If weather advisories give you the unshakeable impression that someone is shrieking at you about pollen counts and flash flood warnings, you’re in good company. And so, to appease the public, the National Weather Service will quiet down — that is, they’ll stop typing in all caps.
Susan Buchanan, weather service spokesperson, tells AP that “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.” In 2016, typing and texting are fundamental means of communication, and their conventions shape our interpretations of all other stimuli. Because we generally only type in all capital letters to indicate a raised voice, the National Weather Service seems always to be shouting at us.
Come May 11, caps lock will be reserved for emergencies; otherwise, AP reports that “the agency will use both upper- and lower-case letters.” Progress comes in all shapes and forms.
That said, with my allergies, I’d prefer for pollen alerts to be communicated in all caps. I like to know that the National Weather Service is sympathetic to my plight.
Screengrab via National Weather Service.