NORAD tracks Santa’s route across the U.S.

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 4:46 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is tasked with defending the airspace of the U.S. and Canada, and since 1955, NORAD has taken on another project every Christmas: tracking the progress of Santa’s sleigh.

Starting at Midnight on Christmas Eve, the eyes of NORAD turn to the North Pole.

“We have a radar system called the “North Warning System,” said Capt. Lauren Ott, Director of Public Affairs with the Alaskan NORAD Region. “So when Santa departs from the North Pole, our tracking system picks up on that, and we track him from there.”

This tracking is vital, as Santa changes up his route every year. “He doesn’t want any very clever little boys and girls catching on to exactly where he is at any given point in time, so he does try and change his route from year to year,” Ott explained.

Once located, Ott says NORAD sees Santa safely across the state. “We scramble our F-22 fighter jets, which are on alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and then those fighter jets escort Santa while he’s in our area of responsibility over Alaska.”

Later, as St. Nick crosses into Canadian airspace, their forces take over. “Depending on where Santa is, whose airspace he’s in, whether it’s over Alaska, Canada or the lower-48, we have a NORAD region that takes over the responsibilities of tracking him and ensuring he gets to where he needs to go safely,” Ott said.

The operation began 66 years ago, when a child accidentally called Continental Air Defense Command Operations in Colorado Springs, and the tradition continues to this year.

Those looking to track Santa’s movements this year can go online or call 1-877- 546 - 6723.

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