April was disappointing. For the first half of the month we had a recurrence of the disturbed conditions from March. The bands opened up later in the month as these disturbances moved to the other side of the sun. The first half of May will likely bring yet another two weeks of poor conditions. Aside from this, late spring is an excellent season for DXing - especially on 20. There is still another problem.
During the 2 weeks of quiet conditions in late April, fluxes were mostly down in the 70's. We should still expect periods where they are higher, and hope that they range from the 70's to the 90's. The most effected band in this range is 15 Meters. When in the low end of the range (as in late April), we get a taste of what 15 will sound like for the next few years. The band was mostly dead. Openings were marginal, with only a few european signals coming through. Without higher fluxes in May, there will be little DX on this band until the fall. East/west paths will be OK, so the band should be watched for openings to Africa and the Pacific. The same can be said of 10 Meters.
20 has opened up nicely, but still closes down completely after midnight. With flux levels in the 70's, the high latitude night path to Europe will not open (but check 30 Meters). After dark, a pipeline opens over the pole to Siberia, Turkestan (UI, UL, UM, UH, UJ), parts of Russia, and points further south. As we progress toward summer, these openings should expand westward to the more heavily populated portions of Russia and Ukraine - but not Europe. The best european openings seem to be in late afternoon and in the morning. Morning is also a good time for the polar paths, and this opening includes paths to eastern Asia. Signals from the S.E. quarter of Asia come through until noon. Careful tuning of 20 Meters in the morning can pay off nicely when the fluxes are too low to open Europe on 15. Contacts with 9V, BY, JT, 9M, V8, HS, S2, & BV can be made routinely nowadays, with rarer DX always a possibility. Long path is usually open for a couple hours after sunrise - mostly to the Indian Ocean and southern Africa.
17 Meters is another alternative for day path contacts into Europe, and recently has had more DX activity than 15. May should be an excellent month for this band. 40 also remains in good shape, with many nice long path and Asian contacts being made (mostly from the west coast). As I write this (May 3), the A index is back up to 30, and so that mess on the other side of the sun is returning for another go-around. This forecast is not valid until things clear up again.