I realized today that 25 years ago was my first summer in Washington DC area. At the time, that summer set many of the local records for hottest summer, longest streaks of hot days, and many variations on that. I've asked a friend who is local and extremely in to weather observation* how recent summers would compare, and he said, with little hesitation, 'hotter'. What used to be record-setting is now not very noticeable.
I made the challenge/request on my twitter feed (http://twitter.com/#!/rgrumbine), but for here: I'd be interested in seeing a widget+ of some kind that would track this year versus 1987 in DC and Chicago. Plus, of course, any other cities you're interested in. 1987 was, at the time, an extremely hot year. For another comparison, say summer 1981? 1982 was part of the major El Niño of 82-83, so perhaps would not be a good year to reference.
For keeping an eye on weather by way of twitter, I like the Capital Weather Gang for Washington DC, and Tom Skilling for Chicago. I'm sure there are a bunch of other good sites even for those two cities. I just have personal connections to those two. I was secretary to the local AMS chapter some eons back when Skilling was the chapter president.
For a mailing list to discuss weather on, send an email with the phrase 'subscribe wx-talk' to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU Mailing lists, I'll add, are not web pages, or web sites, or chat rooms. Different thing, with different strengths.
As always, you're invited to add your own suggestions.
* 'extremely in to weather observation' as in earlier today he was comparing current local weather to 1974's, and being accurate. He also observed that when gardening recently, he was hearing crickets. That's far earlier than normal. Gardening also give a sense of how climate changes.
+ I realize that 'widget' is taking on a specialized meaning in the computer world, but I mean it in the sense that used to go under the name 'thingamajig', or 'whatsit', or 'contraption'. Just something that does a job, even if not necessarily very pretty.
Update: Steve Scolnick of the Capital Weather Gang pointed out that 1987 was only particularly hot in about 1/3rd of the US. That fraction included Chicago and DC, and then I did the usual memory thing of thinking that what was true where I was was true of the rest of the country. See https://twitter.com/#!/capital_climate/status/180104247113818114/photo/1 for a map of the summer of 1987 temperatures.