QST de W1AW
Propagation Forecast Bulletin 28 ARLP028
From Tad Cook, K7RA
Seattle, WA July 11, 2003
To all radio amateurs
SB PROP ARL ARLP028
ARLP028 Propagation de K7RA
This has been quite an interesting week for propagation and a fruitful one for DXers, on both HF and VHF. Last week's Propagation Bulletin ARLP027 mentioned that on July 9-10 we could experience some relatively stable and quiet geomagnetic conditions. This could be a welcome relief from the months of high A and K indices, solar flares, solar wind and geomagnetic storms.
The actual conditions for July 8-10 were wonderful, with conditions much quieter than predicted. The planetary K indices for July 8-9 were all ones and twos, and the planetary A index for July 8-10 was 5, 6 and 8. The middle latitude indices were even better, with a Fredericksburg K index of 0 for five of the three-hour periods on July 8-9. The middle latitude A index for July 6-10 as reported at http://www.sec.noaa.gov/ftpdir/indices/DGD.txt was 10, 9, 3, 3 and 6. Geomagnetic indices haven't been so quiet since February 24-25 of this year, when this bulletin reported A indices of 6 and 5, and an average A index for the week of 11.1, nearly three points lower than this week's average of 13.7.
On Wednesday evening local time in Seattle I was hearing many strong signals on 17 and 20 meters, and worked European stations on 17 meter CW from my car parked in front of my house. But the big surprise this week was 6-meters, where John Kiesel, KE7V worked Europe from land owned by K7HV on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. John used a five element Yagi. There were many other great 6-meter reports this week, which was surprising, because of late the notable 6-meter openings seemed to occur during periods of high geomagnetic activity.
Bob Sluder, N0IS wrote on Monday July 7 with a reference to the 50 MHz Propagation Logger at http://www.dxworld.com/50prop.html. He noted the European stations working North America, and wondered about the K index and the fact that it was nighttime in Europe when this was going on. On that day sunspot 375 was still growing, but starting to rotate toward the edge of the visible solar disk, where it disappeared after July 9. The geomagnetic indices were also really starting to quiet down on Monday.
Gene Zimmerman, W3ZZ sent some comments about West Coast stations working Europe on 6-meters, and said VE7SL had 44 European contacts on Tuesday from 1715-1908z. He also noted double hop E layer skip on 6 and 2-meters from the East to West coast, and passed along a report from Dave Bernhardt, N7DB from grid CN85 in Boring, Oregon, which is partially reproduced here in the following seven paragraphs:
"NN7J reports the following: G0JHC 1632z; I4EAT 1653z; ON4OAI 1701z; I0JX 1716z; and DL7QY 1736z. PA7MM & PA0HIP were also worked. Dan was heard by MW1MFL at 1619z and by PA5DD at 1815z. Weak EU signals were heard by Dan during much of the 1800z hour before finally disappearing."
"K7RWT reports the following: I0JX 519/559 1719z; PA0HIP 419/519 1725z; PA0VST 539/559 about 1730z and partial with PA7MH(?) at 1756z. Dave reports hearing DL6AMI, IK2GS? plus a number of ON stations."
"WX7R gives the following report: I0JX 1719z; ON4AOI 1732z; ON4IQ 1738z; PA5TA 1739z; IK4DCT 1748z; IK2GJO(?) 1750z; PA0HIP 1753z; and PA9KT 1755z. Other stations heard by John include PA2VSA, IZ2AAJ and other weak PA's and I's. One station that both John and I tried to work was IW5BML/P on 50.139. Could not get that station's attention that he was getting out to the West Coast! John mentioned that W1QT (CN84) south of Salem also worked 3 EU countries with a '706 and 3el!"
"I will certainly be interested in VE7SL's report as Steve had EU 'til around 2000z with quite a few new countries worked. Looks like Steve got a few countries in the Balkans to boot."
"This station worked I0JX 559 at 1717z and PA0HIP 559 at 1750z. Station here is a 'tired' TR-6 with around 50W output to a CC 5el up 25'. Very modest 6M station at the moment, but really amazed at working Rome with such gear. Working I0JX and other European stations gave operators on this end the "shakes" from the extra excitement. Also heard here was PA5TA. W7KNT and K7TNT were heard on backscatter working into EU during the morning."
"Remember, this is only the SECOND E type opening that almost all operators have experience in our LIFETIMES' out here."
"Looks like this was a fairly widespread opening from the reports known at this time. EU stations worked down to at least CN80 and up to CN88/9 (VE7SL.) Looks like the signals were coming in at a high angle as this station did well with a low antenna compared to other stations in this area with higher antennas."
Regarding high geomagnetic activity after the peak of a solar cycle, Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA wrote to say that the geomagnetically most active part of a solar cycle is in its initial decline, and we're probably in the worst (best for VHF) time right now. The quietest time is a couple years past the solar minimum. He also notes a seasonal effect, with summer and winter generally quieter than the equinoxes.
After all this, it seems there is little time to report on recent 60-meter activity. Martin McCormick, WB5AGZ of Stillwater, Oklahoma reported good 60-meter reception, especially after local midnight. He says it is like 40-meters without the broadcast QRM.
Glenn Thomas, WB6W reported S7-S8 noise levels during the opening hours of 60-meters while mobile in Fremont, California. Before midnight he heard signals to the east, but none were strong. After midnight it was bedlam, but he worked a number of other California stations. He reported strong signals from WB6NOA in San Diego. Most notable was his contact with Bonnie Crystal, KQ6XA, who Glenn said was bicycle mobile in Oregon. Bonnie had a post this week on http://www.qrz.com reporting that 5403.5 kHz is common to both the US and UK. She also wrote that HFpack, a group devoted to portable HF operation has been using 5371.5 kHz as a calling frequency for backpack portable and pedestrian mobile operators.
This weekend is the IARU HF World Championship. The predicted planetary A index for Friday through Monday, July 11-14 is 25, 20, 15 and 15. Solar flux is expected to slowly drift down to a minimum of 115, where it is expected to stay from around July 17-22.
Sunspot numbers for July 3 through 9 were 147, 130, 88, 114, 140, 149, and 125, with a mean of 127.6. 10.7 cm flux was 132.2, 140, 141.9, 129.6, 133.3, 131.3, and 126, with a mean of 133.5. Estimated planetary A indices were 17, 25, 17, 12, 14, 5, and 6, with a mean of 13.7.