Aspot image

Lightning Imager’s data debut in time for storm season


Pre-operational data from Europe’s first satellite-borne lightning imager are released today, just in time for the summer storm season

Aspot image
Aspot image

Weather forecasters around Europe and beyond began receiving pre-operational data from Europe’s first satellite-borne lightning imager today, just in time for the summer storm season.

Last Updated

10 July 2024

Published on

08 July 2024

Europe’s meteorological satellite agency, EUMETSAT, has begun disseminating data from the instrument, carried on the Meteosat Third Generation – Imager 1 (MTG-I1) satellite, which was launched at the end of 2022. The Lightning Imager was built by Leonardo.

“This is the first time weather forecasters from Europe and Africa will have access to this type of data, which we expect will help them monitor and predict the development, track and severity of storm activity,” EUMETSAT Director-General Phil Evans said.

“This is important information for the protection of communities and vital industries, such as aviation, during severe weather events.

“Severe storms are often preceded by abrupt changes in lightning activity. By observing these changes in activity, Lightning Imager data will give weather forecasters additional confidence in their forecasts of severe storms.”

The Lightning Imager on MTG-I1 has four cameras with fields of view covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East, parts of South America and most of the Atlantic Ocean.

The cameras continuously observe lightning activity from space and can capture 1,000 images per second, detecting even a single lightning flash faster than the blink of an eye.

EUMETSAT has begun disseminating the data to weather services in its member states and other users. Crucially, EUMETSAT is delivering the data to weather services in Africa and other regions where lightning detection capability with ground-based observations is limited.

The dissemination is currently pre-operational. This means that, although the quality of the data is the same as that of operational data, there could be some disruptions for testing or software upgrades, for example.

“During the European summer there is often storm activity,” Evans said. “This is an opportune time to provide Lightning Imager data to weather forecasters.

“The feedback we receive will help us validate the data later this year when we switch to an operational service. The switch to an operational service is expected to be seamless and without disruption to users of the data.”

EUMETSAT will schedule training on use of the Lightning Imager data to ensure users gain maximum benefit. For more information, please see

To access the data:

Find out more about EUMETSAT

Press release translations