BUFFALO, N.Y. – While much of the United States braces for an arctic blast set to bring widespread severe weather this holiday weekend, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) wants to reassure citizens that Santa’s voyage will not be impacted by the storm.
“He’s ready to make his rounds,” Master Sgt. Ben Wiseman said in a phone interview from Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs. “They’re prepared. They’re protected. They’re used to this weather.”
NORAD is a bi-national organization that “defends the homeland through aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America,” according to its website. It has also dutifully tracked Santa’s flights since the 1950s.
“Santa usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west. So, historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia,” NORAD’s website says. “After that, he shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central and South America.
“Keep in mind, Santa’s route can be affected by weather, so it’s really unpredictable. NORAD coordinates with Santa’s Elf Launch Staff to confirm his launch time, but from that point on, Santa calls the shots. We just track him!”
Despite blizzard warnings in effect for some parts of the country, including Western New York, Wiseman said life at the North Pole prepares the reindeer for the flight.
“Santa flies at a high enough altitude that weather does not affect his path,” Wiseman added. “When he heads down to houses, his sleigh and reindeer are acclimated from the North Pole and the reindeer wear extra-heavy gear.”
NORAD offers flight tracking for Santa’s sleigh at noradsanta.org. You can also call NORAD for an update on Christmas Eve by calling 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723) starting at 6 a.m. Eastern. They say you will be able to talk “directly to a NORAD staff member who will be able to tell you Santa’s exact location.”