What is an Indian Summer?

30 August 2016, 16:01

Here in the UK, we love to joke about the weather. We do our fair share of moaning about it too. One day it’s way too hot and the next it’s pouring with rain. We hate the snow and there’s always a lot of drama surrounding the weather in one way or another.

But an Indian summer can be very welcome in the UK, especially if the actual summer months throughout June, July and August haven’t been very good. Put simply, the term is given to a period of nice weather occurring in September through to October. This is specific to the northern hemisphere. It’s possible to get an Indian summer in the southern hemisphere too, although it’s much less common and it occurs in the late spring months in this instance.

Most of the time the weather is warm rather than hot, but the record for the hottest temperature in October in the UK is an impressive 29.4 degrees Celsius. That occurred on 1st October in 1985. It still stands as the top temperature today.

The true Indian summer will typically begin in late September, although it’s not that uncommon for it to begin in October. In rare cases it can go through until November, but by that time we’re normally thinking about Christmas and it can feel rather odd wandering around in t-shirts!

There’s no telling when one of these Indian summers is going to arrive, though. Some people head off on holiday in mid- to late-September and get very lucky with the weather. Mind you, ‘lucky’ doesn’t necessarily mean the temperatures soar into the high twenties Celsius. It might just mean they improve to the level where it’s sunny and feeling reasonably warm.

So while the true Indian summer may be rarer than you’d think, most of us can remember September and October days that are warmer than they would normally be. You may be familiar with the idea of referring to average temperatures for the time of year, but that’s just what they are – averages. We might be lucky and get some nice days, but it is just as likely we will see lots of days that are colder. If we’ve had a good summer with some long hot days in the mix, even the regular temperatures for the time of year might seem colder than they actually are. We’ve got used to having warmer days, so the introduction of colder ones can be a shock.

It remains to be seen whether we’ll see an Indian summer this year. We’re still enjoying some hot weather towards the end of August, but with September just a few days away as I write this, the cooler days are surely not far away. Unless, of course, the weather knows something we currently don’t…