get a "full NORAD welcome" (of escorting state-of-the-art fighter jets) if seen over US airspace. Creepy, when you think of it...

Every Christmas Eve, my kids would wander around the house looking like they just slammed a case of Jolt Cola. Trying to get them to bed was an exercise in futility, until I came across a local TV News meteorologist using NORADs tracking feed on his weather map. It was the best tool to get the little greedy rugrats to go to bed so Mom and Dad could wrap, assemble, curse at poorly-writen instructions, and curse at forgetting D-sized batteries.

"Look, Kiddies, Santa is on his way here. He won't stop by if you're not asleep!"

Whoever wrote the Omaha article with the wrong phone number, I thank you. This line works better than a mallet to the mullet.

One interesting thing about this year's NORAD feed is they dropped support of Linux/Unix. They used to stream a file with Santa's info, but now you have to have a Windows/Mac computer to track him online. Slashdot has an article with the dubious title of "Santa Hates Linux".

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.