After hearing someone mention that there were French stations on 2 metres, I had a listen to the FT8 frequency of 144.174 MHz for 24 hours from 20:00 UTC 23rd to 20:00 UTC 24th Oct 2018.
This is a chart of the signals heard...
If this was a chart of signals heard with say a medium size Yagi beam then I'd say it looked pretty good. However, these signals were heard with a Slim Jim half-wave vertical in the attic of my house!
The game changer here is the FT8 digital mode. When I was pretty active on 2m SSB before, I never heard a signal from Denmark (OZ) with the 9 element beam that I had. Now with FT8, I've heard Denmark for the first time. Amazing.
OZ1BEF in Denmark was 1240 kms away which is pretty good for tropo.
Another interesting signal was that of F8DBF in Britanny. At a distance of 475 kms, it was just a reminder that the North-West tip of France isn't that far from my location in Cork and is about the same distance as Southampton on the south coast of England.
Great to see so much activity on 144 MHz!
This by the way was the computer model for the tropo forecast from F5LEN...
It gives a hint of the tropo conditions but not the extent. It just shows that you really do need to listen to the band and not to depend too much on computer models.