Terminal Weather with Adaptive Location

Austin Haedicke bio photo By Austin Haedicke Comment

Recently I published a post on conky for window managers. Since then I’ve been fiddling with some weather information options. I’ve temporarily given up on conky in that regard, but that’s because of a lovely workaround. Below the is the simplest and most effective solution I could find.

Weather Information:

Weather Underground still maintains and API. Yahoo’s appears broken. Even a few years ago, Yahoo’s RSS feed still required notable scripting to parse the feed. The simplest similar remedy I’ve found was to use NOAA’s rss feeds for general weather info with minimal parsing. (NOTE: It’s thanks to this proces that I finally learned a bit about sed and tr)

Recently I discoverd wttr.in which can be CURLed ($ curl wttr.in) to give a good looking forecast and current conditions inside the terminal (!). That’s pretty awesome, but the automatic location for wttr.in may not be accurate. It defaults to Atlanta for me and I’m a good 2 hours north of there. At any rate, NOAA’s location codes would have to be changed manually which is a PITA and therefore useless if you ever travel outside your home city.

Adaptive Location Based Updates:

How about 6-digit zip codes? Wttr.in does allow you to query by zip code:

$ curl wttr.in/ZIPCOD

If you manually input the zip code you fall into the same rut as the NOAA codes. So, let’s automate this. I already use ipinfo.io to fetch other things for conky. Conveniently, this includes your zip code:

$ curl ipinfo.io | grep postal | tr -d '\"' | tail -c 6

Putting that with the above you can:

$ curl wttr.in/$(curl ipinfo.io | grep postal | tr -d '\"' | tail -c 6)

However, I would not put that in your ~/.bashrc as an alias. Every time you open a new terminal you’ll have to wait for that command to queue. Not a big deal, but if you’re working within a wm and open lots of terminals, it adds up. My preferred workaround is to have a shell script run all my internet things upon connection, such as:

  • Connection (via wifi-menu)
  • Firewall (via iptables)
  • Backup server (syncthing)
  • Fetch things for conky (such as location at time of connection – perfect!)

So that fetching section might look like this:

# fetch things
curl -o /tmp/ipinfo ipinfo.io
cat /tmp/ipinfo | grep postal | tr -d '\"' | tail -c 6 > /tmp/zip

And then alias in ~/.bashrc:

alias wttr="curl wttr.in/$(cat /tmp/zip)"

Alternate Aliases:

CURLling wttr.in will give you current conditions and the forecast. However, you can get only the current conditions with a simple parse. So, you might prefer aliases like so:

alias wttr="curl wttr.in/$(cat /tmp/zip) | head -n 7 | tail -c 6"
alias forecast="curl wttr.in/$(cat /tmp/zip) | tail -n +8"


Things pull down from wttr.in pretty fast, but we can do better. I clocked wttr at 0.570s and forecast at 0.549s. Let’s have a utility pull down the data in the backgrond rather than on demand. Both conky and cron can execute commands on an interval timer. The below example uses cron to fetch the weather every 5 minutes:

*/5 * * * * curl wttr.in/$(cat /tmp/zip) | head -n 7 | tail -n 6 > /tmp/wttr
*/5 * * * * curl wttr.in/$(cat /tmp/zip) | tail -n +8 > /tmp/forecast

Then update your aliases:

alias wttr="cat /tmp/wttr"
alias forecast="cat /tmp/forecast"

And you get your weather and forecast each on in about ~0.005s!

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