May 1993 Forecast -- Flux Range 91 - 140

by Roy, AD5Q - Houston, Texas

April was not a good month. We had disturbed solar conditions for much of the month, and our solar flux levels took another hit. If you tried to go by my April forecast, you probably pitched it out the window. It was not written with the contemplation that flux levels would be in the 90's. Toward the end of the month, they did get up above 120 and openings were pretty good on 15. It looks like fluxes are going to range from about 85 to 130 for the rest of this year, and we must downsize our DXing expectations accordingly.

May will still be the best month for 15 meter propagation, but will not approach the awesome conditions we enjoyed at the sunspot peak. At this time of year, MUF's rise slowly in the morning and decline slowly at night. This means that 15 will open late in the morning, but remain open well after sunset. This also means that DX paths will be open in different directions than you would expect. 15 opened slowly even at the sunspot peak for short path work, but we also had regular long path openings to Europe and Africa in the early morning. Then, we could cruise both 15 and 20 long path for rare DX at the same time and with the same beam heading. With these lower flux levels, 15 is quiet in the morning, and 20 long path is unreliable.

When 15 finally does open, you are as likely to find Asian (9M, 9V, YB, 1S) propagation as Europe, and the band is also open over the pole. If fluxes are in the 90's, don't expect much of an opening at all on 15. Move to a lower band, like 20 or 17 Meters. 20 is good for short path contacts for several hours after sunrise nowadays, and also for several hours prior to sunset. The late afternoon hours are a good time to cruise 20 for Africans. During the evening, the band will echo with an abundance of signals from Russia.

Considering the low flux levels we will likely have for much of this month, 15 Meters will often be disappointing for daypath work. The 17 Meter WARC band is an interesting alternative. Daypath conditions on this band will probably be very good even with fluxes in the 90's. DX paths would be open to many parts of the world, much as we would expect on 15 at this time of year. 40 Meters remains a good night path alternative to 20, but you will often have to copy through loud static crashes.

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