I cannot recall the last time I had Sporadic E-Skip for two days in a row–on the weekend when I can actually DX (vs. when I am at work). Skip on July 21 was nothing like the previous day, but I did hear a few faint signals appear briefly on 88.1, 89.1, 89.5, 89.9, and 91.7. The skip started at 4:10 PM and ended at 4:38 PM, although I heard maybe 2 minutes total of skip signals during that period. All signals were brief, disappearing seconds after first heard.
I did manage to get one positive ID via RDS from previously-logged 89.1 WPAS Pascagoula, MS, at 847 miles, 60 KW. The screenshot below has been added to my DX Logs page.
The first respectable Sporadic E opening of the 2019 season was heard on July 20 in Northern Virginia.
With about an hour total of skip heard between 12:25 PM and 5:12 PM, the opening started with signals from South Florida with a MUF of 94.1. The skip disappeared at 3:30 PM. A half hour later, it returned with signals from the upper Midwest and Louisiana with a higher MUF of 106.1. Most of the signals were weak and had deep fades.
The highlight of the opening was the logging of my third translator in 20 years via FM Es, 94.1 W231CN from Florida. W231CN is the first translator via Es that I have received which decoded RDS. Local 93.9 WKYS seemed to be on low power during the opening, as their HD Radio signal was off-air and they weren’t running RDS. This was likely how I was able to log W231CN, as 94.1 is usually covered up by WKYS’ digital IBOC sideband.
A watched pot never boils. The same can be said with DXing, because a radio you can see will not receive Sporadic E.
Murphy’s Law is generally understood to be “whatever may happen, will happen.” Murphy’s Law can happen at any given time, such as a printer breaking just before a term paper is due, or someone getting sick right before leaving for vacation. I’ve written about Murphy’s Law and its effect on the DXing hobby. It seems to be most prevalent during the Sporadic E season, which typically spans from May to August, with peaks in June and July. Whenever I am near a radio, there is rarely skip. The moment I am away from a radio and cannot DX, FM Es soars to the top of the band, without fail. This is especially true so far with the 2019 FM Es season, where I have only received a shocking 45 seconds of skip since May. Compare that to 2014 when I received a cumulative 1471 minutes, or 24.35 hours of FM Es during the entire season.
On July 18, reports of FM Es to the top of the band in the eastern United States, including my area, were plentiful during the 6:00 PM hour, per reports on the TV/FM Skip Log. I was leaving work at that time and couldn’t be near a radio until about an hour later. Halfway into my commute home, the nearby DXers who were able to benefit from the FM Es opening reported on the propagation logger that the skip was gone. As expected, my radio had deadband conditions upon me turning it on at about 7:10 PM. I missed the FM Es opening.
There was some hope, because I left my computer on at home and I knew it was recording off two of my radios, one set to 92.1 and the other on 93.5–two open frequencies in my region. Knowing my unattended recordings were always two “chances” of getting in on a missed FM Es opening was always the ‘silver lining,’ so to speak, of when skip would happen while I was away.
I came home at about 7:55 PM to find my computer stuck at the login screen. I logged in and didn’t see my recording program running. It apparently rebooted with Windows Updates overnight, and I didn’t notice it before I left for work in the morning. In other words, I missed the live opening, and my computer missed it too, meaning I have nothing to show for what was likely a spectacular opening had I been able to DX it. Murphy strikes again!
The 2019 Sporadic E season has been a huge bust so far in Northern Virginia. Before today, I only had one opening, 45 seconds of unidentified signals almost a month ago on June 8. On July 7 for about three minutes cumulative during the first half of the 8PM hour, I received an Es signal from 92.1 CJOZ-FM Bonavista, NL, at 1382 miles. I first received CJOZ-FM on 6/26/09. CJOZ-FM’s signal was very weak and no other stations came in during the opening. I did receive RDS for the first time from CJOZ-FM:
The interesting thing about this opening was that CJOZ was only received with unamplified rabbit ears in my office downstairs (3rd floor of my building), while my amplified Yagi antenna upstairs (4th and top floor) didn’t pick up CJOZ at all. I guess this is because the windows in my office face north toward Canada, and my Yagi antenna upstairs doesn’t have a clear line of sight in that direction.
Also of note, this is the second FM Es opening in 2019 that happened after 8:00 PM local time. In the past few years, FM Es has largely followed the “Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM” business hours model, meaning I always missed it because it only happened when I was away from my radios and at work. I’ve been able to DX both (albeit very minor) FM Es openings so far this year from home on the weekend.
