For a lot of businesses nowadays, it’s imperative to have accurate weather data. In industries such as tourism and aviation, knowing the weather conditions for the next few days (or weeks) for a particular destination affects how their operations are planned and executed.
This provides opportunities for software developers to create applications that utilize weather data to help individuals and businesses. And Weather APIs have become an important backbone for these applications.
Most developers know about OpenWeatherMap. It’s a very easy to use and very data-rich weather API. This API’s development was inspired by crowdsourcing projects such as Wikipedia.
Using OpenWeatherMap is good for most use-cases. But for more detailed and complex data there are alternatives that can do the job better. Listed below are some of the best options aside from using OpenWeatherMap.
ClimaCell is excellent for real-time, short-term, and hourly forecasts. Its Microweather API provides industries with not only weather data but other information such as air quality as well. This Microweather API can pinpoint real-time data for fine locational grids (hyper-local).
Climacell has an artificial-intelligence-driven model that captures data from several and diverse sources including drones, sensors, internet of things (IoT) devices, and associated vehicles.
It provides a total of 5 data layers, that includes weather, air quality, pollen, road risk, and fire index, of 60+ different data fields. You can use as many, or as few, as you’d like. On top of this Climacell Microweather API offers map-layers with minute-by-minute weather data along with historical data.
The API has a free tier along with enterprise plans. For most developers, the free plan already is stacked with a value that includes access to real-time and hourly forecasting, nowcasting (minute-by-minute forecasting), historical stations, air quality parameters, fire index, road risk, insights, map tiles, and more. The free plan usage is limited to 1,000 calls/day.
Accuweather is known for its “weather journalism”. The company behind it provides up to date information on climate and weather through news and articles. Not to be overshadowed, the API itself is equally impeccable.
Accuweather’s API is mostly used for smart-homes, connected-vehicles, mobile apps, and smart-TV’s. It processes over 30 billion API requests daily. This makes it one of the most popular, if not the most popular, on this list.
One cool feature of the Accuweather API is the “Indices API” that provides flight delays, mosquito activity, stargazing, and dozens of other daily index values for a specific location. Another is the very interactive documentation that lets users try out each API call.
As for pricing, Accuweather’s free tier is very much limited as it only allows a maximum of 50 calls per day. The paid plans start at $25 per month. The paid plans are very cost-effective as the product provides a lot of value.
Weatherbit API sources its data from thousands of current weather observations, live weather stations, and 10-year historical weather data. Another feature is the highly localized forecast for any location on earth through a sophisticated data model.
There are many ways to do data lookup. The most common is to use latitude and longitude or city name/city ID. But there are also other methods such as using the IP address of the weather station and even an airport’s ICAO code.
Weatherbit provides hyperlocal forecasts at resolutions of less than 1 kilometer using machine learning models and algorithms. It also provides air quality, soil temperature and soil moisture data.
Its combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence models allows it to have fast responses. For enterprise users this means they’ll get an average response time of 200 milliseconds. It also boasts a 95% uptime for its servers.
Weatherbit offers a free tier that allows users up to 500 calls per day and isn’t allowed for commercial use. The paid tiers start at $35/month.
If you’re looking for long-term forecasts (those upward of 6 months) then you will love Weather 2020 API. It calls itself the “predictive weather modeling platform” as it provides forecasts up to nine months in advance.
Weather2020 uses statistical models developed by famed meteorologist Gary Lezak. The model makes use of atmospheric observations from October to December each year to generate predictions for the following year in the months of January to September.
This API is used by the popular mobile weather app 1Weather and prides itself on serving more than 10 million forecasts per day.
Its free version allows for 1,000 calls per day and for additional calls there is a payment of $0.002 for each call. The premium tier starts at $9.99/month.
Each alternative to OpenWeatherMap discussed here has its own pros and cons. So we cannot make any objective conclusions on which is the best. What is best for one developer, building a particular project, will be very different from another’s use-case. The best way to identify what fits your needs the most is to qualify each API based on your technical requirements vs budget constraints.