DX activity on the high bands has improved. The path to Europe was open on 15 Meters during the CQWW fone, so the band is more closely watched now. Openings to Europe did not cover the whole continent from here. Western and northern Europe were workable, but only the well equipped stations in Eastern Europe were copyable and there were no Russians at all. The East Coast had better coverage in this direction, but we have also had openings to Asia. Polar paths were not open, and nobody expected them to be. Much of the exotic DX was across East/West paths, and many good African multipliers were worked during the contest.
The CW half of this contest is approaching, but the bands continue to change. The peak of the season for high latitude work is in October, and at the bottom of the sunspot cycle any path to Europe is considered "high latitude." The region of darkness over the pole continues to grow, and propagation through this area requires higher flux levels. November will bring steady deterioration of the path to Europe, and we will find conditions at the end of the month less than optimum. The main day path to Europe will be on 20.
The morning opening on 20 is good for a few hours, and includes some long path propagation toward the Middle East. For the remainder of the day, conditions are marginal and only the louder Europeans can be heard from W5. Stations in the eastern part of the US will be able to maintain steady rates to Europe in the contest, while the rest of us either listen to the noise or pounce up and down 10 and 15 tuning for mults. Late afternoon opens the band to Asia, but 20 closes in the early evening with the Pacific and VK/ZL dropping out last.
The low bands are in great shape. Noise levels on 40 are usually very low, and we have great evening paths to Europe. As winter approaches, MUF's along this path will drop below 7 MHz for part of the night and the focus will shift more toward sunrise/sunset band peaks.
The 80 Meter season is in gear, with plenty of stateside activity in the evening chasing not very much DX. The louder Europeans we work in the early evening are not coming through during their sunrise peak, which occurs after our midnight. Also, not everyone is awake over there - except during contests when activity comes out of the woodwork. For now, it is good to watch the sunrise times for the part of the world you want to work - especially when tuning for particular African stations.