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 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
  • Tom Skilling previews the August 21st total eclipse

    In less than two weeks, the United States will see a rare sky show that hasn’t happened in the *Chicago area since before Chicago existed.  The good news is, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible within a day’s drive of Chicago. WGN-TV’s Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling previews what’s happening on Monday, August 21, 2017. WGN’s eclipse coverage from the Carbondale area will begin Sunday, August 20th on the 5:00 PM News, through “live” coverage of the total […]

  • 7-Day Forecast: Sunny weekend, 80`s possible next week

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  • Was there a solar eclipse in Chicago around 1936?

    Dear Tom, As a child I remember much notoriety about a forthcoming solar eclipse in Chicago. It was probably around 1936. Am I remembering correctly? Thanks, Bill McNichols Oak Park Dear Bill, Time has not eclipsed your memory. The partial solar eclipse that you recall occurred on February 3, 1935. In Chicago, the entire eclipse lasted for 2 hours and 14 minutes, reaching a maximum solar obscuration of 55 percent at 10:12 am. The eclipse was visible, in varying degrees, […]

  • Warm and pleasant with possible storms later

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  • If the amount of water on Earth is constant, why do oceans rise?

    Dear Tom, You have said the Earth is a closed system in which the amount of water is constant. So where do we get the extra water to make the oceans rise? — Roger Anderson, Winthrop Harbor Dear Roger, The amount of water on the Earth is constant, or nearly so. Actually, the amount is increasing ever so slightly due to volcanic eruptions expelling water vapor into the atmosphere, but, for all practical purposes, the amount of water (as a […]

  • Are “chemtrails” for real?

    Dear Tom, Are “chemtrails” for real? — Albert O’Mell, Deerfield Dear Albert, There is no such thing as “chemtrails,” and the rumors about chemicals intentionally being sprayed into the atmosphere from the exhaust of high-flying jet aircraft are persistent but false. Water vapor is one of the byproduct gases resulting from the combustion of jet fuel in aircraft engines. Temperatures at jet flight levels (about 30,000-40,000 feet aloft) are usually in the range of 30 below to 70 below zero, […]

  • Temps in 80s, showers arrive late Thursday

  • Skies clearing, temps in 80s starting Tuesday

    CHICAGO — For the latest weather updates head to  

  • Will global warming raise water levels in Lake Michigan?

    Dear Tom, Will global warming raise water levels in Lake Michigan like it will in the oceans? — Mick Bulakowski, Palatine Dear Mick, No. The level of Lake Michigan will not increase because the lake is not a final repository of water. Water enters Lake Michigan from rivers, precipitation, movement of groundwater and condensation onto the lake surface from the air (mainly in the summer). It exits the Lake Michigan/Huron system through the St. Clair River. (Lakes Michigan and Huron […]

  • Tropical air to stay out of area much of week

    Northwesterly  flow aloft will help keep temperatures and humidity levels comfortable for the next several days. Readings are expected to peak in the upper 70s and low 80s through Friday, slightly lower than the normal high of 83 degrees. Daytime heating will be limited through Monday, not only by buckled jet stream winds, but by cloud cover. Low pressure passing south of the area will keep skies mostly cloudy both Sunday and Monday. High pressure is to build across the […]