FM E-skip 2012: Only open during normal business hours?

It happens several times every year.

I’m about to head out of the house for errands I can’t put off.  Or, I have to attend something I can’t cancel or skip, like work.

I turn on the radio as I’m on my way out the door, and without fail—FM Es to at least 100 MHz.

I could also be at work, away from a radio while reading the TV/FM Skip Log, seeing reports from my area of Es up to 107.9 FM.

Of course, by the time I finish my prior engagement and run to my radio, the opening is long gone.

Murphy’s Law hits hard in the DXing hobby.  It always has.

But something even more peculiar than the common “away from radio = 108 MHz Es” dilemma is how it seems Es this year prefers to take the weekends off.

Of course, the only time I am available to DX all day is on the weekend.

I work normal business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.  My commute puts me home at about 6:45 p.m., so in theory I should be fine with DXing every single day of the Es season.

Nope.

Five of the seven openings this year as of June 16 were completely out of FM before 5 p.m.  This seems alarming, because I can recall many openings well into FM at 8 p.m. and even 10:30 p.m. in previous years.

The whole ‘missing a HUGE opening’ problem in years past was as sporadic as Es is itself—I might miss one or two per season which occurred when I was at work or attending college classes.

But what is even more concerning is it seems like FM Es this year will only hit FM while I’m at my desk at work and away from radios—following the ‘M-F, 9-5’ mold.

So far, five openings this year happened during the weekday, with two opening on the weekend.  Almost all were before 5 p.m.

This means that six weekend days where I was home at my radio total yielded no Es openings—even when those days are, theoretically, just as ‘available’ for skip than weekdays.

I even took two weekdays off from work since the season started and E-skip didn’t materialize.

Because of this, out of seven total 2012 openings, I missed two (one of them substantial) completely, and missed huge chunks of three other openings which started before 5 p.m. but carried over into the evening hours.  Only two openings started after 6 p.m.

It is as if an ‘Es go-ahead’ signal is sent to the much-revered “DX Gods” upon me walking into my employer’s building and clocking in.

Hopefully this is just an early-season anomaly.  I just know in 13 years of DXing—almost half of them actively monitoring Es daily—I’ve never seen such a time preference for when Es pops up.

I don’t have complete records, but I do always remember Es coming up about equally in the day and night—often more after 5 p.m. than before.  The majority of the colossal and once-in-a-lifetime opening of July 6, 2004, with a MUF of 198 MHz, or TV 10, spanned between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., if that gives you an idea.

Maybe this is just a minute fragment of a much-larger Es problem which I’ve been seeing for the past two years.  It seems like every year the Es gets worse and worse since 2009.

Maybe it is some lull having to do with sunspots or something else, but at this rate, Es is going to be extinct by 2015.  It already is for many West Coast DXers.

Advertisements