While in Providence, RI on June 23, I experienced a brief FM E-Skip opening into the Midwest and Upper Midwest. This was surprising to me, given how saturated the RF is in the Providence area, with a full dial of local Providence stations, and almost every non-local frequency filled with semi-local signals within 50 miles from Boston. The Sporadic E opening lasted about 20 minutes and had a MUF of 106.1 FM. There were several signals that I couldn’t identify, however.
Updated 6/25/18: I added the screenshots from the signals received via Sporadic E, as well as other local New York-area stations, to myNew York City travel RDS/HD Radio screenshotspage. Also, upon further review, I realized that my logging listed below from 99.3 WPBX was actually tropo from 99.3 WMNP Block Island, RI, 108 miles from where I was DXing in Greenwich, CT. The New York Excel log has been updated with this change.
While traveling in the New York City area on June 20, I found that the FM band was wide open to the Midwest. For about two solid hours (save for a 20 minute dropout), multiple frequencies were full of rapidly fading signals making it impossible to ID. Some of the local New York stations at 26 miles away were gone with distant signals coming in over them–the only one I could identify was 94.7 KSHE over NYC’s 94.7 WNSH. The MUF of the opening was 106.5 MHz, but I saw reports online of a 162 MHz MUF nearby. Although I was about 230 miles away from my home when I logged these signals, this was the first FM Es opening in ages that actually occurred beyond the 9-5 workday hours, when I can’t DX due to my work schedule. My New York, NY travel DX log has been updated with the stations listed below. Again, these stations were received just north of New York City, not at my home in Virginia.
June 15 seemed to be another great Sporadic E-skip day on the U.S. east coast. I read reports for a few hours of people in nearby states getting skip to 107.9 FM. Yet, when I got home from work at about 7:30 PM, my two radios, which were set to record on 96.7 and 98.1 FM, didn’t pick up any FM Es. I did hear about 30 seconds of an unidentified country station on 92.3 FM coming in on my car radio while driving home at about 7PM, briefly, over semi-local 92.3 WERQ Baltimore, MD, but nothing else. 2018 seems to be a good year so far in terms of skip, but the problem is that the skip only happens during normal business hours during the week, when I cannot be at a radio. This is unlike previous years, where FM Sporadic E would happen well into the 9PM hour.
For the first time since 2016, a respectable Sporadic E-Skip opening was received in Virginia. During the opening, I logged my 1900th FM station ever received. The day also marked the second time in 19 years that I received a radio station from Mexico.
I had to work all day and wasn’t able to DX my radios live, but I fared pretty well with two radios set to record from 89.1 and 93.5 FM. The skip started in my car as I was headed to work at 8:52 AM with an unID 88.1 signal with undecoded RDS. My home radios didn’t get any FM Es until 10:54 AM, when signals from south Florida boomed in for over three hours. An outlier fade-in from Nebraska was also heard at one point. The FM Es abruptly ended at 3:14 PM, and then returned at 6:05 PM for about 2 minutes into the Cancun area. A few brief returns of FM Es during the 6PM and 7PM hours, totaling about 15 more minutes, happened before the marathon opening finally ended. Overall, 208 minutes of FM Es was observed on June 6, which is 6.3 times as many minutes as heard during the entire 2017 FM Es season, and half of what was heard in the entire 2016 FM Es season.
The 2018 FM E-Skip season started in earnest in Northern Virginia on June 5. Although I was not at my radios at the time and was unable to DX, unattended recordings on 97.7 FM picked up relog 97.7 WTLQ Punta Rassa, FL, at 883 miles, for roughly 12 minutes combined between 1:13 PM and 3:15 PM. Although WTLQ’s signal was largely weak and suffered from long drop outs, it was local-grade at various moments. My other radio, set to 95.9 FM, did not observe any skip, instead getting a weak signal from semi-local 95.9 WGRQ Fairview Beach, VA, at 31 miles.
Receiving 97.7 WTLQ also gives me hope that my antenna setup is good enough to receive skip at all. Prior to last year, I enjoyed excellent reception with a rooftop antenna. When I moved to a two-story condo in 2017, I had to make do with a Yagi antenna indoors. While this setup is perfect for tropo (with reception better than what I received with my roof antenna at my old home), it remains to be seen if the same thing will happen with Sporadic E, due to the fact that there were minimal openings in 2017.
