Weather Datarefs in X-Plane 12

The old weather datarefs have been marked as deprecated in X-Plane 12 and replaced with two new sets. The old ones will remain in place but anything referencing them should be changed to use the new ones as soon as possible. The good news is that this should be fairly straightforward.

Previously the values returned in the datarefs were relative to the user's aircraft. This was fine for handling instrumentation but not ideal for working with the wider environment. There are now two similar sets of datarefs, one for the weather at the aircraft's exact position, and one for the surrounding region.


In general, all the old datarefs that lived under sim/aircraft/ have been moved under sim/weather/aircraft/ with very similar names. The only real thing to note here is that in some cases, units have changed. Also, all these aircraft-specific datarefs are read-only. This makes sense; the aircraft's immediate environment is a point sample from the regional weather.

Cloud, wind and turbulence datarefs are no longer represented by individual datarefs with an array-like notation, they are handled as real arrays. This means you should do proper array handling of these by querying the size of the array using XPLMGetDatavf() before your first read, and allocating enough space accordingly. Doing this will allow your code to continue to work with no changes if in the future the array size is changed. Temperature and wind arrays have already been increased to 13 elements from 3.

It's important to remember that the aircraft's immediate environment is a snapshot of a single point in a simulated 3D volume. This volume contains deliberate variations from whatever the base weather is, whether that's a fixed preset coming from the UI or a composite of available real-weather data if this is enabled. You should not, in other words, expect any value reported at the aircraft's position to exactly match any value you may see elsewhere that isn’t based on the aircraft’s position.


New for X-Plane 12, the base weather that defines the aircraft's surrounding region is provided as a distinct set of datarefs under sim/weather/region/. Right now 'region' roughly corresponds to a square degree but this may vary in the future. The region base values determine a starting point for X-Plane's own weather simulation, which gets added on top. As with the aircraft's datarefs, this means that you should not expect any value returned in these datarefs to exactly match any value you see elsewhere since the weather at any given point is taken from the combination of the base weather and the weather simulation, not the starting data for that simulation.

Atmospheric Altitude Levels

Atmospheric temperatures are defined at preset altitudes which can be found in sim/weather/region/atmosphere_alt_levels_m . If you are working with temperatures aloft, please use the altitudes given in this array and don't hard-code them. The altitudes, or the number of layers, may change.

Modifying the Region

Most of the regional datarefs are writeable, meaning that you can use these to change the weather in a large volume surrounding the user's aircraft.

This controls X-Plane's internal weather simulation, when used with static weather, by setting a general trend over time.

This controls the internal weather simulation's variability for those parts which use random noise to generate variation. The base weather also varies with distance from a given reference point. Typically the reference point would be the selected airport if you use the UI to select a weather preset, for example.

When this is non-zero, any changes to any regional dataref except clouds will take place immediately. Otherwise, the changes will start to fade in over a short period of time, currently 1-2 minutes. Clouds are handled a little differently because there is a delay between the cloud data being determined and the results of the GPU-based cloud simulation being returned. Even with update_immediately set to true, clouds will generally take a minute or so to update to the new values. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every cumulonimbus in the room, you can use the sim/operation/regen_weather command to trigger an immediate full reset of the current weather.

API Access

For simpler access if you are using a programming language that can use it, the X-Plane SDK contains some basic weather data access functions. These allow you to get a weather snapshot – that is, the equivalent of the aircraft datarefs, the output of the base weather plus the weather simulation – at a specific point.

While you are free to request weather for distant locations, the accuracy of the data returned will drop significantly outside of the current region. Errors are reported via the standard XPLMSetErrorCallback() mechanism.

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