Weather Underground Drops Free API Key, Cue the Storm Clouds

On or around May 15, with no announcement or advanced notification, the Weather Underground quietly removed their free API key option for use in their weather products.  This left developers with no advanced warning to update their products or inform their customers in advance of the change. This also means that developers have one less free weather option for building weather-based products for use in items like apps and websites.

The official announcement from Weather Underground is here: https://apicommunity.wunderground.com/weatherapi/topics/weather-underground-api-changes

Weather Underground was born from  University of Michigan’s Internet weather database in 1995. In 2012, the Weather Underground was purchased by The Weather Channel (later renamed The Weather Company).  Then CEO David Kenny, responding to the angry reactions of the acquisition said, “I think that once they see that we’re only investing in the product, not changing it or dumbing it down or altering it in some way, then I think that will go away.”

Cue the storm clouds (and the angry reactions).

Here is one reaction: https://thingpulse.com/weather-underground-no-longer-providing-free-api-keys/

This change particularly hurts the IoT community, which has used the Weather Underground API’s to display weather data on many different devices. My IoT weather display using the Arduino chip ESP8266 currently in development will need to be rewritten with an API from another service.

IoT weather display utilizing an ESP8266 processor and an ePaper display.

Free weather APIs are never a sure thing, even when it is government data. The National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005 was a legislative proposal put forth by United States Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. It proposed to curtail the U.S. government’s National Weather Service(NWS) at weather.gov with commercial weather services. This would have required the NWS to charge for use of the government funded data on par with commercial weather providers. One of Santorum’s constituents and campaign contributors was the owner of AccuWeather.com, a commercial weather service also located in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the bill died in committee.

For now, the API calls still work for users who obtained a free API key prior to May 15 . But who knows when that will no longer be the case, and will it be removed with no advance warning, again?

So what free weather alternatives remain for developers? This not a complete list, but here are a few of them:

  • DarkSky.net – https://darksky.net/dev
  • Weather.gov – https://www.weather.gov/documentation/services-web-api – This data is supplied by the United States government and contains weather data only for U.S.A. locations and its territories.
  • OpenWeatherMap.org – https://openweathermap.org/api
  • AerisWeather.com – https://www.aerisweather.com/support/docs/api/

Disclaimer

I have developed weather-based applications using several different APIs (all FREE). Here are some of them:

Zap Weather – Weather component/module for Joomla utilizing the free API from weather.gov

Zap Calendar – There are two weather plugins that work with Zap Calendar to display weather icons on a calendar. The plugins utilize the APIs from DarkSky.net and Weather.gov.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *