U.S. and Canadian Air Forces pledge to track Santa’s route during snowstorm
On Catholic Christmas Eve, a storm with strong winds and snowfall struck the United States. The storm left over 1 million people without electricity and caused flight cancellations and train disruptions in the United States.
Arctic winds and a snowstorm that disrupted power and transportation in the United States will not prevent Santa Claus from making his annual Christmas Eve flight, Reuters reported, citing Ben Wiseman, a spokesman for North American Air and Space Defense Command (NORAD, a joint service of the U.S. Air Force and Canada).
“We have to deal with a polar vortex from time to time, but Santa lives in one year-round at the North Pole, so he’s used to that kind of weather,” Wiseman said.
Santa does not file an official flight plan, and the military never knows exactly when he will depart and the route, a command spokesman said. That said, the journey can be tracked through the NORAD-supported project’s website and social media accounts.
Wiseman added that once Rudolph the reindeer (legend has it that he is first in the sled and keeps Santa’s sleigh on track) turns on his shiny red nose, the military can track his location with infrared sensors. According to a NORAD spokesman, U.S. and Canadian fighter pilots accompany Santa as he flies over North America, and he slows down to wave at them.
NORAD, based in Colorado, has been providing images and information about Santa’s travels on Christmas Eve for 67 years. The tradition of tracking him began in 1955. Back then, a Colorado newspaper mistakenly printed the phone number of a department store where children could call and talk to Santa. The number listed belonged to the Continental Air Defense Command, and the officer on duty who took the calls assured the children that Santa was already in the air and would deliver all the presents as scheduled.
On Dec. 23, a storm hit the U.S. with freezing temperatures, high winds, snowfall and icy conditions, CNN reported. The bad weather led to power outages for more than 1 million people, disruptions in train traffic and the cancellation of more than two thousand flights. At least nine people were killed in incidents related to the storm. The network points out that the states are experiencing their coldest Christmas Eve in decades, with an Arctic “bomb cyclone” bringing a sharp cold snap and snow even to the southern states.