NORAD Santa tracker unaffected by government shutdown

/ CBS News

The government may have partially shut down, but the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is still tracking Santa Claus' journey across the globe. The tracking has already begun and NORAD will be fielding calls throughout the day and night from children, trying to pinpoint exactly where Santa is and when he will make his long awaited arrival.

NORAD has been following Santa for decades with the help of nearly 1,500 military personnel and volunteers. In the past, some of Santa's helpers included former first lady Michelle Obama, who answered calls for more than six years running. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump assisted NORAD during the 2017 holiday season.

Maj. Andrew Hennessey of the Canadian military said NORAD began tracking Santa 63 years ago and started as a local advertisement in a local Colorado Springs newspaper.

"It was a Sears administration printed a phone number that was meant to be calling Santa directly and it ended up calling our operations director at the time. He took a call from the child, thought it was a prank and kind of figured out what was going on. Quickly after that, and 'NORAD Tracks Santa' continues that tradition today."

This 2014 image shows first lady Michelle Obama answering children's calls to the NORAD Santa Tracking program on Christmas Eve. White House Photo

As of Monday afternoon, Santa was spotted traveling over Saudi Arabia, Hennessey said.

"Generally, he starts around the international dateline, goes to New Zealand, Australia, Asia pacific, Europe and finally into North America, where we will escort him with NORAD fighter jets in Canada and the United States. We're locked right onto him with our radars in the systems we use every day to defend North America."

For those looking for live updates on Santa's journey, NORAD offers live updates by phone, Facebook, Twitter and email. If you call 877-HI-NORAD, someone will give you an update.

First published on December 24, 2018

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle Obama

NORAD's Santa tracker unaffected by government shutdown

As of Monday afternoon, Santa was spotted traveling over Saudi Arabia

updated 13M ago

North Korea ordered to pay $500 million in U.S. student's death

Warmbier was a college student who visited North Korea with a tour group when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor

updated 34M ago

Militants attack government building in Kabul, killing at least 29

A suicide bomber and extremists attacked a government building in an eight-hour-long siege

2H ago

GoFundMe refunds $400K to donors in alleged scam

GoFundMe says it has refunded more than $400,000 back to donors taken in by the story of a New Jersey couple and a homeless veteran

4H ago

Cruise ship rescues fishermen who were stranded for weeks

The sailors were saved Friday evening between Grand Cayman and Jamaica

4H ago

The lawsuits that could bankrupt the opioid industry

The attorney behind a multibillion-dollar tobacco settlement in 1998 has turned his attention to the opioid epidemic. And he wants drug companies to pay

Dec 17

Cleaning up the plastic in the ocean

Discarded plastic is piling up around the world and pooling in the ocean. Sharyn Alfonsi reports on the problem's deadly consequences for wildlife and what can be done to stop it

Dec 16

Tesla CEO Elon Musk: The "60 Minutes" interview

Musk opens up to Lesley Stahl about Twitter, pot, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Model 3 and Tesla

Dec 9

Study examines effects of screen time on kids

"60 Minutes" goes inside a landmark government study of young minds to see if phones, tablets and other screens are impacting adolescent brain development

Dec 10

Ryan Speedo Green: From juvenile delinquency to opera stardom

After a childhood of anger and violence, the 32-year-old now commands the stage around the world

Dec 9

Remembering President George H.W. Bush

Former presidents and others look back on the life of President George H.W. Bush, who passed away Friday

Dec 2

Paradise Lost: Inside California's Camp Fire

"60 Minutes" reveals what firefighters saw as the deadliest wildfire in California history destroyed the town of Paradise

Dec 2

The chaos behind family separation at the border

A "60 Minutes" investigation has found the separations that dominated headlines this summer began earlier and were greater in number than the Trump administration admits

Nov 26

Right Rail – Video Promo – Listing

Search for survivors in Indonesia tsunami

Rescue workers in Indonesia expect they will find more victims of a deadly weekend tsunami. Crews are frantically searching the western coast of the island of Java. More than 280 people are known to be dead and many more are missing. Barry Petersen reports.

