This paper tests the Araki  computational model of the Earth-ionosphere system during geomagnetic sudden commencement (sc). In particular, we test the model’s ability to predict the signs of the preliminary and main impulses, given the latitude and the magnetic local time (MLT), using a case study of an sc which occurred at 0949 UT on November 22, 1997. Data from a global network of magnetometer stations and from satellites are used. Model predictions compare well with the case study data at high latitudes (above ∼ 72°N Altitude Adjusted Corrected Geomagnetic Coordinates (AACGM)), less well for lower latitudes, particularly on the nightside. In addition, the position of the footprints of the field-aligned currents (FACs) associated with the sc ground signature varies with MLT, contrary to the model. Data from satellites in polar and geostationary orbits suggest that the FACs for both the preliminary and the main impulses map to gradients in magnetospheric plasma concentration, such as the outer radiation belt and the plasmapause.