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Fox News Weather Center

NORAD celebrates 60 years of tracking Santa's Christmas flight on radar

For the 60th year, the world's greatest effort to follow Santa's flight around the world continues this Christmas Eve.

The tradition began in 1955, when a Sears Roebuck & Co. in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had advertised a Santa phone line but incorrectly published the number.

Children who thought they were calling Santa Claus ended up calling the operations hotline of the former Continental Air Defense Command, the predecessor of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Col. Harry Shoup, the operations director, told his staff to scan the radar for signs of Santa then provide reports to the children.

NORAD, which was founded in 1958 by the U.S. and Canadian governments, continues the tradition by answering children's emails and phone calls. It also tracks Santa's flight online.

Volunteers and staff workers of NORAD use radars, webcams and satellites to monitor Santa's whereabouts on Christmas Eve. NORAD said the heat from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer's famous nose helps them track the sleigh by satellite.

In North America, Santa will receive military escorts throughout Canada and the United States.

While Santa will have warm and dry weather in the eastern U.S., when he gets to the Northwest he should see some of the coldest weather yet, AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

"Santa might have challenges delivering presents in the Southeast with some thunderstorms to navigate, from Maryland down though to Alabama," Duffey said. "While there could be a few showers near the Gulf Coast, above-normal temperatures should lead to smooth sailing for Santa across the region."

It will be colder than normal in the North Central states and the Southwest, with plenty of snow over the southern Rockies, Duffey said.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, Santa will find dry conditions on Christmas Eve across the majority of the United Kingdom as Storm Eva, the fifth officially named storm by the Met Office, departs off to the north and east, AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards said.

"Norway and Sweden will get some rain and even snow. France and Germany could see a shower or two. Southern and eastern Europe should be largely dry for Santa's arrival," Richards said.

Over 1,000 volunteers at NORAD handle more than 100,000 thousand phone calls from children around the world every Christmas Eve.