Indian Summer: What, Why, and When

What is an Indian Summer?

November 9, 2018
Fall Road

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, mistaken.

What Is an Indian Summer?

Here are the criteria for a true 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 also 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.”

Indian Summer

Why is it Called an 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. Watch a video from Editor-in-Chief Judson Hale about the origin of Indian Summer.

Are you experiencing Indian summer conditions in your area? Let us know in the comments below!

Also try our delicious Indian Summer Applesauce or Indian Pudding on your next Indian summer day.


The 1985 Old Farmer's Almanac


Reader Comments

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Definitely an Indian summer

Definitely an Indian summer in Noethern California this year!

Indian Summer

Weather today (11/13/18) not Indian Summer here in Rochester, NY. Long range it looks like no Indian Summer this year.

IIndian Summer??

Rainy weather, is not "Indian Summer". & this is November 12 & it's pour rain here all day long. :'(


Indian summer as left june to aug month

No Indian Summer here this year!

NO Indian Summer this year! Lots of rain this fall. First time ever that I am so late storing my patio furniture because the weather was so yucky!
Lower Laurentians, QC

Indian Summer

We have had frost, debatable "Hard frost" Lovely warm day today, November 1st after chilly nights and dark, dim, sunless days on end.

Indian Summer 2018 - Central Indiana

Why no Indian Summer this year in Kokomo, IN

Indian Summer

We in southern Michigan have not had it either. Went right from hot summer to very cold days.

Indian Summer

Looked up Indian Summer in relation to British Isles . First mentioned in 1778 by Frenchman John De Crevecoeur , describing Fall Weather in Mohawk Country .

Winnipeg, winterpeg November 14th Indian summer

Today in Winnipeg the temperature was 41 degrees Fahrenheit and it met all the criteria for a beautiful sunny Indian summer day. The foot of snow that we had over the last two weeks was melting quickly great big puddles of water everywhere but the temperature this evening is now minus 4 degrees Celsius

Indian summer

I sure hope Cleveland, Ohio has not had Indian summer yet because that's when I get the Christmas lights done outside. Copd doesn't let me work on lights in the cold.

Indian Summer

I'm glad to see that November is when, of if, "Indian Summer" occurs. I'm old enough to remember when, here in Wisconsin, we had incredibly warm autumn weather back in the "60s. That usually occurred in October but even November & December could be unseasonably warm. But October 1963 had record warm temperatures in the 90s. Of course Ole' man winter followed with a vengeance after those unseasonably balmy periods. In fact decades after it occurred the older generation of locals talked about "the Armistice Day storm of 1940." That November 11th started as an unseasonably beautiful autumn day; duck hunters were out in force on the Mississippi River & the ducks kept coming in from the West. Those hunters were havin' a field day as more & more ducks flew into the river valley.
Those hunters didn't realize all those ducks were fleeing a monstrous storm front approaching from the West. When that storm front arrived on the Mississippi none of them were dressed for the violent change in weather. The barometric pressure that may have set a record low allowed this blizzard to descend with a vengeance on those hunters. Many of them, unable to reach the shore, froze to death. Those who survived learned a hard lesson: if the weather is almost to good to be true don't press your luck. I'm sure Native Americans would've perceived the incoming flocks of ducks for what it was & would've paddled their canoes to shore.

Indian Summers;

Thanks for this great story Ron; That November 11th started as an unseasonably beautiful autumn day; duck hunters were out in force on the Mississippi River & the ducks kept coming in from the West. Those hunters were havin' a field day as more & more ducks flew into the river valley. Those hunters didn't realize all those ducks were fleeing a monstrous storm front approaching from the West. When that storm front arrived on the Mississippi none of them were dressed for the violent change in weather. I agree with the Indian and canoe analogy; I have learned to predict certain weather patterns based on Leaf falling patterns in Autumn;

Indian Summer;

I surmise Indian Summer was the time of the year the American Indians would begin to gather Acorns + Beechnuts for Winter Storage; (I think they got the idea from the Squirrels and Chipmunks); I think I found some wild gooseberries today coincidentally here in Connecticut.

