To answer this very common though surprisingly difficult question, a technique was developed to reconstruct a local temperature time series of summer average maximum temperatures in north-central Alabama since 1893. The results show that the warmest summer was 1925 at 34.9° ±0.4°C but that 5 other years are statistically so close they could not be eliminated as contenders. (The trend is −0.13°C decade−1.) Our insistence that this ambiguity be recognized by the inquirer, usually the media, causes confusion and reduces their interest level because they desire an absolute answer to, in their view, a very simple question.

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University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama