Tom Skilling

Tom Skilling, WGN-TV chief meteorologist, appears weekdays on WGN Evening News from 5-7pm, WGN News at Nine and WGN News at Ten. He celebrated his 38th anniversary with WGN-TV in August 2016.
Starting his successful career at the unheard-of age of 14, Tom was hired by WKKD in Aurora, IL, while attending West Aurora High School. He joined WLXT-TV three years later, while going to school during the day.

In 1970, Tom moved to Madison, WI to study meteorology and journalism at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, while continuing to work in radio and television. Tom’s first television job was at age 18 in Aurora, IL, at WLXT-Channel 60. Then come WKOW-TV (ABC affiliate) and WTSO radio in Madison, WI before going to work for WITI-TV, Milwaukee from 1975-1978, where he was rated the city’s #1 meteorologist.

Tom joined WGN-TV on August 13, 1978. Since then, he has established himself as a respected meteorologist both locally and nationally, known for his in-depth reports, enthusiasm, and use of state-of-the-art technology. For over 30 years, Skilling was chief meteorologist on WGN Midday News and now appears weekdays on WGN Evening News from 5-7pm, WGN News at Nine and WGN News at Ten.

In early 2004, Tom helped coordinate the Tribune Weather Center, which combines the meteorology resources and expertise of WGN-TV, CLTV and the Chicago Tribune in one location. The weather center includes the installation of a state-of-the-art computer graphics system that enables Tom and his team to track details of weather across Chicagoland. He has also received an immense response for WGNtv.com weather blog.

Since 1997, Skilling has been a driving force behind the Chicago Tribune’s weather page. Another element in the column is “Ask Tom Why,” in which Tom takes viewers’ questions and answers the “why” behind the weather.

In October 2008, Tom and the Weather Center started providing weather reports to WGN Radio.

Skilling continues to be active in educating the public about the critical issue of climate change and has hosted World Environment Day programs covering that subject at Chicago Botanic Garden and public screenings of the award-winning documentary “Chasing Ice,” which looks at the melting which is underway in the arctic regions of our planet. He and Nobel Prize-winning climate research scientist Dr. Don Wuebbles of the University of Illinois have hosted seminars discussing the subject of climate change for corporate planners.

This April marks his 37th year if Skilling’s Fermilab Tornado and Severe Storms Seminar. As host of the event, Skilling as welcomed the who’s who in the severe weather research and forecast community, including famed University of Chicago tornado researcher Dr. Ted Fujita. Participants in the program for the past four years have included the Director of the National Weather Service Dr. Louis Uccellini, Storm Prediction Center Director Dr. Russell Schneider, and Dr. Wuebbles, who has served as an advisor with the White House’s climate change group. The Fermilab programs have been attended by thousands over the years, and are not streamed to even larger audiences online and have been offered at no cost to all who have attended.

In addition to his work on TV, radio and in print, Tom has created many weather specials over the years, which have included: “Ten Inches of Partly Sunny,” “Chasing the Wind,” “Hurricane: The Greatest Storm on Earth,” “Alaska: Where Winters Are Really Winters,” and “A Winter Weathercast” to name a few. Tom’s award-winning tornado documentaries, “It Sounded Like a Freight Train” and “When Lightning Strikes,” were widely distributed for use in educational and public awareness efforts. He also received an Emmy nomination for his work on “Tsunamis on American Shores program,” which looked at the deadly tsunamis that have hit Alaska. Tom’s documentary work has also received praise like his Emmy award-winning “The Sears Tower Versus Mother Nature.”

He has received multiple honors including: Illinois Broadcaster Association for “Best Weather Show” and “Best Television Weathercast,” as well as Emmy Awards in the “Best Weather Anchor” category. WGN-TV also received the environmental reporting award from the Audubon Society, an accomplishment that is due to Tom’s leadership in reporting such stories.
In 2015, Tom worked with the Field Museum and the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) to hold public forums discussing the 20th anniversary of Chicago’s deadly 1995 heat wave. He held a town hall meeting at the Field Museum and innovatively live web-streamed the event. At UIC, Skilling was the leading speaker at the, “1995 Chicago Heat Wave: Then & Now,” event.

Tom still continues to help educate many people on threats that climate change has posed to the Earth and to the many different societies in the world. He participates annually in the “World Environment Day” program at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Most recently, in April 2016, Tom, along with James Hansen, Ph. D., a leading climate researcher, led a public discussion on climate change at Benedictine University.

Tom is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and Alum of the internationally known, Sigma Chi Fraternity. The American Meteorology Society (AMS) named Tom as recipient of the 1997 Award for Outstanding Service by a Broadcast Meteorologist. He serves on the AMS nominating committee and holds the AMS’s Television Seal of Approval.

Tom has received many Honorary Doctorates including an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois in 1995, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in May of 2014 and an Honorary Doctorate from Aurora University in 2015.


Recent Articles
  • Memorial Day Weekend to be warmer with some showers

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • what is the rule for figuring the distance of a lightning flash when you hear the thunder?

    Dear Tom, You have probably answered this already, but what is the rule for figuring the distance of a lightning flash when you hear the thunder? — Roger Kappelmann Dear Roger, Count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the crack of thunder and divide that number by five. The result is the distance in miles between you and the closest portion of the lightning bolt. The spark of a lightning bolt heats the air it passes […]

  • Warmer weather coming soon

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • Cool, rainy start warms for holiday weekend

  • What are the temperature extremes for New York City and Los Angeles?

    Dear Tom, What are the temperature extremes for New York City and Los Angeles? Thanks James March Chicago Dear James, In New York City, weather observations have been taken in Central Park dating back to 1868. In the 150 years of records the city’s temperature extremes span 121 degrees ranging from a high of 106 on July 9, 1936 to a low of minus 15 on February 9, 1934. In Los Angeles temperatures have been taken at a downtown location […]

  • Does air pressure decrease at higher elevations?

    Dear Tom, I recently flew from Denver to Chicago. The air pressure at Denver International Airport was 30.04 inches and about the same when I landed at Midway Airport. Shouldn’t the pressure at Denver be much lower, considering it is “the Mile High City?” — Tommy Milas, Chicago Dear Tommy, A column of air of area 1 square inch extending from sea level to the top of the atmosphere weighs about 14.7 pounds. As you ascend into the air (on […]

  • Has Chicago ever recorded the nation’s highest or lowest temperature?

    Dear Tom, Has Chicago ever recorded the nation’s highest or lowest temperature? — Jerry Pinzino, Homewood Dear Jerry, The National Weather Service compiles a daily list of the national temperature extremes, and although Chicago has come close, it has never registered the nation’s highest or lowest reading. On those days when the city’s temperatures challenge for national honors, other cities invariably register a more extreme value. On March 21, 2012, when Chicago established an unseasonable record high temperature of 87 […]

  • Cooler weekend with showers

    For more with the weather, go to WGNTV.com/weather   

  • How does Chicago’s average January sunshine compare to Seattle’s?

    Dear Tom, How does Chicago’s average January sunshine compare to Seattle’s? Thanks, Jerry Ruzicka Warrenville Dear Jerry, While Chicago’s dreariest time of the year is the November-January period, averaging 41-42 percent of possible sunshine, the Seattle area is far drearier averaging just 24 percent. In a typical Chicago January, sunshine averages 42 percent compared to just 23 percent in Seattle. This past January was extremely cloudy in Chicago with 23 percent of possible sunshine and was the city’s second lowest […]

  • 7-day forecast: Temps drop Friday, warm and rainy Saturday

    For the latest weather updates, go to wgntv.com/weather.