Tracking Santa: Nigadoo man helps NORAD

New Brunswick man to join forces tracking Santa at NORAD

'It’s amazing: when you look at the picture it almost looks like a missile launch'

Nigadoo native Claude Hache will again be helping NORAD track Santa on Christmas Eve.

A northern New Brunswick man is getting ready for his second Christmas tracking Santa with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

After a "fantastic" first experience, Chris Haché, a member of the Canadian Navy assigned to NORAD, is again scheduled to answer phone calls from children with questions about Santa's whereabouts on Dec. 24.

Speaking from an air force base in Colorado Springs, Colo., Haché on Wednesday told Information Morning Moncton that NORAD tracks the Man in Red using the bright red nose of Santa's reindeer Rudolph.

In this file photo, volunteers take phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house during the annual Norad Tracks Santa Operation. (Brennan Linsley/File/Associated Press)
"It's amazing: when you look at the picture it almost looks like a missile launch. It is that incredibly bright," said Haché, who is from Nigadoo. "It's really tough to miss that one."

Although storms can complicate the process, he said, NORAD has land-, air- and satellite-based radars, as well as infrared radars, and can switch between the different systems.

Still, NORAD doesn't have all of the answers.

It can't, for example, see which toys are in Santa's sleigh or access his naughty and nice lists.

"That's even more confidential than we can look at," Haché said.

Nor can it say exactly how Santa makes his big trip in just one day.

"Really, there's an element which we can't explain — we just attribute it to pure Christmas magic."

Santa's 'complicating factor'

Although Santa gives NORAD an idea of where he'll be, and when, NORAD can't always pinpoint his exact location.

Typically, Santa delivers gifts to homes between 9 p.m. and midnight – unless, of course, the children are still awake. In these cases, he has to backtrack, Haché said, describing this as a "complicating factor."  

Santa's sleigh as seen from NORAD's tracker. (Norad)
"If children want to make it really easy for Santa, all they have to do is try to be in bed by nine o'clock and everything will be perfect."

They can also help Santa in another way.

Sometimes, Santa's sleigh slows down – something NORAD can see – and NORAD's "best theory" is that's because the reindeer have run out of fuel.

"You can tell when children have put out some reindeer food, because then they speed right back up," Haché said.

Following along with NORAD

Thanks to NORAD, there are several ways to track Santa's Christmas Eve journey. You can call (toll free) 1-877-446-6723 (HI NORAD) to reach a volunteer or visit noradsanta.org, which has games, videos, Christmas music and a Santa tracker countdown.

NORAD also has an app (available on Windows, Android and iOS), as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+ accounts.

With files from Information Morning Moncton