U.S. Weather Service To Stop Using ALL CAPS

April 12, 2016

caps lock generic key 324213After delivering their weather and hurricane forecasts in ALL CAPS for over 150 years, the U.S. Weather Service will move to both upper and lowercase letters, with the change following an upgrade to their computer systems.

The U.S. Weather Service also delivers hurricane forecasts, and many Bermudians are familiar with their website, and frequently check it when the island is facing a hurricane.

This is according to the Associated Press, which noted that using all caps is considering ‘shouting’ online, and reported, “Weather service spokeswoman Susan Buchanan said the agency started using all capital letters in 1849 forecasts because of the telegraph. Twenty years ago, the agency tried phasing out the practice, but old equipment wouldn’t recognize lower-case letters.

“Except, Buchanan said, IN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATIONS, WHEN CAPITALIZATION WILL REIGN.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] website said, “Recent software upgrades to the computer system that forecasters use to produce weather predictions, called AWIPS 2offsite link [The Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System], are allowing for the change to mixed-case letters.

“The switch will happen on May 11, after the required 30-day notification period to give customers adequate time to prepare for the change.”

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

“Upper case letters in forecasts will not become obsolete – 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.”

“People are accustomed to reading forecasts in upper case letters and seeing mixed-case use might seem strange at first,” said NWS meteorologist Art Thomas.

“It seemed strange to me until I got used to it over the course of testing the new system, but now it seems so normal.”

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