Conditions during February were better than would be expected, because solar fluxes held in the 80's for much of the month. 15 Meter conditions during the ARRL CW were very good, with several multi-multi and single band efforts finishing with 1000+ contacts on this band. We are now approaching the equinox, and conditions on 80 & 160 are still quite good. This writer is awe-struck at the receiving performance of the EWE antenna, and will soon be QRV with them in four directions on two bands using some simple shortcuts.
The lowband season is starting to fade, but the band to watch for dramatic improvement will be 20 Meters. Worldwide coverage on this band involves propagation across nighttime paths, paths where the sun is low in the sky, or combination day/night paths. These options are limited in winter since 20 closes promptly after sunset, making northerly DX windows very narrow. Evening openings are already improving. The grey zone is aligning itself over the pole, and much of the evening DX is on the polar path into Siberia. This window will widen, and by late spring will include the heavily populated areas of Russia. DX signals will be wall to wall across the band, and will have that hollow polar echo we all know and love.
For the next several months, pipeline conditions will exist on 20 primarily in the evening and in the morning. In late afternoon and evening, you work into the areas where the sun has recently risen. In the morning, you work into areas where it has recently set (or is about to). In early spring, this means we work the polar regions and eastern Asia in the evening. For several hours in the morning, we work over the pole (again) and across to the west (Russia and Europe).
As summer approaches, this pattern will shift and we will work Asia in the morning and Europe at night. At the bottom of the cycle (we are not there yet), the polar paths into southern Asia become narrower and close for much of the year. The late spring gives us our best shot at this part of the world. This year we will often have Antarctic long path openings to southern Asia, but not like at the peak of the cycle. From the southern USA, morning Antarctic paths are the most fun because we consistently wax the east coast in pileups (unless they go by call areas).
Let's not forget the lowbands at equinox time. QRN levels are declining in the southern hemisphere, and this is the time when activity picks up across the southerly paths. 15 will continue to open regularly to Europe for a few months, but conditions will usually be marginal with limited access to eastern Europe and Russia. The QRO guys will come through fine. 10 Meters is fine if you speak fluent spanish and don't like CW.