Ending The Shouting: National Weather Service To Ditch All Caps

Wednesday, April 13th 2016, 12:17 pm
By: News On 6

The National Weather Service is finally ready to stop shouting its forecasts.

OK, it hasn't actually been shouting them, it's been sending them out in all caps -- which is the internet equivalent to shouting -- and it finally has the technology to send them out in upper and lower case.

For decades, the NWS sent its forecasts out by teleprinters, which were like typewriters connected to telephone lines.

Teleprinters could only handle upper case letters. New technology came along years ago, but because so many customers were still using the old teleprinters, the NWS had to keep sending the forecasts in all caps.

The National Weather Service proposed switching to mixed-case letters several times since the 1990s, but it took 20 years for users of Weather Service products to phase out the last of the old equipment that would only recognize teletype.

Three forecast products will transition to mixed-case use on May 11, 2016. They include area forecast discussions, public information statements and regional weather summaries. Severe weather warnings will transition in the summer, with other forecasts and warnings transitioning to the new system through early next year.

News On 6 Meteorologist Mike Grogan says the switch won't change the information contained the forecasts. Still, he applauds the change. "It won't look like it was prepared by a robot instead of a person," he said.

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Upper case letters in forecasts will not disappear. Forecasters will have the option to use all capital letters in weather warnings to emphasize threats during extremely dangerous situations.

Certain forecast products with international implications, such as aviation and shipping, will continue to use upper case letters, per international agreements that standardize weather product formats across national borders.