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Indian Summer: What, Why, and When

Enjoying Indian Summer in your neck of the woods?

Learn more about Indian Summer: What, Why, When.

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In the fall, it seems that almost any warm day is referred to by most people as "Indian summer."

And, while their error is certainly not of the world-shaking variety, they are, for the most part, in error. Here are criteria for an Indian summer:

  • As well as being warm, the atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky, there is no wind, the barometer is standing high, and the nights are clear and chilly.
  • A moving, cool, shallow polar air mass is converting into a deep, warm, stagnant anticyclone (high pressure) system, which has the effect of causing the haze and large swing in temperature between day and night.
  • The time of occurrence is important: The warm days must follow a spell of cold weather or a good hard frost.
  • The conditions described above must occur between St. Martin's Day (November 11) and November 20. For over 200 years, The Old Farmer's Almanac has adhered to the saying, "If All Saints' (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin's brings out Indian summer."

Why is Indian summer called Indian summer? There are many theories. Some say it comes from the early Algonquian Native Americans, who believed that the condition was caused by a warm wind sent from the court of their southwestern god, Cautantowwit.

The most probable origin of the term, in our view, goes back to the very early settlers in New England. Each year they would welcome the arrival of a cold wintry weather in late October when they could leave their stockades unarmed. But then came a time when it would suddenly turn warm again, and the Native Americans would decide to have one more go at the settlers. "Indian summer," the settlers called it.

Are you experiencing Indian summer conditions in your area?  Please post a comment below!

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Comments

Ever since I was a little

By GerryParsons on October 31

Ever since I was a little girl (80 years ago), we called the warm weather period that came AFTER the first hard frost "Indian Summer". I will accept any and all theories about the origin of the name. We have lived in central Montana for 40 years. I have never seen a more beautiful autumn than this year. The climate conditions had to be just right to allow the trees to retain their leaves while they turned brilliant gold. Every street and byway in our town (Great Falls) was so beautiful it took your breath away. Then a few days ago, Jack Frost sneaked in early in the morning and stole all our Gold.

The term Indian Summer, other

By stephen stafford on October 26

The term Indian Summer, other than the fact the American Indians also knew of the seasonal phenomenon, actually has nothing to do with the American Indian.
It has been an English term since the 14th century.
It refers to a period of sudden warmth right before the winter sets in. It is the welcomed last chance for getting your goods to port and loaded on to ships bound for the Indian Ocean and later the Indies.
It was for everyone a hectic period of much needed good weather. Once Indian Summer is over the weather turns horrific and ships leaving then had a much decreased chance of a successful voyage. Ships sank and never returned or the trading in the Indies and Asia was late and poor.

Last chance for the Indian ocean trade.

Makes since, they have Indian

By Olivia Welford on October 26

Makes since, they have Indian Summer in Canada, Southern Austrailia, Tasmania and New Zealand also.
The same term, Indian Summer, is used wherever English people settled and also has 4 seasons.

I live in North Central

By JudiB on October 12

I live in North Central Nevada, the high desert of Mason Valley. I grew up on a farm here and we have what is known here as Indian Summer almost every year. The weather changes from very hot to very cool, usually with snow or hail (this year) in the space of about a week. Temps usuall fall below freezing for 1-2 nights, causing many to lose a garden. Then, afterward it turns warm again, but not as hot as it was before. The nights change from 60° to a comfortable 40°. Perfect weather day and night. It usually lasts 2-3 weeks. We're at the end of it now, and expect much colder temps in a few days.

Oct 10 thanksgiving weekend

By Tara ward on October 12

Oct 10 thanksgiving weekend here in reddeer Alberta were having a beautiful Indian summer it been really warm for the last few days

They said only between Nov.

By M Barry on October 27

They said only between Nov. 11 and Nov. 20.

Have been in the Northwest

By Willie R on October 6

Have been in the Northwest for more than 23 years. This is the best summer period that I can remember. Don't know if this year officially qualifies as an Indian Summer, but the weather sure has been nice.

I always assumed it was a

By Michael H on October 4

I always assumed it was a period or several periods of unusually warm weather during the months of October and November. It was a phrase coined by the early settlers who experienced raids on crops by indians during the same periods of unusual warmth.

i remember this from grade

By sarino

i remember this from grade school. we read it around halloween and thanksgiving. such a wonderful story. and now we have to be politically correct about it. no wonder this country is in so much trouble
http://www.tkinter.smig.net/Chicago/InjunSummer/

The thing is native americans

By Coreyannder on October 30

The thing is native americans aren't indians (or injuns for that matter.) Indians are from india so it's not as much ahout being politically correct as it is about actually being correct, that and not all the "injuns" are dead either.

