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TOC > Usage overview > WMS request in Python

Use case: anticipated profits based on precipitations probability


Weather, climate and water data from MSC GeoMet geospatial web services can be easily used to predict demand associated with certain products or services. This usage example show how to extract and process raw meteorological data with Python programming language to create a tool to calculate anticipated profits from sales depending on meteorological conditions. This use case teaches you how to:

  • Access and query meteorological data from MSC GeoMet geospatial web services;
  • Query layers to get data for specific locations;
  • Create temporal queries;
  • Show results in different formats including plots and data tables.

The interactive version of this Jupyter Notebook is available.


Creation of a tool to calculate anticipated profits

Consider the following situation: Arthur, a souvenir kiosk owner in Vancouver, wants to calculate the profits he anticipates making from umbrellas sales using Environment and Climate Change Canada weather forecast. Indeed, his umbrellas sales increase drastically when there is at least 30% chance that there will be a minimum of 5 mm of precipitations. Considering that the kiosk is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, Arthur wants to calculate how much profits he anticipates to make in the following days according to the weather forecast obtained from MSC GeoMet geospatial web services.

To determinate the amount of umbrellas that is predicted to be sold in the next days, the first step is to query the Web Map Service (WMS) from MSC to get the probability of getting 5 mm or more of precipitations for the time, the date and the location desired through Python programming. To carry out this step, the Python modules must first be imported and values must be given to the request parameters including the layer name, the coordinates of the location and the local time zone. The layer used for this exemple will be the layer from the Regional Ensemble Prediction System (REPS) that contains the probability that the quantity of precipitations will be equal or greater than 5 mm (REPS.DIAG.3_PRMM.ERGE5).

In [1]:
# Importation of Python modules 
from datetime import datetime, timedelta
import re
import warnings

# The following modules must first be installed to use 
# this code out of Jupyter Notebook
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import matplotlib.dates as mdates
import numpy
from owslib.wms import WebMapService
import pandas
from tabulate import tabulate

# Ignore warnings from the OWSLib module
warnings.filterwarnings('ignore', module='owslib', category=UserWarning)

# Parameters choice
# Layer:
layer = 'REPS.DIAG.3_PRMM.ERGE5'
# Coordinates:
y, x = 49.288, -123.116
# Local time zone (in this exemple, the local time zone is UTC-07:00):
time_zone = -7

Once the parameters are chosen, the request's bbox parameter values (location aimed by the query) have to be calculated.

In [2]:
# bbox parameter
min_x, min_y, max_x, max_y = x - 0.25, y - 0.25, x + 0.25, y + 0.25

To access the layer metadata, the connection to the WMS service has to be established.

In [3]:
# WMS service connection
wms = WebMapService('https://geo.weather.gc.ca/geomet?SERVICE=WMS' +

The starting and ending time of the available predictions and the time interval between available predictions can be recovered with a GetCapabilities request. In this request, dimensions refers to the homonymous section in the layer's metadata that contains temporal information. As dimensions is a Python dictionary, it is possible to recover the necessary information using dictionary keys and the split method to split character chains around the slash symbol. For the time interval, the numbers can be recovered with the re.sub method that replace all the characters that are not numerical with empty space.

Then, the time and date of all available predictions from the starting time to the ending time for the UTC±00:00 time zone can be obtained with a while loop. Theses informations are necessary to carry out the WMS request. The same while loop will be used to get the local time and date of all the predictions. The local time and date will be used in the plots and data tables in order to facilitate the result interpretation.

In [4]:
# Extraction of temporal information from metadata
def time_parameters(layer):
    start_time, end_time, interval = (wms[layer]
    iso_format = '%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ'
    start_time = datetime.strptime(start_time, iso_format)
    end_time = datetime.strptime(end_time, iso_format)
    interval = int(re.sub(r'\D', '', interval))
    return start_time, end_time, interval

start_time, end_time, interval = time_parameters(layer)

# To use specific starting and ending time, remove the #
# from the next lines and replace the start_time and
# end_time with the desired values:
# start_time = 'YYYY-MM-DDThh:00'
# end_time = 'YYYY-MM-DDThh:00'
# fmt = '%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M'
# start_time = datetime.strptime(start_time, fmt) - timedelta(hours=time_zone)
# end_time = datetime.strptime(end_time, fmt) - timedelta(hours=time_zone)

# Calculation of date and time for available predictions
# (the time variable represents time at UTC±00:00)
time = [start_time]
local_time = [start_time + timedelta(hours=time_zone)]
while time[-1] < end_time:
    time.append(time[-1] + timedelta(hours=interval))
    local_time.append(time[-1] + timedelta(hours=time_zone))

The WMS service can now be queried. To get the probability of getting 5 mm or more of precipitations for each available prediction, a for loop is used to query the WMS service with each prediction time and date as parameters. As the results of the request contains different informations, the probability has to be recovered from the results. To achieve this, regular expressions (re module) can be used to find a character chain. Regular expressions, also called regex, are expressions that describe a search pattern. In this use case exemple, the regex used are \s (whitespace character), \d (numerical characters), * (0 or more characters from the regex present before it) et + (1 or more characters from the regex present before it). Using the re.findall methods, all the the character chains corresponding to the regex expression given will be extracted. The re.sub and strip methods will also be used to remove the characters present around the value we are looking for.

