We are on the downward trending side of solar cycle 24. Nothing to be sad about, as it is not a big surprise. It happens every 11 years. Plenty of communications to be had using CW or digital modes right now.
As for the lack of sunspots creating low SNR, it seems if there are few sunspots, then there is little ionospheric disturbance, therefore more stable satellite signals.
Scintillation may very evident in my location. Like clockwork, beginning in late afternoon, early evening, signal drops a couple of dB or more for a few hours them comes back around 9pm or so.