NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TO ABANDON CAPSLOCK
April 12, 2016 8:06 AM   Subscribe

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICES HAS ANNOUNCED THAT STARTING May 11, 2016, their announcements will no longer be all upper case. [Via Slate]

The NWS reserves the right to go back to the capslock when things are really important. So all is not lost.
posted by Hactar (69 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
NOOOOOOOOOO!
posted by crazy_yeti at 8:06 AM on April 12, 2016 [20 favorites]


I felt obligated to post this given my past celebration of their continued use of all caps.
posted by Hactar at 8:08 AM on April 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


WHOA.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:08 AM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm just glad they gave 30 days notice so I can prepare myself.
posted by srboisvert at 8:09 AM on April 12, 2016 [19 favorites]


Why does making things more readable make me feel so much loss?
posted by ethansr at 8:10 AM on April 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


I assume there will be a website that recapitalizes the NWS forecasts for people like me that fear and hate change.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:12 AM on April 12, 2016 [47 favorites]


Well how am I supposed to take the weather seriously now?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:13 AM on April 12, 2016 [12 favorites]




I AM REAL TORE UP ABOUT THIS
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:18 AM on April 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
1114 AM EDT MON APR 14 2016

TO: SUBSCRIBERS:
-METAFILTER
-THE INTERNET

.NOW...
BETWEEN NOW AND NOON...LIGHT TO OCCASIONAL NOSTALGIA WILL
CONTINUE ACROSS THE AREA. STRONG EMOTIONS ARE POSSIBLE.
FEELINGS OF LOSS AND CHANGE SHOULD BE EXPECTED IN OUR HEARTS
AS SKES REMAIN CLOUDY.
posted by cjelli at 8:18 AM on April 12, 2016 [112 favorites]


TRULY THE END OF AN ERA.
posted by SansPoint at 8:19 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Aww... I guess this means Weather Hulk is out of a job. :(
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:19 AM on April 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


In another 30 years or so maybe they'll be adopt Unicode! Seriously, how do they print non-ASCII characters now in place names like Española, New Mexico?

If you're still looking for 80s weather report nostalgia the aviation world has you covered. Prog Charts and AIRMETs are two hard-to-read graphics. Although even they've gotten better now that they're rendered with anti-aliasing.
posted by Nelson at 8:20 AM on April 12, 2016


THINK ABOUT THE RESCUE/RECOVERY TEAMS WHO WILL RECOVER YOUR REMAINS IF YOU DO NOT SURVIVE.

From the FPP: "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."
posted by epanalepsis at 8:21 AM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


There was always a sense of urgency in the all capitals. I don't think I've seen any text scarier than:

.HURRICANE KATRINA...A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED
STRENGTH...RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.

MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT
LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL
FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY
DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL.
PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD
FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE
BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME
WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A
FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH
AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY
VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE
ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE
WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

Maybe they could keep if it they really meant it.
posted by zabuni at 8:21 AM on April 12, 2016 [41 favorites]


There was always a sense of urgency in the all capitals

Coupled with a risk of added danger because it was harder to read and comprehend the message.
posted by Nelson at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Well, we'll always have Ollie Williams.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:23 AM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


As a DJ at a small college radio station in the 70s, I often had call to tear a few sheets off the teletype machine to read on-air. The machine banged away in its soundproofed closet generating piles of yellow computer paper covered with faded headlines in all caps (the thing never had a fresh ribbon). It starting up suddenly after a lull was usually a sign that Something Had Happened or was going to. I well remember reading out the Weather Service bulletins associated with dramatic flooding in the area.

Long before the Internet I associated a certain urgency with all-caps, bouncing-baseline, slightly faded typewritten copy, and to this day can hear that old teletype pounding out the copy.
posted by kinnakeet at 8:25 AM on April 12, 2016 [18 favorites]


NWS forecast discussions are pure gold. I'll miss the all-caps but I hope to Aeolus they keep the ellipses.

And what about those ellipses which litter every weather briefing?

