February 1993 Forecast -- Flux Range 116 - 188

by Roy, AD5Q - Houston, Texas

Throughout the sunspot peak, February has been the month when all-night openings return to 20 Meters. With the lower fluxes this year, we may not see the return of these conditions until March. Night path on 20 is important to certain contesters who lack beams on 40 and typically make 90% of all contacts with a tribander (me). I rely on this path to Europe and Russia to run up my QSO totals, while the east coast runs the same path on 40 with their beams. In contests when this path is not open, I loose about 500 contacts and spend the night on low bands pouncing for multipliers.

My benchmark for comparison is the ARRL CW DX contest, which occurs in late February. Through the sunspot peak, 20 has been open through the night each year (except in 1990, when solar conditions were bad). During the CQWW CW test (late November) MUFs are lower. 1989 was the only year that 20 stayed open through the night. We will be lucky if we get all-night 20 meter openings for the ARRL CW this year. Low band capabilities will increase in importance.

DX conditions on 40 are currently excellent, and we can look forward to an extended season on 80 this spring. Conditions on 10 Meters are sharply off this year. 10 is an important rate band during the ARRL, but this year the openings will probably be much shorter. The east coast will have openings to parts of Europe and Russia that will not be accessible by the time the band opens for us. Most of the everyday DX activity has already moved to 15, and code free Novice/Techs will soon be faced with a difficult decision if they wish to continue making DX contacts: practice CW or learn Spanish.

20 meter long path conditions have also deteriorated. The westerly long path to Africa is still good, and remains open until about 11:am local time (though you'll have to fight the sixes in the pileups). Through the sunspot peak, winter has been the best season for the Antarctic paths to Europe, Russia, the [Middle East and India/4S7. With the lower MUFs, a daytime path to Europe may be open instead - or both paths at once. Signals can be difficult to copy when propagating over short and long paths simultaneously. When this occurs, it is important to recognize that when the signal coming off the back of your beam is strong enough to cause QRM, you are pointing the wrong way. Turning the beam 180 degrees (at the stronger signal) will usually eliminate this multipath QRM.

Return to Article Index Page