2017 FM E-Skip Year in Review

Record lows, a stunning lack of signals, and lots of frustration.  Those words sum up the 2017 Sporadic E-Skip season in Northern Virginia.

Sporadic E is a method of signal propagation that, when in effect, allows broadcast signals to be received up to 1500 miles away with clear local reception.  It can happen any time of the year, but it is most common during the summer months.

I’ve been writing annual reviews of E-Skip seasons since 2011 and although I’ve often wrote that the current year’s season was bad, I really didn’t think it could get worse.  2017 is, categorically, the worst FM Es season that I’ve experienced since I started DXing in 1999 (monitoring daily for Es since 2006).  There’s no nice way of saying it.

READ MY PREVIOUS YEARS’ E-SKIP SEASON REVIEWS DATING BACK TO 2011

Think of it this way: FM Es was observed in Northern Virginia for 33 minutes total during the entire 2017 season.  Yes, you read that right.  Compare that to 6.9 hours of skip just a year ago, and a whopping 21.9 hours of FM Es in 2012.  Skip just wasn’t happening at all this year, and interestingly enough Continue reading

2016 FM E-Skip Year in Review

es-2016bIs it even summer?

That was a question that I asked myself multiple times this past few months, and I’m still asking it as the 2016 Sporadic E-Skip season came to a close in Northern Virginia on July 31.

One can receive FM signals up to 1500 miles away, on average, with local, stereo strength during a Sporadic E, or E-Skip opening.  Although it can happen at any time of the year, it most commonly occurs mid-May to late July, a period of which I consider a ‘skip season.’  This year’s season just ended, and with it came continued disappointment seen locally almost every year since the 2009 season.

The 2016 year seems to be a repeat of the 2015 season, with the few substantial openings observed occurring within a few days of each other late in the season.  2016 continues the local trend where long swaths of otherwise eligible weeks/weekends had no trace of FM Es at all.  2016 was just like 2015 where the first half of the season (May-mid June) saw few openings. This contrasts with the 2014 season, where the last half of the season (June-late July) saw no or little Es, but the beginning of the season had a lot of activity.  This is also the first year since I started to monitor daily FM Es in 2006 where there was no FM Es observed at all in the Continue reading

2015 FM E-Skip Year in Review

review_logo_2015It’s that time of year again–another Sporadic E season has concluded, and it–like previous years–leaves us with more to be desired.  2015 was surely a dud.

Sporadic E-Skip is a phenomenon which allows broadcast signals from up to 1500 miles away, on average, to be received in one location during the warmer months.  And in normal years, we usually have Es openings throughout May to the end of July.

But it seemed like this season never really picked up.  The season had absolutely zero openings in July–an otherwise fertile FM Es month–and only one opening where the MUF reached 107.9 FM.  All but one of the 23 new FM logs this year were received within the last Continue reading

2014 FM E-Skip Year in Review

2014reviewAfter a summer of deadband radio dials and yawn-inducing static on every empty frequency, DXers may be wondering “where’s the skip?”

But that question will likely remain unanswered until mid-2015, as this year’s FM Es season ended without fanfare on July 31.

Sporadic E-Skip is a phenomenon which allows broadcast signals from up to 1500 miles away, on average, to be received in one location during the warmer months.  This review focuses on its effect on the FM band in Northern Virginia.

After an acceptable 2013 E-skip season, I had high hopes that this year would compare, in terms of performance, with the great seasons of 2006-2008.  Unfortunately, 2014 didn’t Continue reading

2013 E-skip season in review

Introduction

es2013revThe 2013 Sporadic E-Skip season ended on July 31 in Northern Virginia.  For the first time in 4 years, Es seemed to improve in most graded categories, albeit slightly.  2009 marked the first year since I monitored daily for Es in 2006 where FM Es took a nosedive, with each year getting progressively worse to the point where last year I predicted almost no FM Es at all for the 2013 season.  Thankfully, I was proven wrong and am actually delighted to experience a slightly below-average sporadic E season (based on Es seasons 2006-2009).

The 2013 season started right on time on May 2.  Although May is typically a quiet month locally with one or two full-fledged, sustained openings later in the month, I received a healthy dose of Es 10 times throughout the month, the majority being weak and short openings, but Es nonetheless.  Even with most openings being weak, short and overall only bringing in relogs, the fact remains May 2013 has seen more Continue reading

2012 E-Skip season in review

Introduction

es2012logoThe 2012 Sporadic E-Skip season officially ended on July 31 in Northern Virginia, and with it came a disappointment.

This year’s season continued a downward spiral in all aspects of DXing which has been locally experienced since 2009. Every year since then, the amount of new logs, openings, duration and general quality of Es openings have gotten worse.

There was no Es during 35 days of the season—between June 16 and July 24. The surprising lull in a typically-busy part of the season was equally shocking since it ended with an almost all-day marathon opening on July 24 which brought in 20 new logs with regional reports of a Continue reading

2011 E-Skip season in review

Introduction

es2011logoThe 2011 Sporadic E-Skip season has unofficially ended in Northern Virginia on Sunday, July 31.

Straight on the heels of the abrupt ending of the 2010 Es season, which ended locally on July 3, about a month sooner than in previous years, I was expecting a huge comeback for 2011.

I was disappointed.

Instead, the lack of Es seen at the end of 2010 seemed plague the entire 2011 season, with the majority of openings only getting up to the mid FM band, or to the top but with weak, and sparse, signals. Continue reading