Today marks the end of a meteorological era. For more than a century, the National Weather Service's forecasts have been sent out in LOUD ALL-CAPS FONT. It gave their storm and blizzard warnings a nice apocalyptic feel. Like so:
The tradition dated back to 1849, when the NWS first started pounding out all-caps forecasts via telegraph. And for much of the 20th century, weather reports were sent via teleprinters, which only allowed capital letters.
But the era of typographical table-pounding is now coming to a close. Starting Wednesday, May 11, the NWS will shift to mixed-case text for many of its reports (though it'll keep the hilariously antiquated Courier font):
The agency actually first proposed this change to mixed case back in the 1990s, as forecasts were increasingly sent via internet and the shouting seemed a touch passé. But, says NOAA, "it took the next 20 years or so for users of Weather Service products to phase out the last of the old equipment that would only recognize teletype."
So now here we are, in 2016, and the change will be phased in slowly. The NWS's offices will first try out this crazy new "experimental mixed-case text format" for regional weather summaries and other run-of-the-mill discussions. Then, later this summer, they'll look to switch off the caps lock for many of their weather warnings. And by January 2017, most of their text products will feature lower-case letters.
Not all is lost, though! The agency clarified that regional offices can still revert to all-caps in extremely dangerous weather situations, if they choose. So we may yet see the occasional "CRIPPLING AND POTENTIALLY HISTORIC BLIZZARD" declaration. Let's hope. It's just not the same in an indoor voice.