What a fall it has been here in El Paso! Temperatures have been running above normal for September and early October (upper 80s and low 90's). I had a recent conversation with a KVIA viewer that referred to our recent weather as being an Indian summer. We had a good conversation about the use of this terminology.
An Indian summer refers to a time of year when temperatures are well above normal. It's a period of about a week that is associated with warm, calm weather occurring in the autumn months. Many references point out that a true Indian summer can not occur until there has been a frost or killing freeze (which we haven't had). In most instances, this is a weather phenomenon that occurs in the fall. It can be applied in winter, as long as an area experiences well above average temperatures.
I was curious how the term Indian summer came about. I checked out many sources as to the origins and there are many. According the 1985 Old Farmer's Almanac, the term goes back to the very early settlers in New England. It says that each year the people would welcome the arrival of a cold wintry weather in late October when they could leave their stockades (camp or military base) 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.