The Continental Air Defense Command will be keeping a close eye on Santa's sleigh tonight and so can you.
Thanks to improved 3D Google Earth technology, children and families all over the world can watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer lead Santa's sleigh from take off at the North Pole to destinations all over the planet.
For more than 50 years NORAD has tracked Santa's flight each year. The celebrated tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted a telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the NORAD commander-in-chief's operations hotline. The C=commander had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called the number were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
Decades later Santa is now tracked using the Internet and NORAD employees, family and friends volunteer each Christmas to personally respond to phone calls and e-mails from children world-wide.
NORAD uses high-tech systems to track Santa including radar, satellites, video cameras and fighter jets. Tracking begins in the North Pole through a powerful radar system strung across the northern border of Canada. On Christmas Eve the system searches for indications Santa has left the North Pole. Once he has lifted off satellites equipped with infrared sensors detect Rudolph's red nose heat signature.
The third tracking system uses a network of high-speed digital cameras positioned at many locations around the world. The fourth system is visual confirmation from fighter jets welcoming Santa to North America and beyond. Pilots get the thrill of seeing Santa and his famous reindeer - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.
Once all this information is collected it is placed into Google Maps and Google Earth so that families all over the world can track Santa.
To contact NORAD on Christmas Eve, call 877 HI-NORAD (447-6723) to talk directly to a NORAD staff member who will tell you Santa's exact location. You can also e-mail NORAD at email@example.com and you can also track Santa on your phone by searching ‘Santa' on Google Maps.
Reindeer cleared to enter California
California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Whiteford granted a 24-hour permit clearing all brand inspection and health requirements for nine reindeer slated to visit California tonight and in the early morning hours of Sunday.
The permit application was filed in person by a rotund, jolly man with a red suit and a white beard. The signature on the paperwork reads "K. Kringle."
Brand inspections and health requirements help veterinarians prevent the spread of animal disease. The law also mandates that all animals entering California be individually identified. The nine reindeer named on the permit are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.
The permit was granted under two conditions: the nine reindeer may not co-mingle with other reindeer in the state of California; and the visiting reindeer may not be used for breeding purposes while in the state.
"It is our pleasure to issue the permit to Mr. Kringle and do our part to ensure another successful trip," said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. "We wish him safe travels, clear skies and plenty of milk and cookies as he and his reindeer make deliveries to the good children of California."
To contact Jonathan McCorkell e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.