Replacing the OpenWeatherMap API with Visual Crossing Weather

Visual Crossing is a superior replacement for the OpenWeatherMap API (also known as the OpenWeather API) in both cost and functionality. By offering up to 1000 free results a day and full access to forecast historical data, Visual Crossing Weather makes it easy for everyone to test the API, compare data, evaluate extended weather functionality, and convert existing applications.

Many developers need high quality weather data but struggle to find it at a great price. With Visual Crossing Weather’s Timeline Weather API, there is now an API that is easier to use that OpenWeatherMap, has much more standard functionality, and is often less than half of the cost. Just as you can with the OpenWeatherMap API, with Visual Crossing Weather you can easily get the weather forecast or historical weather for any location worldwide. However, Visual Crossing Weather offers longer forecasts (15-day model based and unlimited climate based), dozens of weather measures, and functionality that you won’t find from other providers such as growing degree days and maritime data.

Quick OpenWeatherMap API Replacement Steps

  1. Sign up for a Visual Crossing Weather Account here : https://www.visualcrossing.com/weather/weather-data-services
  2. Log in to your new account, click the orange Account button in the upper right.
  3. On the Account screen, copy your API Key, and save it for step 5.
  4. Go into your existing code where it calls the OpenWeatherMap API.
  5. Replace the OpenWeatherMap URL with a URL of the following form: https://weather.visualcrossing.com/VisualCrossingWebServices/rest/services/timeline/<YOUR_TARGET_LOCATION>/<START_DATE>/<END_DATE>?key=<YOUR_API_KEY> (Omit start and end date if you simply want a 15-day forecast.)
  6. Parse the forecast results based on the JSON format here: https://www.visualcrossing.com/resources/documentation/weather-api/timeline-weather-api/

For more details, please continue reading this article.

What makes the Timeline API an ideal OpenWeatherMap API replacement?

The Timeline Weather API offers several key features that make it ideal for everyone looking to upgrade their OpenWeatherMap API application either by adding more functionality or reducing cost.

Expand your weather functionality

One key reason to upgrade to the Visual Crossing Weather API is to get additional weather functionality. Visual Crossing Weather offers expanded functionality that many other providers do not, and you can use this functionality to put more value into your weather application or to get more value from your weather analysis. Some of the powerful weather functionality that will improve your weather application or increase your weather data analysis includes the following:

  • 15-day, worldwide, model-based forecast is standard for all users allowing them to get better forecast data for a longer time window.
  • Climate-based statistics forecast that uses decades of past weather data to predict the typical and extreme weather possibilities for any day of the year at any location.
  • Historical weather summaries use the Visual Crossing Weather Engine to analyze hundreds of thousands of weather data records across days, months, or years to create a custom summary calculation to your exact specifications.
  • One-time and daily bulk weather data downloads give you the easiest possible way to consume weather data and make sure that the latest data is constantly available to your users.
  • Built-in use-case-specific custom calculations such as Growing Degree Days allow the Weather Engine to do the complex calculations that directly give you the specific business data that you need.
  • The Visual Crossing Weather Engine uses customizable interpolation algorithms to sample and compare multiple weather stations for every query. This helps find the best possible weather for an given location while ensuring any bad station reports are discarded.
  • Vast library of articles and examples show you how to understand weather data for any use case and make use of it in business applications such as Excel, business intelligence, Tibco, R Studio, or a database, and code such as Python, JavaScript, or Java.
  • Access to weather experts who can help you find the optimal weather data to fit your specific use case.

Cost

Another reason that drives people to switch from OpenWeatherMap to Visual Crossing Weather is cost. In addition to providing the most weather functionality and the highest quality data, Visual Crossing Weather data is extremely low cost. For comparable services, Visual Crossing Weather is often 50% cheaper than its competitors and even offers a generous free level for every user who signs up for a free account.

Users get up to 1000 records per day completely free. This is enough for most individual users such as those who want to track their sports teams, plan an event, or build a weather project using Raspberry Pi. For those who need more weather data for business intelligence applications, data science, research, or analysis purposes, Visual Crossing offers a Pay-as-you-go plan for only $0.0001 per record after the first 1000. This means that even heavy data users can get hundreds of thousands of weather records for only a few dollars.

For use cases that require even more weather data, Visual Crossing Weather offers monthly and annual plans that can provide virtually unlimited data with uptime guarantees, and custom support options. Monthly plans start at $35 for the Professional level that offers 10,000,000 results per month. In addition there is a Corporate plan designed for heavy business intelligence and data science users and an Enterprise level where functionality can be customized to your specific weather data user case. And no matter how large your weather project becomes, Visual Crossing has the resources and data to scale with your needs.

Ease to access and easy to use

The Timeline Weather API was designed specifically with ease-of-use as its driving goal, and a free account is available to everyone who has a valid email address. Requesting a 15-day forecast is as easy as specifying your location in a URL. We’ll show you exactly how to do it below. Beyond a simple forecast use case, one single API call can retrieve weather data covering an entire range of dates including times in the past and the weather forecast for the future. Also the API supplies current conditions and can even accommodate requests for ultra-long range forecasts by using historical averages to describe the likely conditions for next month or even next year.

The Timeline API provides both hourly and daily result data using a single call. That simplifies the creation of interfaces and use cases where daily overview data is instantly expanded to show hourly details. No additional API round-trip or query cost required.

