Conditions were excellent in the CQWW CW test, but very different than in the SSB portion a month earlier. The 15 Meter conditions we enjoyed in October were anomalous. The band was at its seasonal peak, and fluxes were often in the 80's. By late November, darkness covers most of the Arctic. The path to Europe opened on the east coast, but the openings were very short. Some easterners ran high rates for respectable totals on this band, but by 1600Z attention was shifting to Africa and the Caribbean because the band closed in Europe. The window was marginal for most of the rest of us, and never really opened on the west coast. Some of the east coast big guns failed to work a JA mult. On 10 Meters, it is likely that nobody stateside worked any Europe. Conditions on 15 will continue to deteriorate into winter, and activity will dry up and move to lower frequencies. It will remain a good band to watch for African activity.
The best daypath band is now 20, which was loaded with activity during the contest. Conditions are similar to what we would expect on 15 with higher flux levels. The band closes in Europe a couple hours after dark, which is around 1800Z. This is about the same time the path closes on 15 at the top of the cycle. The path to Asia was excellent following the JA sunrise, with access to most of Asia occurring around our sunset.
Conditions on 40 were outstanding. Many of the well equipped stations reported daypath propagation to Europe, even from the western USA. The east coast had its usual pipeline, with high QSO rates well before sunset. There is a period in the evening where MUF's dip below 7 Mhz and activity to EU thins out. The polar and high latitude paths (e.g. Russia) are workable, because the sun has already risen. The opening follows the dawn as it sweeps across Europe, and peaks well after midnight for us.
Stations with effective capabilities on all low bands did very well in the contest. Serious 160 Meter operators report exceptional conditions and very low noise. 80 proved to be a good band for nighttime rate from the east coast, and a good source of multipliers for the rest of us. The seasonal peak for lowband propagation has not yet occurred, however. Conditions will continue to improve during December and be at their best going into January. We are nearing the very bottom of the solar cycle, and the next two lowband seasons will bring out the best in 80 & 160 DXing.