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
  • Warm and humid weather returns

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • Can you provide an update on the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica?

    Dear Tom, Can you provide an update on the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica? Ruth Cano, Aurora Dear Ruth, The ozone layer, beginning 7-13 miles above the Earth’s surface, protects the surface from lethal doses of ultraviolet rays in sunlight, but it allows enough through to cause, among other things, sunburn. Chlorofluorocarbon gases (CFCs) are mainly responsible for depletion of the ozone layer, especially over the South Pole (over Antarctica) — the so-called “ozone hole.” The manufacture of […]

  • Warm and dry weekend, some clouds for eclipse

  • Does warm air in t-storms rising to 50-60,000 feet run into warmer air?

    Dear Tom, You have said that warm air in thunderstorms rising to 50-60 thousand feet eventually runs into warmer air above that level that prevents it from rising further. Isn’t air at those elevations much colder, like below freezing? Jim Moran, Grayslake Dear Jim, It is, but be aware that air temperatures normally decline 3 to 5 degrees per thousand feet of increasing altitude. This is due primarily to decreasing air pressure as one ascends. Temperatures within the rising air […]

  • 7-day forecast: Warm, humid with some showers

    For more weather, visit wgntv.com/weather

  • Discarded plastic and the impact of recycling

    Dear Tom, I have heard that discarded plastic products are getting to be a major problem worldwide. Isn’t recycling taking care of the situation? — Jason Cou, Chicago Dear Jason, It’s true: Plastic is proliferating. And the problem (yes, it’s a problem) is getting worse. Recycling rates remain low, especially in the United States. Only 9 percent of plastic is recycled in the United States, and this compares unfavorably with China (25 percent of plastic is recycled there) and Europe […]

  • 7-day forecast: Warm, cloudy and humid

    For more weather visit: wgntv.com/weather 

  • How are the Chicago Lake Michigan water temperatures taken?

    Dear Tom, How are the Chicago Lake Michigan water temperatures taken? Thanks, Paulette Lisek Dear Paulette, The Chicago area shore water temperature has been taken at the James W. Jardine Water Purification Plant near Navy Pier from a sensor 15 feet below the surface since 1965. A water temperature is also taken from a sensor near a water intake pipe at the Harrison-Dever Crib located about two miles offshore east of Navy Pier. The U.S. Coast Guard also provides shoreline […]

  • How big is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

    Dear Tom, I have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the north Pacific Ocean. How big is it? Are there any plans to clean it up? — Thomas, Chicago Dear Thomas, The name is misleading because it conveys an image of floating junk in the north Pacific. This is not the case. The patch consists mainly of tiny pieces of plastic practically invisible to the naked eye and mainly below the surface of the ocean; it does not […]

  • Will there be a new moon when we have the solar eclipse?

    Dear Tom, Will there be a new moon when we have the solar eclipse? —Charles Arp, Brookfield Dear Charles, Yes, there will. A solar eclipse occurs when the new moon moves between the sun and the earth and the moon blocks out the solar rays, casting a shadow on portions of Earth. According to NASA, solar eclipses occur only if the moon is within 0.5 degrees of the plane of the ecliptic, a line passing through the center of the […]