The Great "Non-Event" of 7 January 2014: Challenges in CME Arrival Time and Geomagnetic Storm Strength Prediction

Friday, 19 December 2014: 8:45 AM
M. Leila Mays1,2, Barbara J Thompson1, Lan Jian3, Rebekah M Evans1,4, Neel Savani5, Dusan Odstrcil6, Teresa Nieves-Chinchilla1,2 and Ian G Richardson1, (1)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (2)Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, United States, (3)University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States, (4)Oak Ridge Associated Universities Inc., Oak Ridge, TN, United States, (5)Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, United States, (6)George Mason University Fairfax, Computational and Data Sciences, Fairfax, VA, United States
We present a case study of the 7 January 2014 event in order to highlight current challenges in space weather forecasting of CME arrival time and geomagnetic storm strength. On 7 January 2014 an X1.2 flare and CME with a radial speed ~2400 km/s was observed from active region 11943. The flaring region was only ten degrees southwest of disk center with extensive dimming south of the active region and preliminary analysis indicated a fairly rapid arrival at Earth (~36 hours). Of the eleven forecasting groups world-wide who participated in CCMC's Space Weather Scoreboard (, nine predicted early arrivals and six predicted dramatic geomagnetic storm impacts (Kp predictions ranged from 6 to 9). However, the CME only had a glancing blow arrival at Earth - Kp did not rise above 3 and there was no geomagnetic storm. What happened? One idea is that the large coronal hole to the northeast of the active region could have deflected the CME. This coronal hole produced a high speed stream near Earth reaching an uncommon speed of 900 km/s four days after the observed CME arrival. However, no clear CME deflection was observed in the outer coronagraph fields of view (~5-20Rs) where CME measurements are derived to initiate models, therefore deflection seems unlikely. Another idea is the effect of the CME flux rope orientation with respect to Earth orbit. We show that using elliptical major and minor axis widths obtained by GCS fitting for the initial CME parameters in ENLIL would have improved the forecast to better reflect the observed glancing blow in-situ signature. We also explore the WSA-ENLIL+Cone simulations, the background solar wind solution, and compare with the observed CME arrival at Venus (from Venus Express) and Earth.