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Weather Service puts all-capital-letter reports to the dust bin

This is a Key West National Weather Service report from last week. In May, the agency is phasing out the use of only capital letters.
This is a Key West National Weather Service report from last week. In May, the agency is phasing out the use of only capital letters.

AFTER 167 YEARS, THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILL NOT SCREAM ANYMORE. AT LEAST NOT ALL THE TIME.

Since 1849 -- before there even was an official National Weather Service -- weather reports have been issued in all capital letters. According to the Associated Press, it was because of the telegraph.

Starting May 11, the agency will issue its weather reports and alerts in mixed cases, meaning regular sentences, not all in caps. The move is being slowly transitioned in.

"Beginning that date, products will be transitioned from upper case to mixed case. It's taken a long time to get to this transition," said Matthew Moreland, meteorologist in charge of the Weather Service's Key West office.

It's not a matter of just typing out sentences, he said.

"A lot of our text is automated now, gridded maps. So we do have to configure our systems to support the change so we are doing configurations locally," Moreland said.

The Associated Press reports that the change was attempted 20 years ago but the equipment couldn't read lower-case letters. Now it's being upgraded so you won't get all your weather reports in all capital letters except in dire circumstances, for example, likely an imminent hurricane.

"It will be certain emergency situations where we can use all caps," Moreland said.

Congress created the National Weather Service in 1870, but the federal government used the Smithsonian Institution to issue weather reports starting in 1849.

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