“In the old teletype system, you weren’t allowed to use commas. That’s your dramatic pause,” he said, laughing.

posted by otio at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


BUT CAPS LOCK IS HOW I FEEL INSIDE. ALL THE TIME.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2016 [22 favorites]


HOPEFULLY...THE DRAMATIC ELLIPSES WILL CONTINUE.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2016 [25 favorites]


thisisanoutrage.jpg
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:32 AM on April 12, 2016


Does this mean the weather radio robot voice will start having emotions?
posted by amtho at 8:36 AM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Caps off to them.
posted by pracowity at 8:40 AM on April 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


STOP YELLING AT ME
posted by I-baLL at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2016


I think this is a good change. But I'm sure that in 5-10 year it will result in forecasts that are nothing but emoji, vague yellow blobs that only gesture towards meaning, and do so differently on each different platform.

What's the word for "Yes, we could clearly improve the present system, but people are fools and once we start making changes we will inevitably end up in an over-all worse situation"?

"Middle-aged", I guess.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


I always hear the all-caps in Tom's soothing, yet urgent computer voice. It's not yelling, it's Tom urging me to pay attention that there's a tornado: TAKE COVER NOW. Thanks, Tom! So will I still hear Tom when I read these, or will it be changed? Will I not pay attention? Will I read them like normal internet drool and not pay attention to the thunderstorm watch? AHHHHHH!
posted by barchan at 8:54 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am having trouble finding the original report for IT'S BOMBOGENESIS, BABY! and it makes me sad.
posted by maryr at 9:03 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


THE ADVISORY IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:07 AM on April 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


All-caps is a major pet peeve of mine, so to this announcement I say GOOD.

I mean, good.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:08 AM on April 12, 2016


The NWS reserves the right to go back to the capslock when things are really important.

Beyond the lack of readability, the thing for me about multiple paragraphs creating a wall of CAPSLOCK is that when everything is important, nothing is. Better to my mind would be use of CAPSLOCK for emphasis:

This is a LIFE THREATENING situation. COMPLETE DESTRUCTION of entire neighborhoods is IMMINENT and LIKELY. Move NOW to an INTERIOR ROOM of a STURDY STRUCTURE to PROTECT YOURSELF FROM DANGEROUS FLYING DEBRIS.

DO NOT WAIT. ACT IMMEDIATELY.


Or something.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 9:08 AM on April 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


UPSETTING.....WHERE IS THE INEVITABLE BROWSER EXTENSION THAT RECAPSIFIES WEATHER REPORTS....I JUST WANT MORE WEATHER SHOUTING
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Sad about the ALL CAPS, but whatevs.

NWS forecast discussions are pure gold. I'll miss the all-caps but I hope to Aeolus they keep the ellipses.

They are! I check out the forecast discussion at least once a day, often more than once, just for the poetry of it. Some of those meteorologists can sing!
posted by notyou at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2016


EIGHTY PERCENT CHANCE OF CROCKEY BLOAT. TAKE SHETLER IMMEDAITLY.
posted by Zerowensboring at 9:10 AM on April 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I JUST WANT MORE WEATHER SHOUTING

http://weatherishappening.com/
posted by maryr at 9:10 AM on April 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Good night, sweet prince ;_;7
posted by coolname at 9:10 AM on April 12, 2016


AND NOW, RADIO 4 SHOUTS THE SHIPPING FORECAST:

THERE ARE WARNINGS OF GALES IN TRAFALGAR, FITZROY, AND SOLE. THE GENERAL SYNOPSIS AT MIDNIGHT: LOW, 50 MILES WEST OF FITZROY 987, EXPECTED NORTHWEST FITZROY 990 BY MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. LOW, CENTRAL ENGLAND 1006, EXPECTED DOGGER 1004 BY SAME TIME...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:13 AM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's about time. I was practically going deaf.
posted by mondo dentro at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


but what about the gravitas
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:25 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's raining sideways does not have have the same urgency as IT'S RAINING SIDEWAYS.


CHUNKY!
posted by lmfsilva at 9:31 AM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


The BBC shipping report and forecast has always been written in fine copperplate script by gentlemen in wing collars using quill pens on vellum, and transported to the wireless station on velvet cushions carried by liveried footmen through streets cleared by handbell-ringing street criers and lined by velvet ropes on gilded stands.

