May 1996 Forecast -- Flux Range 66 - 78

by Roy, AD5Q - Houston, Texas

With most of the Arctic Ocean now exposed to 24 hour daylight, we have excellent polar windows both in the morning and evening on 20 Meters. These extend to the southern reaches of Asia which are among the most difficult parts of the world to reach from North America. Europeans will find these same windows open to their favorite part of the world to work: the Pacific. It is now early May, so these evening windows are still not open to the northeast as they will be a month from now. The MUF along this path still needs to go a little higher. From Texas, this will open the band to the heavily populated areas of Russia (there are lots of hams in the Ukraine) plus the Middle East. The West Coast already has this opening because it is a true polar path to them. As 20 Meter band closings move later into the night, larger areas of the earth will be workable for longer durations. At the peak of the solar cycle, these night paths open up during February!

This is also the season where the molecular density of the ionosphere starts to thin due to heating. Daytime MUFs start to trend lower, and this keeps 20 open in the morning for several hours after sunrise. Polar Asians are starting to come through nicely in the morning from Zone 26. A morning path to the east coast of Asia will open up later this month, and will remain open through the summer. These openings make the WPX CW contest an interesting event at the low end of the cycle. Nobody expects much activity on 15 or 10.

Daypaths are also open on 20, so you can still work Europeans in the morning and Asians in the late afternoon. During the WPX, the East Coast can expect to have a path to Europe for most of the day which the rest of us will envy.

40 is still in great shape, and opens in the evening to the European parts of Russia that are not yet accessible on 20. This is a sunrise opening where we work into the area of daylight and follow it across Europe. Morning brings an excellent opening to Asia lasting over an hour. 40 Meter contacts count double points in the WPX.

The lowband season is waning, and most DX activity will move to 20 Meters. Alternative bands are 17 and 30 Meters, and 40 will be usable through the summer (but noisy). 10, 15 and 80 will remain marginally useful. Southern hemisphere DX can be worked through the summer on 80 at our sunrise (especially VK/ZL). Sporadic-E season is here for 10 & 6 Meter SSB short skip work.

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