After 14 days of no Sporadic E observed during the usually fertile month of July, E-skip finally returned on July 21, albeit briefly. Skip was first heard via unattended recordings set to 92.1 FM at 6:57 PM for about 5 seconds. While in my car at 7:15 PM, I found skip up to 98.1 FM, with relogs 98.1 KFGE and 97.7 KBBX in with strong signals and RDS. 92.9 KTGL and 97.7 KPOW came in weak soon after. As with all openings this year, the July 21 opening’s signals were brief. Although the skip ended at 7:29 PM, Sporadic E was only in FM for about 3 minutes total due to deep fades and a yo-yo MUF. Even with this shortcoming, today’s opening allowed me to get RDS from KBBX for the first time. I added the screenshots below to my RDS/HD Radio Screenshots page.
Relogs and unIDs:
92.1 unID country
92.9 KTGL Beatrice, NE, 1044 miles, “92-9 The Eagle” – classic rock
97.7 KPOW La Monte, MO, 860 miles, local ads for Sedalia, MO
Rinse and repeat. In what is becoming a fashionable trend this year, Sporadic E stopped by only for minutes on July 7 before disappearing. This largely contrasts with reports online of sustained top-of-the-band FM Es in neighboring states. In my car near my home at 7:31 PM, I received RDS from relog 89.1 WPAS for about 15 seconds before the signal disappeared. The skip then reappeared about 30 minutes later, with an unidentified religious signal on 89.1, and an unknown oldies station on 92.1. This second ‘dip’ into FM lasted for about two minutes before going away. These signals, albeit short-lived, were also both fairly strong–the 92.1 overpowerd weak tropo from nearby Richmond, VA’s 92.1 WCDX.
The only good thing about the opening is that the later signals from 89.1 and 92.1 were heard indoors–the first skip opening with my new indoor Yagi antenna array. While using rabbit ears indoors most of this skip season, hearing skip-reflected signals indoors was almost impossible. It was refreshing to hear the characteristic “fade in/fade out/fade in” of skip on two separate frequencies using a more robust antenna, and it shows me that my radios actually work. Maybe this means I’ll get *one* sustained, workable opening before the skip season ends at the end of this month.
The weak, “here one second, gone the next” Sporadic E openings of 2017 continued on June 30. At 8:30 PM in my car located in Springfield, VA near my home, I heard an NWS weather alert on 89.1 FM with mentions of Fort Sill and Warren, OK, likely relog KYCU Clinton, OK @ 1215 miles. Shortly later, I heard a Bott Radio Network station on 95.1 FM, likely relog KQCV Shawnee, OK @ 1079 miles. Neither station had a definitive ID. The MUF of the opening was 95.1 FM and the opening lasted about 2 minutes long.
The weak, peekaboo “here one second, gone the next” Sporadic E that I’ve seen so far in the 2017 season continued on June 13. At about 4:00 PM, I found signals from Arkansas and Kansas coming into Northern Virginia. Although I had to do some non radio-related things during the opening, I found incoming signals from Minnesota and Nebraska before the opening died at about 5:17 PM, roughly 10 minutes of cumulative skip with a MUF of 105.3 FM. Interestingly, much like the May 28, 2017 opening, I managed to log 4 new stations–something that is usually very difficult to achieve with weak and short openings, which usually only yield relogs. My Audio page has been updated with the new clips below.
@ = new
89.3 unID talk over local WPFW Washington, DC
@ 90.3 KANQ Chanute, KS, 999 miles
92.7 unID CHR over local WDCJ Prince Frederick, MD
95.3 KDJS Willmar, MN, 1022 miles
95.7 WRQT La Crosse, WI, 804 miles
@ 95.7 KDAL Duluth, MN, 937 miles
@ 95.7 KMKO Lake Crystal, MN, 956 miles
95.7 KKOK Morris, MN, 1064 miles
95.7 unID spanish, suspect KSEC Bentonville, AR
96.9 KZKX Seward, NE, 1049 miles
97.5 unID rock
97.5 KDKK Park Rapids, MN, 1061 miles
98.1 unID sports, suspect WWLS The Village, OK
98.5 unID country
@ 99.3 KTPG Paragould, AR, 758 miles
99.7 unID country
99.7 unID classic rock
105.3 unID DJ talk
I caught a very weak FM Es opening into Manitoba on July 7. At 6:40 PM in my car about 11 miles north of my home in Springfield, VA, I received two signals: a country station on 88.9, and a public radio station on 89.1. The 89.1 signal never identified, but I soon found out 88.9 was relog CKMW from Winkler, MB at 1225 miles. The skip lasted about 2 minutes and had a MUF of 89.1 FM.