Satellite images

Satellite images can often be used to help meteorologists to forecast the weather over the next 12, 24 and 36 hours. Satellites will usually show the cloud patterns over an area. For example a swirl of white cloud on an infrared satellite image often means that a depression is moving in.

The Satellite image below shows an anticyclone over the British Isles with the centre over the North Sea and impacting the North of Scotland the most.

Photograph of Synoptic chart and Satellite image for Sat 18 July 2017

Synoptic chart and Satellite image for 18 July 2017

The limitations in using satellites for forecasting

Range

The models that are used by meteorologists to predict the weather are accurate only up to 6 days. It is more difficult to measure the weather beyond this as winds can change and pressures hold steady for longer periods of time.

Accuracy

The weather forecasts struggle with accuracy - especially on the local level. There are so many climatic and local variations in weather conditions that can affect the accuracy of a forecast.

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