On September 9, 2020, I experienced a mammoth tropospheric duct opening which brought stations from Nova Scotia and New England to my home in northern Virginia, at distances up to 813 miles away and bringing in 30 new stations logged.
Although a few months have passed since this record-breaking opening, I kept about six hours of RF recording from roughly 95.1-103.5 FM recorded during the overnight hours and finally had some time to really go over it all in-depth. The result of my deep review is the revelation of four more new stations from the opening, bringing the grand total to 34 new stations logged.
My FM DX Log has been updated with the new stations listed below.
95.9 WATD-FM Marshfield MA, 420 miles
96.1 WSRS Worcester, MA, “96-1 SRS” – AC, 378 miles
97.7 WCTY Norwich, CT “97.7 WCTY” – country, 335 miles
102.3 WMOS Stonington, CT, “102.3 The Wolf” – country, 344 miles over local 102.3 WMMJ
Radio signals from Nova Scotia were heard over 800 miles away in Northern Virginia during a massive tropospheric ducting event in the overnight hours of September 9, 2020.
The duct, which began shortly before midnight Sept. 8, also brought in sustained signals from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York with distances over 400 miles away continuously until about 11 AM. Other DXers in New England reported receiving signals from near my home in Virginia at comparable distances, and a reader in Nova Scotia told me that she also received stations from Massachusetts during the event.
I turned on my radios at 11:44 PM Sept. 8 and immediately found 98.1 WCTK, a never before-received signal from New Bedford, MA at 393 miles away, booming in with decoded HD Radio. Soon after, I found more signals from throughout New England coming in.
The golden prize of the opening didn’t occur until 1:36 AM, when I discovered a weak signal from 103.5 CKHZ-FM Halifax, NS in Canada coming in right over local 103.5 WTOP. CKHZ-FM, at 813 miles away, is now the furthest radio station I have received via tropospheric ducting, unseating my previous record set in 2005 by 99.9 WQRC Barnstable, MA at 420 miles away. It also marked the first time that I received a different country on the radio dial at my home via tropo. WTOP is a very strong local signal at 21 miles away from me, so the fact that CKHZ-FM was able to come in over it is simply amazing. Two other Canadian stations from the Halifax area of Nova Scotia, previously-logged 95.7 CJNI-FM and 100.1 CIOO-FM, were also heard. All in all, I received 30 new radio stations during the opening. A list of these new stations can be found further below in this post.
The opening also gave me my first “three prong” signal–a signal that was heard separately, at different times, via the three major radio signal propagation methods: Sporadic E-Skip, meteor scatter, and tropospheric ducting. That station is Halifax’s 100.1 CIOO-FM. I first heard CIOO-FM via meteor scatter propagation on Sept. 20, 2006 and a few times since then via skip. Given limitations related to propagation and distance, having a three prong signal is very rare and it took me 21 years to get one.
Tropo enhancement with signals coming in over 400 miles away as observed in this tropo duct is common in the southeastern USA and Gulf Coast, but it is unheard of in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country where I live. DXers in New England will, occasionally, receive stations from Virginia and the Carolinas, but the reception is usually one way and I don’t benefit from it as the endpoints of the duct are usually out of range for me. My distant receptions to north and northeast often bottom out at New York City, which is 225 miles away. These stations are usually in for less than an hour before the duct falls apart and they disappear. To have an all-night opening bringing signals 400-820 miles away is something that just doesn’t happen in my area.
Throughout the opening, many of my local Washington, DC and Fredericksburg, VA radio stations were fighting with New England stations for control of the frequency. Some local signals were simply gone off the dial without a trace, with multiple distant signals coming in all at once in place of them. The pile-up of so many signals coming in at once reminded me of the once-in-a-lifetime colossal July 6, 2004 sporadic E opening, where almost every local radio station of mine disappeared to far-away signals coming in from the Midwest.
Below is a list of the stations I received from the tropo opening, including HD Radio and RDS screenshots, which have been added to my RDS/HD Radio Screenshots Gallery page. For brevity, I have only included previously-logged stations beyond 150 miles away that I don’t usually receive at my home during DX events. My FM DX Log has also been updated with the new content. Click on the audio players to hear audio from stations.
= new station logged
88.9 WERS Boston, MA, college, 414 miles
89.7 WGBH Boston, MA, public radio, 406 miles over local W209BY
92.3 WPRO-FM Providence, RI, “92 Pro FM” – CHR, 375 miles
93.3 WSNE-FM Taunton, MA “Coast 93-3” – hot AC, 385 miles over local WFLS
93.1 WPAT-FM Paterson, NJ, “Amor 93.1” – spanish, 223 miles
93.7 WEEI-FM Lawrence, MA “WEEI” – sports, 424 miles
93.9 W230CO Seaford, DE, “La ZMX 93.9” – spanish, 91 miles over local WKYS
93.9 WNYC-FM New York, NY, public radio, 223 miles over WKYS
94.1 WHJY Providence, RI, “94 HJY” – rock, 379 miles
95.1 WXTK West Yarmouth, MA, talk, 424 miles
95.7 CJNI-FM Halifax, NS “News 95-7” – news, 813 miles
96.1 WJVC Center Moriches, NY, “My Country 96.1” – country, 283 miles
96.3 WEII Dennis, MA, “Cape Cod Sports Radio 96-3” – sports, 430 miles over local WHUR
96.7 WARW-FM Port Chester, NY, “Air 1” – religious, 242 miles
96.9 WBQT Boston, MA, “Hot 96-9” – urban, 413 miles
97.5 WALK-FM Patchogue, NY, “Walk 97.5” – hot AC, 271 miles
97.7 WKAF Brockton, MA, “The New 97-7” – classic CHR, 406 miles
97.9 WSKQ-FM New York, NY, “La Mega 97.9” – spanish, 226 miles
98.1 WCTK New Bedford, MA, “98.1 Cat Country” – country, 393 miles
98.3 WKJY Hempstead, NY, “K-Joy 98.3” – AC, 240 miles
98.7 WEPN-FM New York, NY, “ESPN Radio” – sports, 227 miles over local WMZQ
99.1 WPLM-FM Plymouth, MA, “Easy 99.1” – AC, 414 miles over local WDCH
99.7 WEAN-FM Wakefield, RI, “WPRO” – talk, 359 miles
99.9 WODE-FM Easton, PA, “99-9 The Hawk” – classic hits, 179 miles
99.9 WEZN Bridgeport, CT, “Star 99-9” – AC, 281 miles
100.1 CIOO-FM Halifax, NS, “C100” – CHR, 812 miles
100.7 WZLX Boston, MA, “100.7 WZLX” – classic rock, 413 miles
100.9 WKNL New London, CT, “K-Hits FM” – classic hits, 331 miles
101.3 WKCI-FM Hamden, CT, “KC 101” – CHR, 297 miles
101.5 WKFY East Harwich, MA, “Koffee FM” – AC, 438 miles over local WBQB
101.7 WBEA Southold, NY, “101-7 The Beach” – CHR, 292 miles
101.7 WBWL-FM Lynn, MA, “101-7 The Bull” – country, 416 miles
Long distance FM enthusiasts are always watchful for better ways to authenticate station reception to cement the credibility of their loggings. Radio Data System (RDS) is one way to do this, providing the received stations are equipped with an RDS encoder. Sadly, not all FM broadcasts feature RDS, illustrated below. Prevalence varies with the continent the listener resides in.