Each year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) hosts a special hotline and website where children can track Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve. The special tracker, called NORAD Tracks Santa® (NTS), is now live online at noradsanta.org. This year, NTS is also available through mobile devices, Cortana, and OnStar.
Starting at 12:01 a.m. MST on Dec. 24, NORAD will live-stream Santa’s preparations on the NTS website. After takeoff, NORAD SantaCams will show Santa as he makes his way around the world. At 4 a.m. MST, phone lines will open for anyone who wishes to know Santa’s location. The toll-free number to track Santa Claus is 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723). You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. At any time on December 24th, Windows Phone users can ask Cortana for Santa’s location, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to find Santa.
NTS relies on NORAD’s radar-based North Warning System to track Santa’s movements throughout the night, from the moment he leaves the North Pole on Christmas Eve until he returns home. This powerful radar system includes 47 global radar installations, satellites, SantaCams, and even American and Canadian jet fighters who want to see Santa in action. NORAD emphasizes, however, that Santa does not disclose his route beforehand and will only stop at a child’s house to deliver gifts when he or she is asleep. However, officials with NORAD report that they might now know how Santa can travel to millions of homes across the world in 24-hours. “NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do… to Santa [his trip] might last days, weeks or even months.”
The NTS began by mistake on Christmas Eve in 1955 after a Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted Santa’s number. Instead, the ad gave children the number for the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations hotline. But, CONAD Director of Operations Colonel Harry Shoup rallied his staff to use the resources at their disposal to track Santa throughout the night and gave updates to children as they called in.
When Canada and the United States joined forces to create NORAD in 1958, the new bi-national task force took over Santa-tracking operations. In the years since, NORAD staff, family, and friends continue this important mission each Christmas Eve. These volunteers answer phone calls and respond to emails from children all around the world who are curious about Santa Claus’ whereabouts on Christmas Eve.
Throughout the rest of the calendar year, NORAD is responsible for detecting and monitoring a variety of airborne activity within or near North America, like missiles, space launches, and airplanes. The Command uses the same advanced global technology to monitor the skies as it does to track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.