Tom Skilling, WGN-TV chief meteorologist, appears weekdays on WGN Evening News and WGN News at Nine and WGN News at Ten. He celebrated his 37th anniversary with WGN-TV in August 2015.
Starting his successful career at the unheard-of age of 14, Tom was hired by WKKD in Aurora, Illinois, 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, Wisconsin, to study meteorology and journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while continuing to work in radio and television. Tom’s first television job was at age 18 in Aurora, Illinois, at WLXT-Channel 60. Then came WKOW-TV (ABC) and WTSO radio in Madison, Wisconsin, before to going to work for WITI-TV in Milwaukee from 1975 to 1978, where he was rated the city’s number one 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, 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 his 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 several events, including World Environment Day programs at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the annual Fermilab Tornado and Severe Storms Seminar in Batavia, Illinois. April 2016 marked the 36th year of Fermilab Seminar. As host of the event, Skilling has welcomed the who’s who in the severe weather research and forecast community, including famed University of Chicago tornado researcher Dr. Ted Fujita.
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,” informing the causes and effects of lightning, 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 honors for the IBA Best Weather Show in 2004, as well as the 2003, 2004 and 2008 Silver Dome Award for Best Television Weathercast. WGN-TV also received the environmental reporting award from the Audubon Society, an accomplishment that is due to Tom’s performance. Called “a weatherman’s weatherman” by many in the field, the National Weather Service has honored Tom for holding free tornado and severe weather seminars each spring at the Fermilab National Accelerator complex in Batavia. Open to people of all ages, the seminar was created over 35 years ago to educate people about the dynamics and after effects of severe weather. Thousands of attendees gather each year to see the country’s leading experts in twisters, severe and damaging thunderstorms and lightning lead discussions at this exciting event.
Tom is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and Sigma Chi. 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. In January of 1995, Tom received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.