October turned out very well. We had a period where the flux numbers were in the 80's, and this opened 15 Meters for some good DXing in the peak of the fall season. Activity was light for most of the month, because the band openings were not well known. Many operators had written this band off because of poor conditions during the summer. These things are seasonal, and October brings out the best that can be expected from the high bands at the bottom of the cycle. The CQWW SSB Contest turned out great numbers of DXers to the 15 Meter band, and now we all know it is really open on many paths. Contacts to Europe from W5 favored western and southern EU, with minimal access to Russia.
At sunspot peaks, October is the best month for polar propagation on 10 Meters, because the expanding polar night closes the path later in the fall and through the winter. With our low sunspot numbers and low MUFs, this expanding area of darkness will effect most high latitude paths on 15 beginning in November. The windows to Europe and Asia will deteriorate - becoming shorter and covering less area. Though we will still have some nice grey line openings, the band will close abruptly around sunset. There will be some access to Europe in the CQWW CW contest, but the length of the openings will depend on how close you are to the Atlantic coastline. The East Coast can expect a nice window with some high rates, but 15 will likely be dead in Europe before it opens in W6.
Polar paths on 20 continue to shift, and the path to Zone 26 now is better in the evening than in the morning. During the recent operation(s) from Burma, we enjoyed openings twice a day and everybody in the states got a good window to that part of the world. Solar fluxes were too low for Antarctic long path to XZ (a favorite path for W5's, since we get to stomp the East Coast). Signals were often coming through on a skew path across northern Europe. This is similar to the crooked path we get at the peak of the cycle from Indonesia on all bands. I think this has something to do with proximity to the Equator.
With the expanding polar night, northern latitude paths continue to improve on 40. Conditions are best to Europe around our sunset and their sunrise. Later in the evening, the path will often close because the MUF drops below 7 MHz at high latitudes along the path. This is most noticeable during DX contests. On normal days, we don't expect to work EU at 4:am (their time) for other reasons. During the evening, we can follow the sunrise path across Russia or work a more southerly path to Africa. We can also work the other low bands, as more activity is moving to 80 & 160 now.