Your colonial ways can be so brash.
posted by Devonian at 9:33 AM on April 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


I like the all caps and ellipses because it makes me feel like I'm getting an important weather telegram on a boat.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:53 AM on April 12, 2016 [29 favorites]


UN-ALTERED REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this Important INFORMATION is ENCOURAGED.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:00 AM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I will miss it, although I'm sure in a year or two I'll stop missing it. CAPSLOCK IS STILL USEFUL FOR EMPHASIS so I hope they don't give it up completely, but yeah, we're a long way from all-upper-case teletype machines.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:00 AM on April 12, 2016


while reading about this last night, I found an Atlantic article with a fun link to Ben Cotton's NWS Hall of Fame which among others*has this (which almost seems to be most appropriately read quietly in all lower case instead)
.DISCUSSION...FIRST EXPERIENCE IN A HURRICANE FOR THIS ILLINOIS BOY.
PARTICULARLY MISSING HOME RIGHT NOW. SOUNDS AS IF A 747 IS SITTING
UPON THE ROOF REVVING ITS ENGINES. WIND EQUIPMENT HAS FAILED HERE
BUT BELIEVE WE ARE NOW SEEING WINDS POSSIBLY IN A 70 TO 90 KNOT
RANGE HERE AT LAKE CHARLES. NOS GAUGE AT CALCASIEU PASS REPORTED A
GUST TO 112 MPH...AND THEN FAILED. ANTICIPATING A 15 TO 20 FOOT
STORM SURGE AND UNSURE AT THIS TIME IF THIS WILL IMPACT US. WAS JUST
INFORMED THAT AIRPORT TERMINAL NEXT TO OFFICE HAS COLLAPSED. JUST
HAD A BRIEF COMMS FAILURE BUT NOW BACK UP. UNFORTUNATELY...SINCE WE
ARE NOW IN A DIAL BACKUP MODE...WILL BE UNABLE TO UPDATE GRIDS AND
WILL TURN THIS RESPONSIBILITY OVER TO OUR CURRENT BACKUP OFFICE SAN
ANTONIO. WE WILL MAINTAIN SHORT-TERM
RESPONSIBILITY...NOWCASTS...HLS`S...TAFS...WARNINGS...AS LONG AS WE
HOLD TOGETHER.
* though it's lacking in that legendary Hurricane Sandy one. Does anyone have a link to that? It didn't appear in the NOAA Sandy Archive.
posted by bl1nk at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


There was always a sense of urgency in the all capitals. I don't think I've seen any text scarier than

That's actually not the full bulletin, which is even scarier in its complete form.

This part always stood out to me:
WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
It's worth noting that the bulletin's specificity coupled with its hyperbolic tone have been praised for saving many lives. It's easy to imagine that the forecaster's message of "This is the worst thing that we have ever seen; run for your lives" could have gotten dulled down as it passed through layer upon layer of government bureaucracy. It's a very good thing that the NWS exclusively reserves this kind of language for an impending catastrophe, and was able to issue such a strongly-worded bulletin as soon as the risk was apparent.

As the OP mentioned, the NWS is still reserving the right to use caps for emphasis, which is a good call. If you're issuing an advisory that contains phrases like HUMAN SUFFERING WILL BE INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS, caps lock is probably a good idea to get your message across.
posted by schmod at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2016 [23 favorites]


frankly, i was kind of hoping they'd go all e e cummings,
arranging
              the forecast
in    many   different
ways
posted by briank at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


They've replaced the teletypes with DecWriters! It's like 1979 all over again!
posted by tommasz at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


My neighbor Frank, a very sweet man, personally writes many of the announcements of impending weather-related doom that we get in New England.

Now, while most of the other meteorologists sign off their notices of incoming misery with just an initial or two, Frank always uses his name -- and it's always comforting, somehow. Here, let me try to find an example. ...clickety-click...

Holy smoke, I just found a "product" that he wrote which he signed with his initials. The hell, Frank? Unless it's a subtle nod to the ALL CAPS DAYS OF YORE? He's a subtle one, it could be....
posted by wenestvedt at 11:20 AM on April 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Coupled with a risk of added danger because it was harder to read and comprehend the message.

Beyond the lack of readability, the thing for me about multiple paragraphs creating a wall of CAPSLOCK is that when everything is important, nothing is.

I concur with both of these, so I think it's definitely good for the NWS to drop the CAPSLOCK until the situation actually warrants it.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:20 AM on April 12, 2016


I always liked the flood advisories the best. "REMEMBER TO TURN AROUND AND DO NOT DROWN."
posted by zeusianfog at 11:20 AM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


STOP YELLING AT ME</em

THAT'S HOW I FEEL ABOUT THE HUFFINGTON POST

posted by scratch at 11:24 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I knew this was coming when the National Weather Service gave up Talk Like a Pirate Day.
posted by bukvich at 11:53 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I keep hearing these in my head in the automated voice that came on the radio and TV .

