Why do we continue to use fake satellite imagery in TV weather forecasts?

In the last few years we have discovered about the dangers of ‘fake’ news in social media, but did you know that fake satellite imagery is used widely in TV weather forecasts? A presenter can just drag a mouse along a slider in his visualisation software to obliterate any of that nasty low cloud that plagues our sceptred isle, or gets in way of his story much as Tomasz Schafernaker must have done today. As well as not identifying the source of NWP, Meteogroup don’t reveal the source (or the bandwidth) of any satellite imagery they use either. Obviously they have to fallback on infrared imagery at night and I can understand why they don’t use that very often, but in the daytime why don’t they display the latest unadulterated visible satellite image warts and all instead of fiddling with it as they do?

There are many benefits of looking at ‘raw’ visible satellite images, take todays as an example. If I lived in the west of Wales or in parts of the southwest of England and had just watched the animated satellite sequence in the BBC weather forecast, I would be bemused to find that instead of it being sunny with blue skies outside, it was overcast with a full cover of stratus at 300 feet.

Why isn’t satellite imagery used more?

I remember looking at animations of hi-resolution rapid scan visible satellite imagery (5 minute frequency) over 10 years ago when I worked at the Met Office. It was so impressive, you could even see individual cumulus cells growing and sprouting in real-time on a summer’s day. Whatever happened to that technology? Why isn’t that available to all? I imagine the short answer to that question is that EUMETSAT just sit on it – a bit like Smaug the dragon sits on his great pile of gold in the Hobbit – and it must be very expensive to license its use.

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