12H ago 03:05

Finishing the work of a murdered journalist

Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in Malta last year. Now major news organizations are continuing her reporting

Dec 23 04:45

Government shutdown continues

“Closed” signs were up at federal offices on the third day of the partial government shutdown. Both sides held firm as the dispute over President Trump's border wall continues. Chip Reid reports.

updated 44M ago 02:14

Judge orders N. Korea to pay family in student's death

A federal judge in Washington, D.C, has ordered North Korea to pay the parents of Otto Warmbier in a wrongful death lawsuit.

updated 56M ago 00:25

Stocks tank after Trump slams the Fed

The Dow plunged more than 650 points on the road to its worst December since the Great Depression in 1931. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arranged a meeting with top regulators to discuss what comes next. Errol Barnett reports.

updated 6M ago 02:27

NORAD's Santa tracker unaffected by government shutdown

As of Monday afternoon, Santa was spotted traveling over Saudi Arabia

updated 13M ago

North Korea ordered to pay $500 million in U.S. student's death

Warmbier was a college student who visited North Korea with a tour group when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor

updated 34M ago

"Trees for Troops" bring holiday cheer

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel are serving in every corner of the world this Christmas. If they can’t be home for the holidays, at least a reminder of home has come to them. Barry Petersen reports.

updated 6M ago 02:18

Wrestling video controversy

Olympian Jordan Burroughs is speaking out after a New Jersey high school referee ordered a young wrestler to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a match. DeMarco Morgan reports.

updated 32M ago 01:42

Trump's new "public charge" rule

The Trump Administration is considering an immigration policy change that could make it harder for low-income immigrants to become permanent U.S. residents. Camilo Montoya-Galvez joins CBSN to discuss.

updated 2M ago 06:32

Buying holiday gifts for refugees

Some holiday shoppers are starting a new trend: buying presents for people living in refugee camps around the world. Mark Phillips reports.

updated 45M ago 02:17

Notable deaths in 2018

A look back at the esteemed personalities who've left us this year, who touched us with their innovation, creativity and humanity

Dec 21 139 photos

Biggest stories of 2018, ranked

This year was a doozy. These were the top stories on CBSNews.com

Dec 6 55 photos

Yemen's humanitarian crisis

The nation's civil war has claimed at least 10,000 lives, and generated the world's worst humanitarian crisis

Dec 17 24 photos

The timeless photojournalism of Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington

"War and Peace in Liberia" is a new exhibition in New York City celebrating the work of two acclaimed war photographers, who were both killed in conflict zones

Dec 9 15 photos

2018 additions to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry

"The Shining," "Jurassic Park," "My Fair Lady" and "Brokeback Mountain" are among the classic films to be preserved for future generations by the Library of Congress

Dec 12 27 photos

Syracuse recruit makes friend part of signing ceremony

"He taught me that the only disability is a bad attitude," the high school football star said of his friend with cerebral palsy

Dec 20

Thanks for the help of a loving neighbor

For many people flooded out of their homes in and around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the most welcoming port in the storm has been a total stranger. Jaret Hucks, who owns the Midtown Inn and Cottages, has given away almost a thousand free nights to this community's poorest and most vulnerable evacuees. Steve Hartman revisits the story he first reported earlier this fall, and about a new flood that followed.

Nov 25 02:13

Veteran takes 3 buses almost every day to visit wife's grave

She stood by him for 72 years, and he's standing by her now

Dec 19

Student's dedicated service dog awarded honorary diploma

Grad student Brittany Hawley graduated this weekend — but she didn't cross the stage alone

Dec 19

Elderly neighbor's Christmas generosity melts hearts

2-year-old Cadi now has a special present to open every Christmas until she is 16 years old

Dec 18

Foundation brings dogs to brighten people's days

The Good Dog Foundation brings pups to people in need of some love

Dec 18  Original Article