Our monthly solar disturbance arrived pretty much on schedule (during the CQWW CW). Fortunately, its effects weren't as severe as in past months; raising hopes that this recurring nuisance is dissipating. Due to other commitments, I was not able to devote the entire weekend to the contest this year. This means that those of you who did the all-band thing gained a better feel for conditions than I currently have. My non-serious effort was on 80 Meters, and it was my first CQWW on packet. Like most packeteers, I contributed to the QRM but won't be sending in my logs. I also learned that it is a mistake to spot rare DX (like SU2MT) before logging it, especially when most of the connected packet nodes are much further east. He sure was loud on 80!
The activity on this band was heavy from the start, since the high bands were mostly closed. There were lots of copyable signals from Europe - the most I have ever heard on 80. Still, I wasn't punching through the pileups like usual on this band. My conclusion is that it was a "horizontal night." Contesters have concluded that low band conditions on some nights are good for horizontally polarized antennas (the majority) and others are good for vertical signals. I use a vertically polarized delta loop. There isn't a lot of documentation on this phenomenon, or scientific study. Are horizontal nights more common than vertical nights, or are they split 50/50? What is the difference in Db, and does it vary from night to night? Does any of this apply to stateside signals? Feedback is appreciated.
The most productive bands this year were 40 and 20, since 15 meter openings to Europe were brief. Even the east coast multi's failed to make 1000 Q's on 15. Openings to eastern Europe and Russia were especially limited, and this is where a high percentage of contacts are usually made. Daypath conditions on 20 were better, so many spent the morning there. For the next several months, 20 Meters will be reliable for most daypath work. 15 also opens, but the windows are very narrow across northern latitudes. 17 Meters is an excellent choice.
In the southern hemisphere it has been late spring, and peak season for nightpath work on 20 Meters. The bands don't close early like they do up here. This also means that long path is at its best, though nothing like at the peak of the solar cycle. Southern Asia is workable on Antarctic paths at dawn and dusk, especially when fluxes are up in the 80's. On 40, most long path activity is from Europe to our west coast. European LP propagation peaks too late for most of the US.