In response to the Government adding solar storms to the National Risk Register (NRR) of Civil Emergencies in 2011, the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC) was created to provide a UK operational space weather prediction centre to help protect the country from the serious threats posed by space weather events.
CMEs are often associated with flares and are eruptions of large amounts of matter and energetic particles from the solar atmosphere. These can take days to reach Earth, carrying a local magnetic field from the Sun, and their arrival time is the focus of space weather forecasting. We use the state of the art NOAA ‘ENLIL’ computer model to predict the arrival time of CMEs. This enables prediction of CMEs impacting Earth within plus or minus six hours (at best). While the Met Office can forecast a CME and its direction of travel, the capability to ascertain whether a CME will have an effect on the Earth is limited to one satellite. Depending on the speed of the CME, this observation will give 20 to 30 minutes warning before the CME has an effect on the Earth.