In [5]:
# Loop to carry out the requests and extract the probabilities
def request(layer): 
    info = []
    pixel_value = []
    for timestep in time:
        # WMS GetFeatureInfo query
                                       bbox=(min_x, min_y, max_x, max_y),
                                       size=(100, 100),
                                       xy=(50, 50),
                                       time=str(timestep.isoformat()) + 'Z'
        # Probability extraction from the request's results
        text = info[-1].read().decode('utf-8')
        pixel_value.append(str(re.findall(r'value_0\s+\d*.*\d+', text)))
        pixel_value[-1] = float(
            re.sub('value_0 = \'', '', pixel_value[-1])
    return pixel_value

pixel_value = request(layer)

The probabilities obtained can be visualised with an interactive plot made with the matplotlib module that can be easily exported. With Jupyter Notebook, the interactive components can be activated with the magic command %matplotlib notebook.

In [6]:
# Remove the magic command to use out of Jupyter Notebook
%matplotlib notebook

# Function to adjust the alignment of two y axis
def align_yaxis(ax, ax2):
    y_lims = numpy.array([ax.get_ylim() for ax in [ax, ax2]])

    # Normalize both y axis
    y_magnitudes = (y_lims[:,1] - y_lims[:,0]).reshape(len(y_lims),1)
    y_lims_normalized = y_lims / y_magnitudes

    # Find combined range
    y_new_lims_normalized = numpy.array([numpy.min(y_lims_normalized), 

    # Denormalize combined range to get new axis
    new_lim1, new_lim2 = y_new_lims_normalized * y_magnitudes

# Function to create the plot
def fig(x, y, title, xlabel, ylabel, ylim, color = 'black', y2 = '', y2label = ''):
    # Plot and text size parameters
    params = {'legend.fontsize': '14',
              'figure.figsize': (8, 6),
              'axes.labelsize': '14',
              'axes.titlesize': '16',
              'xtick.labelsize': '12',
              'ytick.labelsize': '12'}

    # Plot creation and plot styling
    fig, ax = plt.subplots()
    ax.plot(x, y, marker='o')

    # Titles
    ax.set_ylabel(ylabel, color=color)

    # Y axis range
    ax.tick_params(axis='y', labelcolor=color)
    # Grid
    plt.grid(True, which='both')
    # Add a second dataset
    if y2 is not None:
        ax2 = plt.twinx()
        ax2.plot(x, y2, marker='o', color='tab:red')
        # Second y axis title
        ax2.set_ylabel(y2label, color='tab:red')
        # Range and ticks of second y axis
        ax2.set_ylim(0, (max(y2) * 1.1))
        ax2.tick_params(axis='y', labelcolor='tab:red')
        align_yaxis(ax, ax2)

    # Date format on x axis
    my_format = mdates.DateFormatter('%m/%d %H:%M')

    # Graduation of x axis depending on the number of values plotted
    # Variable containing the hours for which there will be ticks: 
    hour = []
    for timestep in x:

    # Frequency of ticks and labels on the x axis
    if len(hour) < 8:
        # More precise graduation if there is only a few values plotted
    elif len(hour) > 8 and len(hour) <25:
        ax.xaxis.set_major_locator(mdates.HourLocator(byhour=hour, interval=2))
        # Coarser graduation if there is a lot of values plotted
        ax.xaxis.set_minor_locator(mdates.HourLocator(byhour=(0, 12)))
    return fig

# Add quantity of precipitations to the plot
# Verification of temporal parameters compatibility:
start_time1, end_time1, interval1 = time_parameters('REPS.DIAG.3_PRMM.ERMEAN')

if (start_time1 == start_time
        and end_time1 == end_time
        and interval1 == interval):
    # GetFeatureInfo request
    y2 = request(layer = 'REPS.DIAG.3_PRMM.ERMEAN')
    y2label = 'Quantity of precipitations (mm)'
    y2 = None
    y2label = None

# Create the plot with the fig function and show the plot
fig(x = local_time,
    y = pixel_value,
    title = ('Probability of getting 5 mm or more of precipitations between' +
             f'\n{local_time[0]} and {local_time[-1]} (local time)'),
    xlabel = '\nDate and time',
    ylabel = 'Probability of getting 5 mm\nor more of precipitations (%)',
    ylim = (-10, 110),
    y2 = y2,
    y2label = y2label