In addition, API features such as time period placeholders make it easy to request the weather conditions for “yesterday”, “tomorrow”, the “next7days”, or the “last7days” without having to worry about specifying an exact date range. Then, every time the query is rerun, the results will dynamically update to match the requested day or date window.

The weather results are available in an easy-to-parse JSON format that is suitable for use in any scripting or coding environment. Most languages such as Python, JavaScript, Java, etc. automatically handle the result parsing and turn the weather data records into ready-to-use native objects. The simple, coherent JSON format is used for all query results including historical and forecast data. (Note that if you want CSV output instead to drive a business tool or spreadsheet, CSV downloads are available via the web-based weather query interface and our forecast/history API endpoints.)

Deep and powerful data sources

The Timeline Weather API offers instant access to global weather forecasts and 50+ years of historical weather data from thousands of reporting stations around the world. This truly global reach means that you don’t need to worry where on the globe your target location lies. The Timeline API will use its vast pool of reporting stations and the most accurate interpolation algorithms to find the best weather results.

The same applies to current conditions and weather forecasts. Current conditions are updated from the reporting stations every few minutes where available. As for weather forecasts, they employ various global and local models to determine the most reliable forecast for every worldwide location. Beyond the basic 5 or 7-day forecast that many APIs offer, the Timeline API provides a full 15-day standard forecast.

For dates beyond the traditional 15-day forecast window, the weather engine uses decades of historical weather data to calculate an ultra-long-range “statistical forecast.” It does this by building a weather model based on the specific location, time, and date using historical weather observations. It considers not only the specific date requested, but also nearby dates with similar weather patterns. The engine can then calculate an expected range of conditions for any date in the future.

In addition, the Timeline API offers other valuable data features such as weather alerts, astronomical data, and more. Weather alerts provide data on storms and other important weather conditions that affect a specific locations. Astronomical data includes sun rise and set times as well as phases of moon. These measurers can be valuable in various recreational activities such as star gazing and sports schedules as well as agricultural growing period calculations and evening business activities.

Get started in the next 5 minutes

You can get started making your first Visual Crossing Weather query in less than 5 minutes within paying a cent. Simply sign up for a free account, enter your email, and you’ll be ready to get 1000 free results right away and every day. It is as simple as that. You can begin by using the web-based weather query UI to run a few example queries and even download sample datasets based on your own query parameters.

The real value, however, is in using the API to make automated queries in your own application, webpage, or app. Simply follow the documentation, and you can formulate any type of weather query that you need. For example, this simple API query will give you Washington DC’s weather for yesterday in both daily and hourly resolutions.

https://weather.visualcrossing.com/VisualCrossingWebServices/rest/services/timeline/Washington,DC/yesterday?key=<YOUR_API_KEY>

Just replace <YOUR_API_KEY> with the API key found in your Visual Crossing Weather account details.

If you want the forecast for the next 15-days, it is even easier.

https://weather.visualcrossing.com/VisualCrossingWebServices/rest/services/timeline/Washington,DC?key=<YOUR_API_KEY>

Notice that for the standard forecast, you can omit the date parameter entirely. If you don’t specify any date, the weather engine assumes that you want the 15-day forecast.

To demonstrate more complex query, we can request the weather for the the first half of the year 2021. Since I’m executing this query in mid-May 2021, the Timeline weather engine has a lot of complex work to do, but the actual query is quite simple to understand and execute.

https://weather.visualcrossing.com/VisualCrossingWebServices/rest/services/timeline/Washington,DC/2021-01-01/2021-7-31?key= <YOUR_API_KEY>

Notice that the query specifies two times. The first is the start time 1/1/2021, and the second is the end time 7/31/2021. This simple URL queries the daily and hourly records for the first half of 2021.

Although the results will arrive as a single JSON, the weather engine must pull data from both the historical records, current conditions, the 15-day forecast, and the “statistical forecast” to produce the result. In my case, the first portion of the result data (January through mid-May) will be retrieved from historical station observations. The data for the next 15-days, as of the time of my query execution (mid-May through the end of the month), will be pulled from the standard 15-day forecast.

Since the remainder of the requested period (June and July 2021) falls outside the standard forecast window, the weather engine will use the historical weather database to model the expected conditions for each day in these months at the requested location, and provide those summary results. Finally, the results will include the current conditions at my location. These values are provided by the most recent observations (usually in the last few minutes) at weather stations near the Washington, DC location.

This example shows how one, simple weather query can combine the power of various weather sources to supply a lot of valuable weather data for any worldwide location. Of course, this is just the beginning of the clever and useful queries that you will run using the Timeline Weather API.

Summary

The Visual Crossing Weather Timeline API is the best weather data API for those seeking to upgrade their OpenWeatherMap-based application. It provides an easier and cheaper way to obtain historical weather and weather forecasts for any location worldwide. Beyond that, the Timeline API also provides current conditions, statistical weather summaries, ultra-long-range forecasts, and more. This goes above and beyond what most other weather APIs can do and can give your weather applications a huge new set of functionality. And it provides all of this at a cost that is lower than you are probably already paying.

Questions or need help?

If you have a question or need more information, please post on our actively monitored forum for the fastest replies. You can also contact us via our support site or send an email to our weather experts. We’ll be glad to help you upgrade your application to Visual Crossing Weather and help you get the weather data that you need.