The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been among the other U.S. federal agencies that have supported the NORAD Tracks Santa program over the years with publicity, radar tracking assistance, and satellite tracking support. [1] [2]


The Christmas issue of NOAA's Weather Bureau Topics with "Santa Claus" streaking across a weather radar screen, 1958. [3]

In the late 1950’s NOAA’s support to the NORAD Tracks Santa program was primarily ground based-radar tracking. In the late 20th century and into the 21st Century NOAA also maintains a satellite watch of the North Pole for weather conditions and any unusual activity. NOAA's Satellite Command and Data Acquisition Station in Fairbanks, Alaska, is always ready to spot activity at the North Pole. [4] [5]

NOAA Products and Services Help Everyone – Including Santa – During the busy Winter Holiday Season

NOAA has a variety of products and services that are especially useful during the holiday season. Holiday travelers can obtain critical weather information from the NOAA National Weather Service to help ensure a safe and efficient journey. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards units can alert you when threatening conditions arise and make great gifts for your friends and family. The NOAA North Pole Web cam and Arctic theme page provide insight as to what it is like at the North Pole. NOAA even predicts which parts of the country are likely to have a white Christmas. NOAA also helps the North American Aerospace Defense Command (also known as NORAD) track Santa en route on Christmas Eve. [6]

How NOAA Aid’s NORAD In Tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve

NOAA Animated Satellite

A NOAA environmental satellite tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. [4]

On Christmas Eve every year, NOAA helps the North American Aerospace Defense Command monitor weather conditions and track Santa’s journey across the globe. One of the many ways NORAD tracks Santa is by using data from the NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service's two Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites. Because these satellites stay at a fixed spot on and provide a complete view of the Earth's surface, GOES are ideal for monitoring large-scale environmental phenomena (i.e., meteorology, hydrology and oceanography) and search and rescue efforts. Most satellite images seen on the nation’s broadcast media and The Weather Channel are produced by GOES satellites. Usually, the infrared images they gather are "animated" to show the progression and movement of storms. On Christmas Eve however, the infrared sensors onboard these satellites also pick up the heat radiation off of Rudolph's red nose, thus allowing NOAA to assist NORAD in tracking Santa’s progress on Christmas Eve. [6]

NOAA’s National Weather Service Support - Santa Claus Spotted on KIWX Radar

Even in the 21st Century, NOAA’s U.S. National Weather Service still assists the NORAD Tracks Santa program with weather forecasting and ground-based radar tracking.

For example, on a recent, Christmas Eve, meteorologists at the National Weather Service Northern Indiana office (KIWX) detected a strange object on their radar screens shortly after midnight on Christmas Eve night. A screen capture of the radar can be seen in the first image below. A fast moving and unusual red blip was first detected in southeast Elkhart county, near the town of Millersburg, around 12:11 am EST. [7]

NW Indiana Radar XMAS Eve

Screen capture of Northwest Indiana on Christmas Eve. [7]

Upon closer interrogation of the radar data and using a special zoom feature of the WSR-88D weather radar, meteorologists were able to clear the blurred image and to their amazement saw Santa Claus with his reindeer and sleigh moving across the area. Santa and his reindeer can clearly be seen in the second image below. [7]

Zoom Picture Santa Claus

Screen capture of Zoom Picture of Santa Claus in NW Indiana Radar on Christmas Eve. [7]

Due to the fast speeds that Santa travels and his constant landing and taking off from roof tops, it is difficult and rare to capture him on weather radar images. More sophisticated tracking techniques are used by NORAD to track Santa around the globe. [7]


External Links

NOAA Products and Services Help Everyone – Including Santa – During this busy Holiday Season, December 21, 2006

Santa Claus Spotted on NOAA’s NWS KIWX Radar