October 1997 Forecast -- Flux Range 78 - 91

by Roy, AD5Q - Houston, Texas

15 Meters is back! Openings to Europe are better than we've seen in a while, and many stations are on testing out the path. From Texas, we are getting good openings to all of Europe, including Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. We are not getting Russia, but the East Coast probably is. It will take a higher solar flux to open up the polar paths, and this will not occur in the current season. This band will add much excitement to the CQWW SSB contest this year as long as disturbed conditions don't strike on contest weekend. 15 will be an important rate band for serious contesters, while packeteers and other wanna-bees will pile up on any DX station that's loud enough to hear with a G5RV. Afternoon openings to Asia are good, and stations on the East Coast are currently able to work the BV's and HL's that show up on the band. The afternoon JA runs will be good, with plenty of nice African pileups to crack in the interim after the band closes to Europe. East/West paths will open on 10, which should also be watched for African signals.

Though many are focused on the encouraging solar statistics, the major factor bringing us these band openings is seasonal. October is the peak of the fall DX season, especially for high latitude paths on the high bands. We are still near the bottom of the cycle, and the current openings to Europe and Asia are the best we will see for now. There will be no such openings on 10 Meters, and the 15 Meter openings will begin to deteriorate after CQWW weekend as winter darkness spreads over the north pole. Until we see higher flux levels, openings in the winter will usually be marginal. This fall DX season will be a short one: enjoy it!

20 Meter daypath conditions are improving, and Europeans are workable in the morning from here. This band is closing earlier in the evening, but remains open for the Pacific and South America until late evening. We still get good polar openings in both the morning and early evening due to the position of the grey line paths, but these continue to shift and polar windows will become more difficult with the approach of winter. Excellent openings to the Antarctic occur around sunset, with long path opportunities into southeast Asia and Indonesia. Morning long path to the Middle East should also be workable from Texas, while the East Coast (especially W4) will get a narrow morning window to India and the West Coast will hear East Africa and Europe. Southern hemisphere night paths are opening up.

Most nighttime DX activity is currently moving to 40, which is in excellent shape. The main path to Europe occurs before Texas sunset, and the East Coast gets the best of this opening during contests. Through the evening we follow the sunrise area across Russia and eventually across Europe. Openings to the Middle East occur amidst the Russian signals, which are numerous. The band continues to quiet down from the summer QRN levels, and the expanded area of darkness in the northern hemisphere increases opportunities to reach remote areas of the world on 40. On 80, we tune for DX from Africa and Europe.

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