Some WMS (especially the ones made through ArcGIS) only returns actual images with data at certain zoom levels. At other zoom levels, it will return blank images. I know the server is setup to do that but is there a way around this to force WMS to return images with data at all zoom levels?

The server returns actual image data at this zoom level:


The same server returns a blank image at higher zoom level:


(note that it is made using ArcGIS MapServer)

Another server that returns at all zoom level (GeoServer):


1 Answer 1


If you look at the GetCapabilities answer of that server https://hazards.fema.gov/nfhl/services/public/NFHLWMS/MapServer/WmsServer?SERVICE=WMS&VERSION=1.3.0&REQUEST=GetCapabilities you can see that layer 4 has a scale limit that is set with keyword MaxScaleDenominator. The administrator of the service has considered that it is not appropriate to show the layer when the scale is smaller than 1:47247.023810 (small scale = big denominator). User can not override this server side configuration.

This is how the WMS 1.3.0 standard defines scale denominators Scale denominators

The and elements define the range of scales for which it is appropriate to generate a map of a Layer.

<Layer queryable="1">
<![CDATA[ Flood Hazard Zones ]]>
<![CDATA[ Labels for flood zones. ]]>
<BoundingBox CRS="CRS:84" minx="-170.848402" miny="-14.375160" maxx="145.832194" maxy="66.610582"/>
<BoundingBox CRS="EPSG:4326" minx="-14.375160" miny="-170.848402" maxx="66.610582" maxy="145.832194"/>
<BoundingBox CRS="EPSG:4269" minx="-14.375160" miny="-170.848402" maxx="66.610582" maxy="145.832194"/>
<![CDATA[ Flood Hazard Zones ]]>
<LegendURL width="300" height="144">
<OnlineResource xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" xlink:href="https://hazards.fema.gov/nfhl/services/public/NFHLWMS/MapServer/WmsServer?request=GetLegendGraphic%26version=1.3.0%26format=image/png%26layer=4" xlink:type="simple"/>

There is no issue with the server but it works as it is configured to work.

  • So there is no way to bypass this to get the actual image with data on all scales? Commented May 3, 2021 at 14:28
  • 1
    No, the server administrator does not want you to do that. All what you can do is to contact them, despite to develop some poor workaround and stretch the last available image on the client side to scales outside the supported range.
    – user30184
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 15:19
  • Can you make that explicit in your answer at the top. I will accept it then. I knew the server is configured that way, was just looking if there is a way to bypass it. Commented May 3, 2021 at 15:59

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