Saturday, September 26, 2020

Unreal Weather - Live METAR 1.7 Released!

Cumulonimbus clouds generated by the mod (HUEN, Entebbe Intl Airport, Kampala, Uganda)


MOD STATUS

MSFS 2020 Steam                                    OK

MSFS 2020 Microsoft Windows Store         OK

MSFS 2020 Boxed                                     OK


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


You can find some of the popular questions about the mod answered in this post:


REVISION HISTORY

1.7 (27-Nov-2020)

  • Added snow cover generation based on precipitation level
  • Additional snow cover indicators support
  • Aerosol density transition can now be instant (disabled by default)

1.6 (20-Oct-2020; 30-Oct-2020 - updated for MSFS 1.10.7.0)

  • Improved cloud layer transitions
  • Improved winds gusts
  • Cached METAR reports can now be disabled
  • Other minor improvements

1.5 (12-Oct-2020)

  • Altimeter indicator in METAR now takes priority when calculating MSL pressure
  • Weather Settings panel now refreshes itself properly
  • High-elevation winds can be disabled in the mod settings
  • Other minor improvements

1.4 (07-Oct-2020)

  • Resolved the issue that prevented the mod from running in some situations
  • MSL temperature is now set correctly
  • METAR station elevation is now displayed along with its name
  • Added support for variable winds
  • Added support for high-elevation winds (experimental)
  • Added support for wind gusts
  • Altimeter indicator is now honored, when MSL pressure information is missing
  • Improved handling of SLP indicator
  • Added diagnostics log panel to Weather Settings

1.3 (01-Oct-2020)

  • Added "re-roll weather" button to METAR panel. (See details below.)
  • Switching between weather presets while in-flight is now much faster
  • The mod is now available as a Community package add-on

1.2 (28-Sep-2020)

  • Fixed issues with sea-level pressure (QNH and SLP)
  • Fixed wind direction transitions
  • Switching to and from 'Unreal Weather - Live METAR' preset should work when in-flight. (This is experimental. If you experience any issues, just select the preset before you start your session.)

1.1 (27-Sep-2020)

  • A fix for the critical issue that was causing MSFS 2020 to crash due to incorrect handling of the variable wind report values.

1.0 (26-Sep-2020)

  • Initial release.

If you like this mod, please consider making a small donation in the form of an Amazon gift card. I would greatly appreciate that. You can find my contact information at the bottom of this post. Thank you!


DOWNLOAD LINKS

Unreal Weather - Live METAR 1.7 - CURRENT

For game versions 1.7.12.0, 1.7.14.0, 1.8.3.0, 1.9.3.0, 1.9.5.0, 1.10.7.0, 1.10.11.0, 1.11.5.0, 1.12.13.0. To be installed into your Community folder as an add-on.

Unreal Weather - Live METAR 1.6

For game versions 1.7.12.0, 1.7.14.0, 1.8.3.0, 1.9.3.0, 1.9.5.0, 1.10.7.0 1.10.11.0, 1.11.5.0. To be installed into your Community folder as an add-on.


WHAT IS IT?

Unreal Weather - Live METAR is a mod for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 that adds live dynamic weather to the game, using METAR - current METeorological Aerodrome Reports from around the world. METAR reports are retrieved in real time, based on the current location of the player, and the in-game weather is updated accordingly.

In addition, the current METAR report and monitoring station information is displayed in the Weather Settings menu within the game. The mod is highly configurable, which allows users to adjust it to their liking and gaming hardware capabilities.

It also supports smooth, user-configurable transitions between different weather states to provide the best experience.






This mod is developed as an alternative to the built-in "live" weather system in MSFS 2020, which uses MeteoBlue weather information instead of METAR.


HOW DO I GET THE MOD TO WORK WITH MY GAME?


In order to use this mod, you will need to do the folowing:

1) Obtain an API token from AVWX, https://account.avwx.rest/ . Their "Hobby" tier is free and good, as of now, for 4000 report retrievals per day, which is more than sufficient for any MSFS 2020 user.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with AVWX in any way, yet I like their API.

2) Deploy the package to your Community folder, and, finally...

3) Add your API token to one of the mod files.

That's it!


INSTALL AS A COMMUNITY PACKAGE ADD-ON


WARNING: If you have previously installed this mod by modifying the game, you will need to remove it prior to installing the Community package version.

To ununstall that version, you will need to perform the steps described in the separate post.


1. Obtain API Token

First, you must obtain your own API token from AVWX. You will only need to do that once.

Go to https://account.avwx.rest/, create an account and sign up for their free "Hobby" tier.

After you have logged in, generate an API token, by hitting the "+" sign in the toolbar at the top. Copy the generated token value, as you will need it to use the mod:


Note that you can add, update and delete these API tokens as needed. You are NOT limited to just one token!


