August 1994 Forecast -- Flux Range 71 - 89

by Roy, AD5Q - Houston, Texas

Propagation in August is usually better than in July, but slightly. It is still summer, and our unresponsive ionosphere stifles most DX propagation on 10 thru 17. Sporadic E propagation peaks in May and June for 10 and 6 Meter stateside fun, but is still workable.

We had a period in the early part of July where the flux levels were in the 80's and geo condx were quiet. This coincided with the IARU Contest, and brought us 20 Meter contest conditions that we may not see again until after the sunspot bottom. Nighttime MUF's are at their highest in the spring and summer, but the only major DX contests during this period are the IARU and WPX CW. At the peak of the cycle, these are the only contests where you are likely to experience all-night polar and European openings on 15: awesome! This year, we were fortunate to have a late night path to Europe and Russia on 20 (my favorite opening). This was only because the flux was in the 80's, and we cannot expect this next year or the year after. Nightpaths are now closed during the fall/winter contest season on 20, but during solar peaks the European path is reliably open in the February ARRL CW. Only in exceptional years (1989) is it open during the CQWW CW in November, because nightime MUF'S are seasonally lower than in the ARRL. Nighttime QSO productivity over the next few years will depend on an effective 40 Meter capability.

For August, DX windows will remain narrow and most DX activity will be on 20. We have a nice opening to Asia in the morning, and the best path to Europe is in late afternoon. Westerly paths are open through the late evening, with potential openings to Europe when fluxes are high enough (80's).

The low bands are dominated by summer QRN, but the DX is still there on 40. 15 is mostly deserted, and we can only hope for better conditions in the fall. Last fall we saw the last of 10 Meter propagation to Europe amidst the plummeting fluxes. Openings were usually marginal, and did not cross the high latitude path into Russia (which requires fluxes higher that 120 from here). This fall, we expect a dismal season on 15 with fluxes in the 80's at best. 20 will shut down for nightpath work early in the fall. 40 will get very crowded and a new frontier will open on 80 and 160. The low bands get more attention at sunspot bottoms, and become the focus of many antenna projects. Still, overall interest in DXing drops.

Return to Article Index Page