March 1994 Forecast -- Flux Range 85 - 101

by Roy, AD5Q - Houston, Texas

The lowband season is nearing its end, and it has been a very good one. With higher bands closed for nightpath work, activity has moved to the lower frequencies and provided a rich variety of workable DX amidst the QRN. The recent operation from Peter 1 had excellent lowband signals on most nights, and was worked by many.

Higher bands are starting to open up at night. 30 Meters is opening nicely over polar paths in the evening, and 20 doesn't shut down completely until after midnight. Still, nighttime MUF's are not high enough to open the evening pipeline into Europe and Russia. This will come later in the spring.

In the morning, the best path into Europe is on 15, making 20 a difficult band to play in contests. In the ARRL CW, we had several good openings limited to the northernmost parts of Europe and Russia. Openings to the remainder of the continent were marginal, so only the louder stations were workable. Japan was also marginal. Portions of the US closer to Europe had it better. For several hours after 15 closed to Europe, persistent begging by East coast Big Guns paid off with a 20 Meter contact for every 10 - 20 CQs. My own 20M single-band effort wasn't as successful. Those that had a choice filled their logs on 15 by day and 40 by night. Seasonally, all this will change in the coming months. Evening pipelines to Europe and Russia will return, so the WPX CW (late May) should be its usual rate-fest.

Good DX propagation on 40 will continue through the spring, with activity moving to 20 as nightpath conditions improve. The 80 Meter season is on its way out, but spring brings better opportunities to work parts of the world where it is summer in January. The same can be said for 160, but I do not have sufficient station capability or experience to speak for Top Band operators.

Springtime conditions should also improve propagation on 17, 15 and 12. 15 remains mostly a daypath band, but the region of daylight in the northern hemisphere is expanding. This provides us with broader openings (longer openings and wider coverage) over all northerly paths. A few Europeans are still coming through on 10, since solar fluxes above 100 are still fairly common. March is the final good month of the 10 Meter season, even at the top of the cycle. Increased high latitude solar exposure is not good for the ionosphere, and the effects begin on 10 right after the equinox. They work their way down to 15 Meters by July.

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