February 1994 Forecast -- Flux Range 93 - 108

by Roy, AD5Q - Houston, Texas

It is February, and all beams are focused on a remote island in the Antarctic. After spending about 2 days unloading the Russian icebreaker by helicopter and putting up antennas, the Peter 1st Island expedition fired up all four stations at once. As I write this, they have been on for less than 48 hours but will be active for 2 weeks. So far, they have been heard on all bands from 10 thru 40 (including WARC).

Because of their location, the lowband situation is unique. After the 3Y sunset, nighttime is less than 5 hours and it never really gets dark. During this time, they will enjoy continuous grey line propagation on an easterly path as sunrise sweeps from Russia completely across Europe. In the other direction, sunset moves across the Pacific, finishing the 3Y "night" with a pass across Japan. These areas should have excellent opportunities for contacts on 80 Meters, while North America will have a more conventional nighttime path into this greyline zone. Since it is winter here, higher bands close early at night - but the southerly direction is the last to close.

At the peak of the sunspot cycle, February is the month when 20 Meters re-opens for all-night DX propagation. At the bottom, evening windows to Russia and over the pole are much shorter, and are at their best in late spring. For the next few months, we will be in transition, with improving nighttime propagation on 20. This winter, 20 has closed in the early evening and so has the 30 Meter WARC band. The best evening path to Europe was therefore on 40. As we move into spring, watch for this european path to open on 30 Meters in advance of the seasonal opening on 20.

For now, there is plenty of nightpath activity on the low bands. Openings are predictable, with Europe and Africa (east) in the evening and Asia, the Pacific and Australia (west) opening after midnight and through to sunrise. Reliable daypath propagation is to be found on 15 and 17, with less than reliable openings on 12 & 10. Activity is very sparse on 10 CW, but east/west propagation is a daily occurrence. A good place to look for African contacts would be 10 SSB. 20 Meters goes through the most dramatic seasonal changes, propagating across nighttime paths in the late spring and summer, and across daytime paths in winter. 15 Meters goes through similar changes at the peak of the cycle. At this time of the year, 20 opens nicely to Europe, Russia and over the pole in the morning for a couple hours.

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