Good Question: What defines “second summers,” and how often do we get them?

MINNEAPOLIS — Right now, we’re holding on to the summer heat, even though the leaves are changing. It’s a stretch of surprise warmth that happens often this time of year. So what defines a second summer? And how often do they happen? Good Question.

While the warmth is fleeting, it’s almost always appreciated. The color bursts dangling in the wind tell us fall is in the air, but the air itself is forcing people to shed all those seasonal layers.

Since Friday and going forward it’s felt like a second summer.

Second summer often has these characteristics: high temps in the 70s, several days in a row of that heat (some say at least a week), and it happens after the first frost.

Pete Boulay, a climatologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, says the definition is, effectively, unofficial.

“It’s basically just a spell of mild weather that typically happens after the first frost, like this year. Most of the state got the first frost on the 28th of September,” Boulay said. “The second summer has been something that’s been talked about for basically centuries all throughout northern climates. Not only here in the United States but also in Europe, too.”

The balmy stretch has commonly been called “Indian Summer,” a name with several origin stories. One of them is that Native Americans took advantage of the hazy weather pattern to gather more food for winter. Today, it offers a more leisure opportunity, getting out of doing autumnal house chores while the weather’s still nice.

“It’s not a guaranteed thing, and as you go later in the season, it becomes more of a gift,” Boulay said.

Leave a Comment