Indian Summer

Indian Summer is here in Aurora, CO. Beautiful warm days and very chilly nights. It has been this way since the hard freeze last week.

Indian Summer

October 8, 2017 - Tulsa, OK. - feels like Indian Summer - 70's and 80's for daytime highs and 40's and 50's at night.

Indian summer

We've had a few nights of below freezing in Montrose, CO but today the sun was out and warm. So our Indian summer is starting.

Indian summer in northern Indiana

I wonder if we are experiencing an indian summer. A few weeks ago it got down to the low 60s. We didn't have a hard frost but it did seem like it was going to start being cold. Now in October we are having 80 degree days and 50-60 degrees at night.

Indian Summer in New England

I would say here in New England(New Hampshire), we are having an Indian Summer. We have not had a cold spell, but some towns have had a few frosty mornings.
September 24 - 90 degrees, overnight in the low 60's.
September 25 - high 90's, overnight in the 60's.
September 26 - low 90's, overnight 65 degrees.

Indian Summer

I live in Michigan in the south East corner of the state, in Petersburg, near the Ohio border. I believe that we are experiencing Indian Summer right now. In the past few weeks it was nice cool weather now it is so sweltering hot we can hardly go out in it. I always remember my mom telling us that it was Indian Summer the second week after we went back to school in the fall September and that would be over in late October as a matter of fact around Halloween.

Indian Summer

The weather has definitely been hot where I live also, the degrees have been in the 90's. First day of Fall 91, Second day of Fall 93, Third day of Fall 95, Fourth day of Fall 94, and the Fifth day of Fall 91

Southern Indian Summer

Unlike the North, our Indian Summer comes in late Spring and tell us, roughly, how hot our actual Summer will be.

Indian Summer

Believe we are now experiencing our Indian Summer as we had three killing frosts (lows in low 20s) and today's high will be a gorgeous and balmy near 70 with tomorrow - Friday's high to be low 70s! This morning we also had dense fog. This year's Indian Summer in Lancaster, OH, will be short-lived as Saturday, our high temps are dropping to low 40s and we won't be seeing these wonderful balmy temps again for a long time!

had hard frost here and now

had hard frost here and now is suppose to be in the high 60's and low 70's this week . So Indian summer in N E Indiana

My wife got scolded (by a

My wife got scolded (by a snooty know it all) while on a hike for using the expression "Indian Summer" as the guy said it is offensive and related to the old offensive phrase "Indian Giver". I don't believe it, but has anyone else been told this is offensive to use?

Indian Summer

I used the term this week as we are currently getting snowed out in September, and I mentioned I look forward to the Indian Summer. The twenty somethings smirked at each other as though I had used a racial slur, and I chalked it up to ignorance of this generation that has pretty much had the use of the English language cut out of their curriculum in school.

Indian Summer

This has never been a slander to any native American. They still refer to it as their Indian Summer as well. The younger generation has been manipulated into thinking everything is about a slur or a stab at someone else. It's not. I too look forward to my Indian Summers, and when it doesn't happen, that's when I go on vacation ;)

Re: whether the term Indian Summer is politically incorrect/ off

Being native American myself, with ancestors dating as far back as 1896, I say it's not at all offensive to myself. However, I can't speak for the rest of society whom seems to be offended over everything in the name of political correctness these days. I say, use the term if you're not uncomfortable doing so while not being racist towards us "savage native injuns". Haha. Guy's obviously a DICK, and more than likely white. As such, has no absolute "right" to be offended, and needs to get over himself, in all honesty. Although I certainly don't refer to myself as Indian personally. Why? Indians are from India, Native Americans by birth, being indigenous to North America. However, I do use the term myself to describe an unnaturally long growing season in Northern New England. 'Nuff said.

My wife got scolded

No, but if I did I would simply tell him he is wrong and why does he believe it is an insult and not an honor to have something named after you? There is nothing derogatory about this time of year.

snooty hikers

must have been the same guy that told me I'll have to stop wearing my Redskins Football Club hat on Cedar Run Trail in S.N.P. He was standing awfully close to a cliff.