How extreme and hazardous weather warnings are triggered in Pokemon GO

Weather Pokemon GO
Weather Pokemon GO

We have observed an increasing number of Twitter complaints, mentioning that the in-game extreme weather is appearing too frequently, often in conditions that should not be considered extreme for the region.

As extreme weather levels prevent any type of weather bonus to occur, we decided to investigate and see what’s causing this and is it expected in-game behavior or a bug.

TLDR version:

  • The game relies on multiple weather alarm services around the world. Those weather services publish weather alarms that use a Level 1 through 4 scale to describe alarm severity:
    • Hazardous weather (warning, bonuses still active) is triggered by a Level 2 alarm
    • Extreme weather is triggered if any of your regional weather services issues an Level 3 or 4 alarm
  • We don’t know if the game is using OpenWeatherMap data to determine extreme weather, but it doesn’t seem likely
  • The system is over tuned and over protective (in our opinion), but it doesn’t seem to have many bugs and it seems to work reliably across the globe

What triggers extreme weather?

Instead of relying on only one weather provider, Niantic is relying on multiple weather providers and weather alarm services.

If any of those services triggers a weather alert, your in-game weather will display a warning. Depending on the level of that weather alert, the in-game level may display a different warning message.

We are not sure if this is the case for every country / region in the world, but a large number of weather services publishes weather warnings using the following scale:

  •  Level 1  – no weather danger
  •  Level 2  – the weather is potentially dangerous
  •  Level 3  – the weather is dangerous
  •  Level 4  – the weather is very dangerous

The in-game hazardous and extreme weather conditions are activated if the local weather service publishes the following alerts:

  • Level 2 alert 🡒 Hazardous weather warning
  • Level 3 and Level 4 alerts 🡒 Extreme weather

This was confirmed by dozens of reports on our Twitter:

Our initial observation leads us to believe that European weather conditions are determined by if there is no better source of information at the moment.

We are unable to find strong evidence of Accuweather influencing the in-game weather in US or Asia, but there is something going on there.

However, there are some interesting tidbits of information elsewhere – OpenWeatherMap.

What’s the deal with OpenWeatherMap?

The in-game map recently has shifted from using Google Maps to using OpenStreetMap’s street data. OSM is a free service and OpenWeatherMap could mistakenly be considered as it’s weather based counterpart.

OpenWeatherMap is not free, nor is it open in the same way OpenStreetMap is. OWM is a full on software product, with pricing, licencing and more.

Regardless of it’s nature, OWM provides a plethora of interesting APIs, such as an API that publishes weather conditions and codes for a region / coordinates / city:

ID Meaning
900 tornado
901 tropical storm
902 hurricane
903 cold
904 hot
905 windy
906 hail

However, we are unable to share any further insights into this at the moment. We did create a developer account and tried using the service, but the data received was not matching the in-game weather or weather warning. We’ll need to re-test with a city in a different country and update you later on.

Antonio started the Hub in July 2016 and hasn't had much sleep since. Software developer. Discord username: Zeroghan. 28 years old.