How to download the weather forecast for all US ZIP Codes

US ZIP Codes act like postal codes in other countries – they provide an easy and structured way to locate an address within a city and state. They are easy to remember and provide a reasonably precise geographical location. This makes them valuable for businesses and other organizations that want to collect information about their customer locations.

One common desire is to be able to relate ZIP Codes to weather data such as weather forecasts or historical weather reports. As there are more than 40,000 ZIP Codes in the United States, downloading weather data for all ZIPs can create a very large dataset. In this article, we offer recommendations on the best way to download weather data for many ZIP codes, depending on your requirements.

There are three main ways to download weather data for a large number of ZIP Code locations. The first is to use the pre-built, ZIP Code datasets created every day by Visual Crossing. The second is create a custom data download using the Visual Crossing Query Builder. Finally, the third option is to use the Weather API to download the data yourself.

ZIP code location lookup

The Visual Crossing Weather Engine returns weather results based on point locations.  As most ZIP Codes are areas, when you request weather data from Visual Crossing using a ZIP Code, the ZIP Code will be geocoded to a single point, often the ‘centroid’, a mathematically calculated center point location.

ZIP Codes will look up data by their ‘centroid’ (red dots)

The best option for cases where you want to specify a specific location based on custom logic is to geocode that location yourself and pass that latitude/longitude values to our API.

Pre-Built Bulk weather data downloads for all ZIP Codes

Visual Crossing offers compressed, bulk downloads for forecast and historical ZIP Code weather data. This offers a CSV data format for each ZIP Code with commonly used weather elements such as temperature, precipitation and wind.

This option is the easiest option if you need access to weather data for most of the ZIP Codes in the United States. It requires no set up or configuration and is a simple URL request to retrieve the dataset in question. For example, the following will download the Daily Weather Forecast Data all US ZIP Codes: 

In addition to the daily weather forecast, we also offer historical data by year and for the last 30 days and for years for 2000 onwards:

This option is available for all users with a Corporate or Enterprise Plan.

Scheduled custom dataset downloads for US ZIP Codes

If you require weather data for a subset of US ZIP Codes, or you require additional configuration of the output elements or format, you can set up a scheduled jobs using the Weather Data Query Builder.

The Query Builders allows you to import a list of ZIP Codes, configure your exact query and then set up download for the dataset. You can choose to download the data one time or set up a schedule so that the data is refreshed every day.

The schedule data will be available at the same time each day. Once the dataset is available, you can download the data using a simple link, similar to an API request. This makes it particularly easy to integrate into a database loading script or other automated approach.

For step by step instructions on setting up a query with multiple ZIP Codes, see How to download weather data for multiple locations. Once you have a dataset download configured, you can then schedule it – see How to schedule weather data queries for more details.

This option is the best for users who need a flexible data set definition that can be applied to full list of ZIP Codes. For example, if you are looking for extended soil, energy or wind element data.

The required subscription plan will vary based on number of ZIP Codes and amount of data being requested.

Using the weather API to download weather data for ZIP Codes

The Visual Crossing Weather API offers the greatest flexibility for downloading weather data for US ZIP Codes. If you use the API, you can change each zip code request and use different parameters for each ZIP Code. For example if you would like a different data range or different elements for different ZIP Code. Five digit- US ZIP Codes can be used as the location parameter for the Timeline Weather API – no additional configurations necessary.

This option is best if you require the flexibility of the API and need different configuration for each ZIP Code. If you do not require this, we recommend using either the compressed bulk down or scheduled data download described above.

The required subscription plan will vary based on number of ZIP Codes and amount of data being requested

Questions or need help?

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