A comparison between surface-observed total, low and high cloud amount and retrievals from METEOSAT radiance data made using the cluster technique of Desbois et al. has been undertaken. Observations for 12.00 GMT for the 20 day period 22nd July to 10th August 1983 were compared with retrievals made from METEOSAT radiances measured at 11.30 GMT. The comparisons for total and low cloud amount were made for 204 stations covering France, southern Britain and West Germany although high cloud amount comparisons were not possible for France, so only 114 stations were used. The location and time period were selected to coincide with one of the regions designated for the validation phase of the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, ISCCP. The results are generally good: for total cloud amount 30% of retrievals were fully in agreement and 64% of the differences were within ±1 okta. As anticipated, the surface observations offered additional information oin low cloud cover in multi-layer situations. Surface observers were also found to identify thin cirrus which was not detected by the satellite retrieval and to detect small gaps in cloud decks and small clouds missed by the satellite retrieval.