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Propagation Forecast Bulletin #02 de K7RA:

from W1AW Bulletin via the ARRL on January 11, 2013
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Propagation Forecast Bulletin #02 de K7RA:

Propagation Forecast Bulletin 2 ARLP002
>From Tad Cook, K7RA
Seattle, WA January 11, 2013
To all radio amateurs

ARLP002 Propagation de K7RA

After last week's somewhat downbeat look at sunspot cycles, current, past and future, we sure have some great activity to report this week.

The average daily sunspot number more than doubled in the past week, rising nearly 93 points to 163.3. Average daily solar flux was up more than 37 points to 147.7. On top of that, the geomagnetic conditions were very quiet, which is a wonderful combination, not often seen in more active solar cycles.

There is a bit of uncertainty regarding the mid-latitude A-index on January 5-6. Some sort of outage for 24 hours blocked the data (from Fredericksburg, Virginia) on 8 consecutive 3-hour readings from late January 5 (UTC) through early January 6. The mid-latitude K-index tracked closely with the planetary K-index from January 3-9, so if the data were not missing, the January 5 mid-latitude A-index would probably have been a little higher, and the January 6 mid-latitude A-index a little lower than reported. The daily A-index is based solely upon the eight K-index readings throughout the day.

Currently NOAA and USAF predict solar flux values of 175 on January 11-12, 170 on January 13-14, 165, 150 and 125 on January 15-17, 105 on January 18-19, 110 and 120 on January 20-21, 125 on January 22-24, 130 on January 25-28, 135 on January 29, 140 on January 30 through February 1, then 135, 140, 135 and 130 on February 2-5, and 125 on February 6-7.

A predicted planetary A index is 5 on January 11, 8 on January 12-13, 5 on January 14-19, 8 on January 20-21, 5 in January 22-25, 10 on January 26, 5 on January 27 through February 2, 8 on February 3-5, 5 on February 6-8, and 10 on February 9.

The forecast is from January 10, and the solar flux portion is identical to the same report on January 9. The A index portion is only slightly different on a couple of days, otherwise the same as Wednesday's forecast.

OK1HH has an updated geomagnetic activity forecast. He says to watch for quiet to unsettled conditions January 11-12, active to disturbed January 13, quiet to unsettled January 14, mostly quiet January 15, quiet to active January 16, quiet on January 17-19, mostly quiet January 20-21, quiet on January 22-25, mostly quiet January 26, quiet to active January 27, quiet January 28-29, mostly quiet January 30-31, and quiet again on February 1-2.

Howard Lester, N7SO of Schuylerville, New York recently saw his wire antennas go down in a big wind. The former inverted vee is now suspended two feet above ground at the feedpoint, and 12 feet above ground at each end. So it is now an actual upright V instead of an inverted vee. Howard was excited to see what he could work this week with the fast rising solar flux and sunspot numbers.

He wrote, "Mysteriously, the antenna system still loads with identical settings on my transmatch. So I decided to try transmitting, called a guy on SSB in Germany, and he came back to me with a nice signal report. Then a guy in Greece. And on 17 CW I broke through a little pileup to Iceland."

This was from January 9-10. On January 10 he wrote, "I made a couple of contacts on 15 SSB to Poland and to eastern Ukraine, both less than 1 hour after sunrise. They're all using giant antennas, so no wonder they hear me. It seems awfully early in the morning this time of year for 15, let alone 12, to be open, except that the flux is so high right now.

"I just worked OZ1ADL, Jan, in Galten, Denmark on 12 meter SSB. He gave me a 59 report, and was especially surprised after I described my antenna situation. But, HIS antenna is a 13-element log periodic at 100 feet."

With the fast-rising solar flux this week, it has been fun to examine the thrice daily readings from the observatory at Penticton, British Columbia.

Check and look at the first column on the left for date, second column for time and the fifth column for observed solar flux. Daily readings are at 1800, 2000 and 2200 UTC, but the 2000 UTC reading (local noon) is the official solar flux number for the day.

Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA of Indianapolis, Indiana has some observations on recent solar activity. Carl wrote, "The New Year welcomed us with a nice increase in solar activity. In the past several days I, along with many others, worked A45XR and A65BP (and others) in the late morning hours on 12m and 10m via long path to the southwest from here in the Midwest. I even worked VU2XO on 10m SSB via long path (to the south) at 1638z on Friday January 4 - he was extremely weak but workable.