2. Deploy the Mod to Your MSFS 2020 Community Folder


Download the Community package version of the mod and deploy it to your Community folder. Make sure to use the mod version that corresponds to your current MSFS 2020 build version. You can confirm the build version in-game, by going to your Profile screen.

After you have installed the mod, it will end up in this folder, alongside with your other mods and add-on that you may have already installed:

Community\unreal-weather-live-metar\


3. Add Your API Token to the Mod


Once you have deployed the mod, add your API token to it.

Navigate to the following folder inside your deployed copy:

Community\unreal-weather-live-metar\html_ui\Templates\WeatherEditionMenu\

You should see the following 2 files in that folder:

WeatherEditionMenu.html
WeatherEditionMenu.js

NOTE: Windows 10 hides certain well-known file extensions in Windows Explorer by default. That fact alone may confuse the heck out of you when looking for particular files like the ones listed above. I strongly suggest that you globally disable that "feature" in your Windows Explorer by following the instructions in this post. Trust me, that is going to make your life much, much easier!



Open the WeatherEditionMenu.js file in any plain text editor, such as Notepad or Notepad++, and add your API token to it. The API token is going to be used by the custom code to obtain METAR reports while you're playing the game.

At the top of the file, locate the line that references the metar_api_key variable and insert you API token between the two single quotes as shown below:



(Naturally, you API token is going to look somewhat different from the one shown in the above picture.)

That completes the installation process. You should be ready to go!

Start MSFS 2020, select "UNREAL WEATHER - LIVE METAR" as your weather preset and enjoy. If everything is working correctly, you should see the current METAR data in your Weather Settings panel (see the example picture at the top of this post) and you weather should adjust dynamically according to the current METAR report from the monitoring station, closest your currect location. (Typically, an airfield.) As you move around the world, you will see the weather change.

The installation process is also shown in this nice video made by Flying Theston on YouTube:





HOW DO I CONFIGURE THE MOD?


While you have WeatherEditionMenu.js file open in your text editor, you may also want to consider making some adjustments to the mod's behavior, such as the polling frequency or weather transition speed. For example, reducing the transition step duration to just 0.1 sec provides smoother visuals, but required a more powerful PC. You can also enable and disable some of the weather features. Look for the correspoinding variables at the top of the file and make changes as needed. Keep in mind that any changes will be applied only after you fully restart Flight Simulator; they cannot be adjusted while in-flight.

A warning about the enable_aerosol_density flag: I left it disabled by default. The reason is that, while aerosol density works within the game just fine for the purpose of emulating fog, dust, mist and similar obscurations, changing it from one value to another, no matter how small the gap, causes MSFS 2020 to severely stutter while it recalulates the visuals. Occasionally adjusting that value via the in-game Weather menu is not an issue, but when this mod transitions the weather from one state to another, the aerosol density may change continuously for the whole transition period (if aerosol is specified in the weather report), causing an annoying prolonged FPS drop. That's especially severe on weak PCs. So, do not enable that flag, unless your rig can handle such situations or you just want to experiment.

You may also want to read this post: About the Weather Transitions and How They Work

WHAT DOES "RE-ROLL WEATHER" BUTTON DO?


While a typical METAR report contains many data points, the supplied information about some of them is approximate and insufficient in order to replicate the corresponding weather 100% correct within the game.

For example, the information about cloud layers is somewhat vague: it includes coverage and altitude, but layer thicknesses or scattering are not specified at all. The same applies to precipitation, aerosol density, etc.. Because of that, this mod adds the missing information in a random fashion, i.e. it is possible to get noticeably different results for any given METAR report.

Should a user dislike the automatic results, the "Re-roll Weather" button allows them to quickly recalculate the weather on the fly, as many times as they want. Each time the button is clicked, a new weather snapshot is generated, yet each new snapshot will still conform to the same METAR report. Note that this button works during weather transition periods as well.




KNOWN ISSUES AND LIMITATIONS


  • The weather is only updated when your session is live. It will not be reflected on the World Map or on the loading screen where you see the "Ready to Fly" button.

  • Please keep in mind that the METAR data is geographically patchy, as it is mostly provided by airfield stations. So if you are in the middle of nowhere, you may get stuck with the last report you have managed to catch, or keep getting updated reports from a far away station. For example, if you depart from New York and head East, you may keep receiving the current New York weather for a while until you get closer to some islands, or the coast of Africa or Europe.

  • (FIXED IN VER. 1.5) The Weather "Settings" menu panel does not update itself continuously, so it may appear that the temperature, pressure, snow cover values etc. are not being updated. To get around that, just select any of the cloud or wind layers and then click back on "Settings" to see the actual current values:




HOW TO CONTACT ME


Please send any feedback to me at unrealweathermetar /at/ gmail /dot/ com.

Have fun and stay safe!

Unreal Weather - Live METAR Version 1.7 Has Been Released!

Please see the main post for the details about this release: Unreal Weather - Live METAR