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ARRL Propagation Bulletin ARLP005 (2020)

ARLP005 Propagation de K7RA

QST de W1AW  
Propagation Forecast Bulletin 5  ARLP005
From Tad Cook, K7RA
Seattle, WA  January 31, 2020
To all radio amateurs 

ARLP005 Propagation de K7RA

This week we finally saw the return of sunspots, over seven of the
last eight days, January 24-30. Average daily sunspot numbers rose
from 0 to 11.1, while average daily solar flux jumped from 71.2 to

Geomagnetic indicators remained very quiet, signaling continued
great conditions on 160 and 80 meters.

Predicted solar flux over the next month and a half is 74 on January
31 through February 2, 70 on February 3-6, 71 on February 7-13, 72
on February 14-20, 73 on February 21-22, 74 on February 23-29, 72 on
March 1-3, 71 on March 4-11, and 72 on March 12-15.

Predicted planetary A index is 8 on January 31, 5 on February 1-4,
10 on February 5-6, 5 on February 7-24, 10 on February 25-26, 5 on
February 27-29, 8 on March 1-3, and 5 on March 4-15.

On January 27, 2020 the total sunspot area was 100 millionth of the
visible solar disc. The total sunspot area hasn't been larger or
even near that size since May 18, 2019 when the area was 140

Geomagnetic activity forecast for the period January 31 to February
26, 2020 from F.K. Janda, OK1HH and the Czech Propagation Interest
group. OK1HH has been making these reports for 42 years, since
January, 1978.

"Geomagnetic field will be:
quiet on: February 8-9, 15-16, 20-23
quiet to unsettled on: February 3, 10-11, 14, 18-19, 24
quiet to active on: (January 31, February 1-2, 6-7, 13, 26)
unsettled to active on: (February 4-5, 12, 17, 25)
active to disturbed: no predicted disturbances.

"Solar wind will intensify on: January 31, February 1 (-3,) 6-7,
12-15, (16,) 18-20, (21-22,) 26.

"Parenthesis means lower probability of activity enhancement.  The
predictability of changes is lower again."

Thanks to all who sent in this, a link to the highest resolution
images of the Sun ever recorded:

David Moore sent this link:

"A 'great' space weather super-storm large enough to cause
significant disruption to our electronic and networked systems
occurred on average once in every 25 years according to a new study.

" ."

Rich Zwirko, K1HTV wrote:

"This Winter season has been very good one for morning DXing here in
Virginia on 160 Meters. In the past 2 weeks, I have worked 12
different stations in Japan on FT8 on the Topband. Running only 75
Watts, 8 of the 12 JA QSOs were made after my local sunrise, some as
late as 30 minutes past SR. Some JA stations were decoded more than
40 minutes after the Sun had risen. Many days with the K index at 0
or 1 is making for a very stable path through the magnetic north
polar region to the Orient.

"Activity on the higher bands have been made more interesting with a
number of maritime mobile stations now working the FT8 mode.
Stations traveling through many of the world's water grids and
signing /MM at the end of their calls include DD6AJ, HA3FOK, R0LER,

"Even with the SFI in the low 70s, the 15 Meter band has been open
daily for FT8 QSOs with stations in South America and a few western
Africa. The 17 Meter band has been open daily to Europe, Africa,
South Americas and to a few VK and ZL stations.

"I'm looking forward to the Summer months, hoping for a good 6 Meter
DX season via E-skip and the SSSP mode."

Solar orbiter launches next week:

On January 24, Jon Pollock, K0ZN in De Soto, Kansas wrote:

"Friday night, January 17th, there was some extraordinary
propagation on 80 M (CW) about 0530 UTC.  Europeans were very strong
here in the Midwest, well over S9 in some cases. I had just finished
working an Italian station and the next station that called him,
which had about an S6 signal was a ZL. I listened to the entire
exchange between the Italian station and the ZL. I have never heard
anything like that before on 80 M. Basically, 80 M was open with
good signals over the entire dark side of the planet. My antenna is
an 80 M dipole at 35 feet. This is my 5th sunspot cycle low and, in
fact, 80 and 160 are better at cycle lows. Clearly, the longer skip
zone when the band goes 'long' late at night, reduces the received
noise level on 80M."

On January 26 he wrote:

"I got into ham radio in 1959...been through several sunspot cycles,
as you can see. NO QUESTION 80 and 160 get better at the bottom of
the cycle. I am one of those twisted, sick people that actually LIKE
that!  Ha Ha! I like the low bands and I see it as a great
equalizer. I can't put up a big antenna on the upper bands, but many
of the Big Guns can't put up a big antenna on 80 and 160, so the
playing field gets leveled. I have (in terms of distance) worked
some really good DX on 80 and 160 this winter...with simple wire
antennas. You just gotta QSY with the sunspot cycle if you want to
have fun!"

N8II wrote on January 24 from West Virginia:

"In the CW OPS mini test at 1900Z Saturday, the skip zones were very
long on 40 and 20, but 15 was wide open to southern CA. 15 has been
pretty quiet; FR4QT (peaking S7) on Reunion Island was ragchewing
with a Caribbean station (unreadable) at 1500Z Wednesday January 22.
I did get an answer from a French station who was weak one day
around 1445Z on 15.

"Low band conditions have declined in the past 10 days, but at 0330Z
160 was in good shape to LY4A in Lithuania with a S9 signal and I
logged 4Z5IW in Israel through a NA pileup (he was S4-7)."

The latest space weather report from Dr. Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW, from
several days ago:

Recently I (K7RA) decided to try FT8 with the very crude and limited
wire antenna I mentioned in ARLP051 at the recent end of last year.
This is a wire of no particular length (perhaps 30-40 feet total)
that winds around through laurel bushes in my back yard, about 4
feet above the ground, fastened to the branches with tie-wraps and
fed with an antenna tuner.

I knew FT8 was a powerful weak signal mode, but I was astonished at
the results on 80, 30 and 20 meters. Running low power, I was being
heard all over the world. Checking I was surprised
to see a report from central Russia on 30 meters, and various Japan,
New Zealand and Brazilian stations, and of course coverage all over
North America. Even though I had very few 2-way QSOs (which are
minimal anyway in FT8) just seeing where my pipsqueak signal was
propagating was quite a revelation.

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 and the ARRL Technical Information
Service web page at, For
an explanation of numbers used in this bulletin, see

An archive of past propagation bulletins is at More good
information and tutorials on propagation are at

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

Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL
bulletins are at

Sunspot numbers for January 23 through 29, 2020 were 0, 12, 14, 18,
12, 11, and 11, with a mean of 11.1. 10.7 cm flux was 70.8, 71,
72.7, 74.7, 72.9, 74.2, and 74.3, with a mean of 72.9. Estimated
planetary A indices were 5, 3, 3, 4, 3, 5, and 9, with a mean of
4.6. Middle latitude A index was 3, 1, 3, 2, 2, 4, and 6, with a
mean of 3.


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