During the evening hours of June 8, Sporadic E-enhanced signals were heard at my Northern Virginia home — the first Sporadic E reception observed by me in 2019. About 45 seconds total of FM Es came into my Airspy R2 radio on June 8 between 8:34 PM and 8:52 PM. It is unclear what stations were coming in and from where, since the signals were so brief. Here’s a rundown of what I heard:
88.9 – fade-up of Christian contemporary music a few times over the span of a few minutes on top of weak semi-local 88.9 WEAA Baltimore, MD (59 miles)
93.5 – strong classic rock fade-up for a few seconds over weak regional tropo from 93.5 WZBH Georgetown, DE (106 miles)
95.1 – a second of country music heard over a listenable regional tropo signal from 95.1 WAYV Atlantic City, NJ (158 miles) (strangely, normally-heard semi-local 95.1 WRBS Baltimore, MD was missing)
All in all, nothing to write home about, but it is good to see that Sporadic E is still alive and well. This is also the first FM Es opening in two years received at my home that occurred into the 8PM hour.
As soon as I wrote about the lack of FM Es in the later months of the summer, a brief Sporadic E opening hit the dials outside of the usual “9-5 M-F” schedule that FM Es has largely followed this year. At 7:22 PM, an unidentified NPR station came in on 89.1 FM, and by 7:35 PM, 92.3 KKGQ and 93.5 KDGS, both relogs, briefly came in with an unidentified AC station on 98.1. The opening, which had signals for about 2 minutes cumulatively, quickly dissipated without any fanfare, with a MUF of 98.1.
92.3 KKGQ Newton, KS, e-skip, 1089 miles
93.5 KDGS Andover, KS, e-skip, 1088 miles
It started out with a bang but ended without fanfare. The 2018 Sporadic E-Skip Season is no more, but even though this season has failed to live up to what I thought it would be, I still feel like it was a step in the right direction.
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.
When I started to monitor daily for FM Es in 2006, living in the summer months usually meant having to plan everything around an always-present Sporadic E opening. I’ve turned down social invitations and put off errands countless times because a mammoth FM Es opening was brewing on the dial. Beginning in 2009, Sporadic E came in less and less, getting progressively got worse each year until it hit a lowpoint in 2017, where I only received 33 minutes total of Sporadic E the entire season — compared to 1471 minutes in 2014.
On the surface, 2018 seemed to be the first skip season in years where things started to turn around. This year, I received 347 total minutes of skip with 5 new FM logs from 8 openings. During this season, I logged my 1900th FM station, and 4 of my 5 new FM logs were received from one unattended opening on 6/6/18.
I was on vacation on June 16-24, 2018. During that time I had two FM Es openings: one on 6/20/18 while I was outside of New York, NY, which lasted 100 minutes and brought in 26 stations from the Midwest and Upper Midwest. This opening was very strong, with many distant signals toppling the local NYC FM stations in a manner that I haven’t seen since 2016. Another respectable opening into the same general area was also observed on 6/26/18 while I was in Providence, RI, with a few RDS decodes but not as strong as the NYC opening. Within the same time period and weeks thereafter, reports of top-of-the-band FM Es from other DXers flooded into
Another bland Sporadic E opening was picked up on my unattended recordings on June 20. I have no idea if this was a good opening or not, since I was at work when it happened. I had my two radios recording 92.1 and 101.7 FM. At 12:34 PM, an unidentified religious station came in on 92.1 for 1 minute, and at 12:40 PM, an unidentified country station was heard on 101.7. The Es signals disappeared at 12:40 PM.
A very brief sporadic E opening was heard in my car on July 16 just outside of my Woodbridge, VA home. Signals below 92.1 FM became unstable at about 7:28 PM, but nothing solid was heard, until a 10-second fade-in from relog 89.1 WPAS Pascagoula, MS @ 847 miles, complete with RDS, came in and disappeared. After WPAS left, an unID CCM signal was heard on 89.5 FM for another 10 seconds before the opening ended.
A fairly weak Sporadic E opening into the upper Midwest brought in FM signals from Minnesota and South Dakota to Northern Virginia on July 10. Skip started at 5:25 PM and was heard for about 5 minutes total between that time and 5:51 PM. The signals were all short-lived, with a MUF of 98.9. This contrasts with other DXers’ online reports of top-of-the-band skip with strong signals and HD Radio decodes. Either way, I am glad to have received one new log from this opening, 92.1 KORN, which was identified by its RDS decode. KORN is the first Sporadic E signal that I have received RDS from since I started to use the Airspy R2 SDR radio. My DX Log and RDS/HD Radio Screenshots pages have been updated with the new content below.
92.1 KORN Parkston, SD, e-skip, 1128 miles
Other stations received:
unID 91.7 NPR
92.1 KLQP Madison, MN, 1065 miles
unID 93.5 classic hits
unID 97.3 CHR
unID 98.9 country