That katrina one is scary as shit
posted by sio42 at 12:08 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


According to a friend of mine at the NWS, they now have to figure out proper capitalization for a bunch shortenings they've only had to type in all caps before.
posted by lorimt at 12:17 PM on April 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Coupled with a risk of added danger because it was harder to read and comprehend the message.

OR MAYBE THE DIFFICULTY OF READING MESSAGES IN ALL CAPS REQUIRES THE READER TO SLOW DOWN AND THUS BETTER APPREHEND WHAT IS BEING SAID? OR MAYBE A WALL OF ALL CAPS JUST CAUSES A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE TO BOUNCE OFF AND NOT READ IT AT ALL? I WOULD LIKE TO SEE SOME RESEARCH ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC TO EMERGENCY WEATHER REPORTS.
posted by straight at 12:45 PM on April 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


i understand why teletype messages were all in a single case...but not why they were all upper-case rather than all lower-case.
posted by straight at 12:50 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


HOPEFULLY...THE DRAMATIC ELLIPSES WILL CONTINUE.

Surely there's a keyboard you can get that replaces the comma key with an "..." key.
posted by straight at 12:51 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


The caps lock helps me read storm alerts in my head in the same synthesized voice as the alerts broadcast on the radio.

This is always heartening to hear: "THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN GREY MAINE HAS ISSUED A SEVERE WEATHER WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS:" ... followed by a list of every single county in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, upstate NY, plus occasional mentions of southern Quebec...
posted by thefool at 1:12 PM on April 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


I worked as a DJ at a country radio station from 1990-94 (coolest job-during-high-school ever!).

One of the first things I did as an official employee (I'd been the "local computer whiz kid" and helped them out with PC things from time to time) was set up the "weather wire".

It was a no-name IBM PC-compatible 286-class system with an amber monochrome monitor, standard 101-key keyboard, Epson dot matrix printer, and a special interface card that connected to a satellite dish on the roof.

It's only purpose was to receive National Weather Service bulletins and reports, so the news guy could use them for his weather segments.

It was the result of "What's the cheapest computerized upgrade from a mechanical Teletype that we can deploy?"

I had to give it props, though. Simple, effective, and *reliable*. It did one thing, and did it very well, despite power outages, brownouts, storms, surges, and everything else.
posted by mrbill at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


i understand why teletype messages were all in a single case...but not why they were all upper-case rather than all lower-case.

Depending on font, there's potentially a lot less ambiguity between capital letters. Like, is that an "l" or a smudgy "i"? In all-caps, there's no question.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:01 PM on April 12, 2016


i understand why teletype messages were all in a single case...but not why they were all upper-case rather than all lower-case.

I READ ONCE THAT IT WAS THAT THEY WENT TO THE TELETYPE CEO GUY AND SAID WE CAN DO IT THIS WAY OR THE OTHER WAY AND HE SAID THAT YOU COULD NOT SPELL THE NAME OF GOD APPROPRIATELY IN LOWERCASE. NO REASONABLE SOURCE THOUGH, JUST BAD FOLKLORE.

I HAVE SUSPECTED THAT THE WRITING ON THE NOAA ALERTS HAS IMPROVED NOW THAT THEY ARE PLUGGED INTO SO MANY APPS.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:04 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TO ABANDON CAPSLOCK

THE DEUCE YOU SAY!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:03 PM on April 12, 2016


The next time I have to teach a writing class, I am using the NWS Katrina bulletin as an example of some of the most effective prose of the 21st century so far. It was concise and factual, using specific examples to create the desired emotional impact. It didn't say "You should be scared!", but instead said "Here's what going to happen" and let you figure out the "being scared" part for yourself.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:04 PM on April 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I JUST WANT MORE WEATHER SHOUTING

thefuckingweather.com
posted by HumuloneRanger at 7:48 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I read every single one of these in the style of this classic SNL skit.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:22 PM on April 12, 2016


.
posted by mikelieman at 10:57 PM on April 12, 2016


In a field known more for scientific than communication skills sometimes, I worry that my fellow meteorologists will struggle with this for a while. Capitalization of the correct words may be difficult for some of my co-workers.
posted by weathergal at 3:29 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Today's the day! At least one forecaster is excited.
posted by exogenous at 9:19 AM on May 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


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