A Broken Sky Continues – The Anomaly Project

A while ago I wrote about the propagation phenomenon I was seeing around the time Ida was hammering the gulf coast states– namely that there wasn’t much propagation to be had in the western states or east of the center of the country. Signals simply weren’t landing where they used to at all, and the whole area seems barren of propagation.

As Ida faded, the situation improved somewhat for a couple of weeks– I was able to start getting a few of the states in the west from time to time in the mornings.

But as time has passed, I’ve been seeing that huge hole in the propagation patterns get larger again. Ida is long gone, so I’m not sure what is causing the effect. But it’s getting harder and harder to reach anyone out west on most of the HF bands I typically work.

Now granted, my “long” history of watching the signal reports only tracks back to May of this year, but this is a far different pattern than what I’ve been looking at before Ida.

Investigating the Western Propagation Anomaly

I got curious whether it was only me having the issue with my less than optimal antenna situation, or if the same huge hole in the propagation patterns was being experienced by others in the western states also.

So I decided to go back to PSK Reporter and run a few searches to see where other hams in states like Nevada, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Texas etc. were seeing their signals land.

PSK Reporter offers searches per grid square, but they are limited to signals sent in the last 15 minutes. This means I’d be more likely to find someone transmitting in the last 15 minutes from a grid square with a big population.

So I pulled up Grid Tracker and turned on the grid square numbered overlay.

The Maidenhead Grid Squares over the Western USA.

By Zooming in, I could see the larger cities in the western states and pick out the grid squares they were located in for my search.

For instance, most of Las Vegas is in DM26.

Most of Las Vegas is in DM26, with a little bleeding over into DM25.

I chose 17m as the band because it’s a good daytime band.

San Diego, California Area Signal Report

San Diego Area – Grid DM14 -Sept 24th 2021 Mid-Afternoon

Salt Lake City, Utah Signal Report

Salt Lake City, Utah – Grid DN40 – Sept 24, 2021 – Mid Afternoon

Seattle Washington Area Signal Report

Seattle Washington – Grid CN87 – Sept 24, 20221 – Mid-Afternoon

Denver/Colorado Springs Area Signal Report

Denver/Colorado Springs – Grid DM78 – Sept 24, 2021 – Mid-Afternoon

Dallas Texas Signal Report

Dallas, Texas – Grid EM12 – Sept 24, 2021 – Mid-Afternoon

Las Vegas Nevada Signal Report

Las Vegas Nevada – Grid DM26 – Sept 24, 2021 – Mid-Afternoon

Patterns, Conjecture, Questions…

I know these are just one days worth of screenshots of where signals are being reported landing in a span of an hour or two, but they generally represent the same pattern I’ve been seeing since Hurricane Ida.

Namely, a HUGE skip distance around the point of origin, where there is almost nothing landing, and then a tight dense signalfall just beyond that margin all the way to the eastern seaboard. There are always a couple local signal reports, but then nothing for 1500-2000 miles!

I’ve spent a little time looking at various types of weather reports, looking for a matching visual pattern that might give me a clue what the cause of this very odd, unusual pattern is, but so far have not been able to find anything that screams, “It’s MEEeeeeee me me me!”

I’ve looked at barometric pressure, humidity, wind direction to name a few.

And I kinda wonder how many other hams are noticing it.

Propagation IS weird, but this seems a little too big a change to last so long without some sort of important factor causing it.