Here Comes an 'Indian Summer'

After a frosty start to last weekend, a milder week is upon us. Welcome to Indian Summer.

After a chilly start to last weekend, we have warmed up in a hurry and have a mild week on tap around the region.  While the weather won't be the greatest tomorrow afternoon and on Thursday night into Friday, temperatures will be quite a bit milder this week than they were last week.  

Since many of us had a frost on the pumpkin or on the peppers in our garden, this week's weather is similar to a typical "Indian Summer" pattern.

The term's usage was first attributed to an 18th century French-American writer named John Hector St. John de Crevecoeur.  de Crevecoeur wrote "Then a severe frost succeeds which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer."  

Catherine Parr Traill, a Canadian settler, wrote in the 1830's that the warmer weather pattern was due to fermentation of vegetation in Canadian forests in October and early November. She predicted that as North America became more settled over the coming centuries, Indian Summer would become a less common phenomenon. I think we can safely say she was wrong on this assertion.

Other equivalent phrases to describe a late season warm-up, such as St. Martin's Summer, are typically used to describe the fall warming trend in parts of Europe.

For us, voluminous coats of snow aren't always likely in the winter to follow, but in New England and around the Great Lakes, the snowy reference is much more apt to apply.  

In many cases, an Indian Summer pattern typically includes high pressure anchored off of the East Coast or in the Southeastern United States and includes the jet stream's position to our north.  This allows us to bask in fleeting warmth before the pendulum swings colder.  

This upcoming round of milder weather will include some variation in temperature — with Tuesday cooler than Monday — but it will generally feature above average temperatures for the course of the week.


Tom Thunstrom is the editor and publisher of Phillyweather.net. You can also follow Phillyweather.net on twitter at @phillywx or on Facebook.


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