No need for political

By Hernando1

No need for political correctness. I'm a "Native American" and we call ourselves and each other "Indians". Really. It's OK

I'm Native American as well

By K-rosales on October 6

I'm Native American as well and I do NOT like being called Indian. We are NOT Indian though we respect our distant relatives in Asia. Let's get it right and undue what the settlers called us ignorantly and stupidly at first glance.

Agree. I'm "Native American"

By ajkite

Agree. I'm "Native American" and I don't mind if people call me an Indian

First off, my ancestry is

By Kim Dawn on October 14

First off, my ancestry is what I refer to as being a western/eastern European mutt mix. That being said, the discussion about being called an Indian as opposed to being called a native American confuses me. Weren't most if not all of the people's that are being put into these two categories anything but?...As I understand things, none are from India. And weren't their ancestors here long before this part of the world was named for Amerigo Vespucci, who was Italian? Can anyone else understand my confusion? Also, any more I don't really care what people call me. So long as it is done politely, courteously, & with at least a modicum of respect. Especially when you remember that there is only one race. The human race. So shouldn't we be more concerned about all of us showing pride in our race by all of us striving to be the most humane individuals we can be?

Hi...when I was in school we

By Paul Legeny

Hi...when I was in school we were told that the indian summer only came after the first snowfall. The story we were told when we were young is that the snow came sooner then expected and the indians did not harvest thier crop in a timely manner. Then came a warm spell of weather, they got a reprieve, had an opportunity to harvested their crops and no one died of starvation through the cold winter months.

It seems like the above

By Ray M

It seems like the above comments of Indian summers are from the USA.
Does an Indian summer only happen in North America?
I live in New Zealand. We often get comfortable weather, even a mix of seasons in one day in the fall and in spring.

do you have american indians

By sarino

do you have american indians in new zealand? just call it what you want. i look more forward to indian summer than almost anything else.

Due to the weather

By Hermann Waxl

Due to the weather conditions, a ground fog in early morning occurs. In pioneer and settlers time, Indians would use this condition to approach farms and villages without being seen. Therefore, the settlers called it an Indian Summer. This has been information received over these years from older generations

I thought this week was

By Michele Ann

I thought this week was indian summer because of the heat wave

I thought so, too and in fact

By CharLena

I thought so, too and in fact was just speaking to my best friend about this being good weather for his birthday. He said that usually his birthday has been warm, so I said it must be Indian Summer. Now armed with information about November and the first frost, I suppose what we're having is a late summer revisit.
Or should we take into account the massive changes in weather systems over the course of the last couple of years? Mmmmh, makes you wonder.

In Cheshire, England, we are

By Syd Kitching

In Cheshire, England, we are experiencing what has come to be called an Indian Summer. It was brilliant to find out just why it is called that and I thank you for all of your information. As you can expect, we British do spend a great deal of time talking about the weather as it can be so changeable here. The term; 'we get all four seasons in one day,' is not an exaggeration here, believe me.
So thank you again for your fascinating information.

Hello Cheshire, England! You

By Kim Dawn on October 14

Hello Cheshire, England! You have certainly made your part of England more inviting. I'm from Colorado in the good old USA. We too have that delightful phenomenon that gives us four distinctly different seasons. We natives tell those visiting, "if you don't like the weather now, just wait a bit". It's the best! It truly makes one appreciate all the blessings surrounding you. Because you always have something to compare it to.

Hello, Syd, I'm in Surrey,

By Almanac Staff

Hello, Syd, I'm in Surrey, England right now. The Almanac's heritage is "Old" England, indeed. Our definition of Indian Summer is here: http://www.almanac.com/content/indian-summer-what-why-and-when It's a bit more than any warm day. Of course, there are other meanings; this is the one that we've followed for over 200 years. Thank you for the compliments! We are so happy to hear that you've enjoyed the information here. Kind regards, your OFA editors

Yes, I think I got it a

By Syd Kitching

Yes, I think I got it a little wrong concerning 'our' Indian Summer. It was really hot and sunny here yesterday after a week of cold weather and according to the weather forecast we were going to be in for a very hot and sunny period with temperature reaching 25 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, today has been cold and cloudy with a slight drizzle.
I did enjoy reading your article though.
I suppose the next thing will be the predictions of a 'white Christmas'.
Thanks again.

