An early winter snowstorm knocked the North Pole offline mid-week and it has been a struggle to restore vital services.
Weather watchers in Flight Command say the storm has been the equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.
Normally a winter blizzard is not so disruptive to a place used to heavy year-round weather. But September is usually a mild month and it is a time where a lot of work is done to critical infrastructure. This storm hit during an upgrade to fiber optic Internet lines at the North Pole. It resulted in a five day outage that is still resulting in spotty service.
“We do much of this work during the months of April and September,” said Elf Rowdy Floog, a Utilities Services spokesperson familiar with the situation. “We had planned for these upgrades for September and they were going well. When we saw the forecast right around the 13th, we tried to speed some things up but really it was too late. We apologize for the inconvenience it has caused everyone.”
For North Pole Flight Command the outage gave some valuable training time for elves who have never suffered from an Internet outage before. Usually Internet at the North Pole is very stable. It has to be in order to support all functions of Operation Merry Christmas, including Flight Command. But without Internet the “show must go on” and this outage gave some in Flight Command a taste of what it would be like to lose Internet when Santa flies.
The use of conventional radio at ground stations, CB radio on sleighs, shortwave and HAM radio as well is via landline phone and visual signals were all put into practice in the last week.
Elf Buck Sanchez, head of flight operations at the North Pole, says that everyone from ground crew to sleigh traffic controllers around the world benefitted from having to use analogue systems for a few days. No interruptions to flight operations are reported to have occurred during the outage.
As of today – Sunday, the 25th of September – it appears that things are returning to normal.