"These QSOs are good examples of low probability openings, and they were aided by the increased aforementioned solar activity. VOACAP predicts these openings (even at low solar activity), along with many other low probability paths. You just have to be there when they happen.

"Both ends of the path are looking toward the equatorial ionosphere, with the highest MUFs in the world (even at low solar activity). Our end of the path is in daylight, which of course is good for these higher band QSOs. The other end is past sunset, but not far enough past sunset to have the MUF decrease significantly - thank goodness the ionosphere recombines much slower after sunset than it ionizes at sunrise. And more than likely this wasn't conventional multi-hop - I suspect chordal hops that kept the losses down."

Thank you, Carl.

Several readers had comments about past solar cycles. Lou De Chiaro, WB2IJT of Lindenwold, New Jersey wrote, "I was fairly active on HF during the late 1960s when Cycle 20 peaked. At the time, my rig was a Heath SB-300 receiver and SB-400 transmitter running around 100 watts CW output. My largest HF antenna consisted of a rhombic that measured around 40 feet in the short dimension and about 300 feet in the long dimension. The best propagation results happened on 10 meters during the 1969-1970 period, and I both observed 20 dB/S9 signals and received equally glowing reports from several VK and ZL stations on both CW and SSB. My QTH at the time was in northern NJ. Since then, I have unfortunately not seen signals of comparable strength from 'down under,' though one always wants to remain hopeful."

Ken Bourke, N6UN of San Diego, California wrote, "I was born in 1940 and fit the age group that you talk about and the expectations we had. I enjoyed the current article about this age group as it moved thru the 11 year sunspot cycles and it is very accurate and true. No cycle compares to the 1958 one.

"We old QCWA hams always hope and think we will have another cycle like that 1958 one, but it never has happened. In 1958 I was 18 years old, in Illinois (W9ZVG, Extra Class), with 1 KW and a quad at 60 feet. But I even got bored working so many DX countries. I did not know I was experiencing a once in a lifetime event. 15 meters was also hot. I made a tape recording of the crowded 10 meter band on old tape at 7.5 ips.

"But I always thought the band would come back like that 1958 event every 11 years, but it never has come back like 1958. I still keep hoping and do think some cycle in the future will be even stronger, with a higher daily 23 cm solar flux than our 110 or 120 today, like over 150 or 200 daily, solar flux which might occur with a big long term solar eruption and massive solar wind. I keep waiting for a lot of long term continuous solar activity."

Fortunately, solar flux this week is actually over 150, rising to 174 on January 10 and predicted at 175 on January 11-12.

Tom Gallagher, N6RA of San Francisco, California wrote, "I was one of the lucky ones to be on the air and hunting DX in the 50s. I'm now 70. I was licensed in 1955 as KN4DRO in Miami at the age of 12. I quickly got into DXing (having been an SWL DXer at the age of 10 and a BC band DXer at the age of 6 when my parents gave me my own little BC band radio). In 1958 I received DXCC #3698. I had about 210 countries when I went off to college in 1960 (I was actually the #9 DXer in the state of Florida with my puny station when I went off to college). I had a very modest station--50 watts on CW and AM (I had 140 countries on AM phone) with a 2 element quad at 30 feet. My experience during the various sunspot cycles was very much like you outlined. I had them all for a while, but missed South Sudan (haven't sent in the new PJ cards yet).

"6 meters has taken my interest in the last 13 years or so. There seem to be a lot of geezer HF DXers on 6! I had hopes of making DXCC on 6, but it's harder than I ever envisioned from the West Coast and the sunspots don't seem to be cooperating. I do have some juicy DX on 6 from 2001, such as Z22JE, ZD7, 3W, DU, VR2, etc."

Before closing, check out a couple of interesting articles about solar activity at and

If you would like to make a comment or have a tip for our readers, email the author at,

For more information concerning radio propagation, see the ARRL Technical Information Service web page at For an explanation of the numbers used in this bulletin, see An archive of past propagation bulletins is at Find more good information and tutorials on propagation at

Monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and twelve overseas locations are at

Sunspot numbers for January 3 through 9 were 116, 167, 181, 186, 196, 144, and 153, with a mean of 163.3. 10.7 cm flux was 128.8, 143.1, 145.1, 142.2, 149.7, 155.6, and 169.3, with a mean of 147.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, and 3, with a mean of 2.7. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 2, 2, 1, 6, 3, 3, and 3, with a mean of 2.9.

Source: W1AW Bulletin via the ARRL.

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