There's been a lot of talk about the weather lately due to this impending storm that's about to blanket the Northeast with up to 3 feet of snow (or more!) in some places. It's being called the Blizzard of 2016 with all sorts of silly names.
Anyway, as you may have seen either on television or on the internet in the last few days, the National Weather Service has been issuing all sorts of warnings and notices to the public about this storm. BE PREPARED...GUSTS OF WIND IN EXCESS OF...YADA YADA YADA...WE TYPE IN ALL CAPS WITH LOTS OF ELLIPSES...
But seriously, have you ever wondered why the NWS puts out their warnings like that -- in all caps? The practice originates to the time when weather forecasts were more of an internal industry discussion sent over teletype machines from location to location. Somehow, despite the abundance of faster and more readable communication, the ALL CAPS forecasts kept on, becoming more of a standardized look as the years went on. Part of the reason this hasn't changed is due to industry stubbornness to adapt and change with new technology. On top of that, it seems like a lot of red tape has to be crossed before letting mixed-case letters to be sent out.
Maier said that most meteorologists have become tired of shouting and are eager to move to a more modern format. But he said the National Weather Service still has to complete a formal review begun years ago in which it checked with all the users of its products—that is, “the military, other federal agencies, other state and local agencies, and a large component of the private sector”— to make sure they can handle mixed-case briefings. The worry isn’t that some tiny weather-obsessed shack in a remote corner of Alaska is still using a teletype machine, but that many different organizations automatically script certain responses to certain weather warnings. Will those ancient programs recognize weather data if it comes in looking like regular text?