The timing is off as its now

By Bill NC

The timing is off as its now January 13,2013. And the atmosphere is not hazy or smoky, so no. But we are having some warm weather today, short sleeve weather, a windbreaker is too warm. And the nights do get cold. So its similar enough that some call it an Indian summer.

What you were experiencing is

By Theresa F.

What you were experiencing is more likely what many people call the January thaw.

It has been really cold here.

By RParker

It has been really cold here. Furnace has been on close to 2 weeks now. Only in the low 40's for high's and low 30's for night time temps. Had a real heavy frost this morn. Ground was a sea of white this morn.

Here in California, we've got

By Christine A. Weaver

Here in California, we've got the sunny, warm (record-breaking high) temperatures and haze, 'clearly' an inversion layer. But the evenings have also been warmish, not chilly. A high pressure system just to the east of us is expected to travel further east later today, allowing temperatures to drop.

We didn't have Indian Summer

By carolannevans

We didn't have Indian Summer yet..it's plus 2 degrees currently..

are you from State College,

By Monica Mathews on October 28

are you from State College, PA?

A wonderful surprise today,

By Robert Garson

A wonderful surprise today, the sun is shining, temps rising and the snow is melting fast here in SW Manitoba. Aside from the date, this has to be Indian Summer.

What does it matter in

By Ed Hanus

What does it matter in northern Illinois, wait 5 minutes and it will change. The hot summer is over, winter is on it's way. We have had heavy frost and the leaves are down and by the weekend they say we will have the 70s.

In Virginia its been in the

By wanda s t 1959

In Virginia its been in the 60s alot with nighttime temps generally chilly in the 30s and 40s. Next week were supposed to be well in the 70s. Does this apply to an indian summer? Do indian summers mean a mild winter? I want that colder winter

Does there not have to be

By Marg

Does there not have to be snow first before Indian Summer here in Ontario?

In Michigan. Its beautiful.

By Sanberry

In Michigan. Its beautiful. I look forward to this every year.

Days are warm (70s) and

By Clair Coe

Days are warm (70s) and nights are cool (30s) here in Northeast Missouri! Trees are beautiful and last minute Autumn chores taken care of. Woodpeckers are enjoying the first suet block and scolding the blue jay who wants to join them. 3 inches of rain over the weekend.

I wonder about the saying "If

By Bucky Edgett

I wonder about the saying "If All Saints' (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin's brings out Indian summer." Is that a prediction...

"If All Saints' (November 1) brings out winter, then St. Martin's will bring out Indian summer."

...or a statement?

"All Saints' (November 1) might bring out winter, whereas St. Martin's might bring out Indian summer."

Hello, Bucky, The answer to

By Almanac Staff

Hello, Bucky, The answer to your question is that it’s a prediction, i.e., a wintry November 1 will mean a summery November 11.

Lot going on here in

By Rachel Cargill

Lot going on here in Somerset, CA (El Dorado County) my Ranch is approximately at 3,200 elevation that is at the high end and low end of is below 3,000 elevation and sits within a canyon, at times I get some crazy winter weather that most folks don't seam to believe. Cold nights with frosty temps, but warm afternoons. Blue sky, sunny, temps running between Hi 50-60's and low teens-30's. Still have some acorns on the ground, some leafs dangling in Oak trees and other trees continue turning beautiful colors. Some plants are putting out another wave of buds such as my climbing roses, which I'll most likely get another 'bout of colored flowers including petunias and mums. Birds are busy, but playing too including Mr. Squirrel annoying the blue birds. Fun to listen how they argue with each other. Few crows flying and making noises. Last week my friend came to visit for coffee with about 3 inches of snow on her vehicle, which she lives just over 3 miles above me. No snow here in Somerset, just cold chillie sunny weather. I was taught by several old school elders in my younger years while being raised on a small county farm just how to read and listen to the signs of the outdoors to determine upcoming weather changes, etc. Sure glad I paid attention to the elders as most of them were from Texas, Oklahoma including the Chocktaw Indian Tribe.

Wow, I live, well I consider

By tamara827

Wow, I live, well I consider it upstate NY, but people in upstate NY would say otherwise. On the 29th Of October we had about 4-5 inches of SNOW, prior to that a pretty good frost. It had been quite cold for a few days. Now, on the 7th and 8th it was nearly 70 degrees. If this isn't Farmers Almanac's version of Indian Summer, I have no idea what would be. All I know is that I am happy that it has been warm and peacefully mild out! The fog I could live without, but it is much better than snow or ice.

