Frequently Asked Questions About the Weather Utility

Copyright: (c) 2006-2017 Jeremy Stanley <>. Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software is granted under terms provided in the LICENSE file distributed with this software.


1. Can I help?

Sure! Bug reports and feature suggestions are always welcome, but fixes and patches are of course preferred. Contact if desired, but please read this FAQ and the included manuals for weather(1) and weatherrc(5) before asking questions that might be answered therein.

2. How do I figure out my local METAR station ID?

The list of stations included in the "stations" file is comprised of thousands of entries, so if you're within the USA it's recommended to use weather's built-in Census place name and ZCTA (postal ZIP code) searching capabilities. Otherwise, using its latitude,longitude coordinate search feature is probably your best bet. See the weather(1) manual for examples.

3. How do I figure out my local city name and state abbreviation?

As of the 2.0 release, this is no longer necessary. In Spring of 2011 the NWS switched away from city-named forecast zone IDs to the numeric state zone IDs also used for alerts. As a result, weather now comes with pregenerated correlations between airports/stations and zones along with USA Census (FIPS and ZCTA/ZIP code) and global latitude,longitude coordinates and can search among them in a flexible and intuitive manner. See the weather(1) manual for examples.

4. I live outside the USA--can this be made to work for me anyway?

ICAO codes for METAR stations can be found for cities and airports worldwide, but forecast and alert data is harder to come by. If you have any recommendations of plaintext data for other countries available in a format like NOAA's, I will be happy to start incorporating it into the weather utility. If the data is published in a non-English language, I'll require some additional input from speakers of that language for how to handle filtering and formatting of the text.

5. Why do I get the wrong forecast when specifying -i or --id?

As of the 2.0 release, this question is no longer relevant.

6. Where can I get a list of the NWS advisory zones for alerts?

As of the 2.0 release, this is no longer necessary. See FAQ entries #2 and #3 for more detail.

7. What values are valid for a --headers list?

The default set it uses if you don't override it yourself on the command line or in configuration is as follows:


These are a case-insensitive match against the start of lines in a decoded METAR up to the first colon (:) with underscores (_) replaced by spaces. You can see the full METAR for a given condition report by passing --verbose or by observing one directly (perhaps by looking in your datacache directory). Unfortunately I haven't found any proper specification for the decoded METAR format used by the NWS so know of no comprehensive list of what lines might appear.