Good example? Wow, what a

By ncole1

Good example?

Wow, what a strict definition. I think November 13, 1999 across the Corn Belt (Kansas City, MO , Des Moines, IA , Minneapolis, MN etc.) would have qualified

-moderate (not high) visiblities
-dry high pressure
-max temps in 70's and 80's and mins in the 40s
-following freezing nights a few days or a couple weeks earlier

could be here in Northern

By bobd20

could be here in Northern California central valley.

I think I am in the majority

By Norma.R

I think I am in the majority when I say that I never really knew what an Indian Summer was until now with this descriptive article. Thank you for giving me my subject for today. I try to learn something new every day and this is it.

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Here, in south, central

By Steven Meredith

Here, in south, central Wyoming, it's been a beautiful Indian summer. Warm days and chilly nights. Been great for getting the yard and shop ready for good old winter.

Not yet, Indian Summer must

By jlanham

Not yet, Indian Summer must occur between St. Martin's Day (November 11) and November 20. For over 200 years, The Old Farmer's Almanac has adhered to the saying, "If All Saints' (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin's brings out Indian summer."
Same conditions here in WV (Saint Albans) But time is not right, for a few more days anyway! LOL :)

Here in south central

By Sandra Kindred

Here in south central Kentucky we'd been trying to keep warm at night with a fire in the wood stove. Now suddenly my hostas, meant for next spring, have come up because it's 73 and sunny! I guess I'm not the only one who is confused........the plants are too!

I think our Indian Summer is

By Cynthia Sparks

I think our Indian Summer is here in West Hamlin, WV. It's in the low 30's at night and up in the low 70's, high 60's during the day. Beautiful weather for finishing outdoor chores.

Not yet, Indian Summer must

By jlanham

Not yet, Indian Summer must occur between St. Martin's Day (November 11) and November 20. For over 200 years, The Old Farmer's Almanac has adhered to the saying, "If All Saints' (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin's brings out Indian summer."
Same conditions here in WV (Saint Albans) But time is not right, for a few more days anyway! LOL :)

I don't know about Indian

By Esther Leonard

I don't know about Indian Summer, but I had to scrape frost off my windshield this morning. The sun is now shining and it's much warmer. It was good to see two fellow West Virginians on this site.

Unusually warm here in

By mamabarr

Unusually warm here in Northwest Wisconsin.
Night time lows well above freezing in high 30's & low 40's and daytime highs in mid 60's. If you don't have your outside chores done by now, it's your own fault.

Been really cold in middle

By Richard Stockstill

Been really cold in middle Tennessee the last week. Now we are going to have middle 70's for the week, at least. Gives me a chance to do the last minute winterizing before winter sets in !!!

Unseasonably warm here in

By nicfam5

Unseasonably warm here in northern Il

In Indiana we are

By Ann Hicks

In Indiana we are experiencing an unusually warm fall. I even saw some forsythia blooming yesterday! They are beautiful but I supposed that means they won't bloom very much in the spring.

Here in little Delaware it is

By katherine webb on October 16

Here in little Delaware it is Indian Summer like weather also. My neighbor has beautiful yellow iruss up in full bloom after days when we needed heat on.

It is a warm, beautiful day

By ewhughe

It is a warm, beautiful day in North
Georgia. The fall leaves are on the way out but still beautiful.

I'm in Montana & my bushes

By Georgia Trathen

I'm in Montana & my bushes are budding out. It has been very nice here, especially compared to most years.

Here in the Hill Country of

By James Shaw

Here in the Hill Country of Texas the highs have mid 70s and lows, low 50s.Terrific Fall weather.

God Bless Texas. I love this

By Cpizzitolaiii

God Bless Texas. I love this weather.

We are having beautiful

By Elma Alvarez

We are having beautiful weather here in deep South Texas..crispy mornings and most of the day in the lower 80's..unusual for our part of t he country.

You are right Elma, forgot to

By hfd

You are right Elma, forgot to mention the beautiful bluebonnet flowers on the I37 San Antonio to Corpus Christi corridor.

We're having warm, beautiful

By Catherine Boeckmann

We're having warm, beautiful fall weather here in New Hampshire!

So are we: with very chilly

By Barb B

So are we: with very chilly nights!

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