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
  • How many days per year does Chicago have high temperatures in 70s

    Dear Tom, How many days per year does Chicago have high temperatures in 70s, which is an absolutely perfect temperature range? — Kris Keller Dear Kris, On average, Chicago experiences 59 days per year with high temperatures in the 70s. That figure is calculated from 88 years (1929 through 2016) of daily readings at Midway Airport. Highs in the 60s occur on 47 days, in the 80s on 62 days and in the 90s on 23 days. With the exception […]

  • Spike in temps to hit later this week

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • Heat returns before the week is over

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • What were the warmest and coldest years in Chicago history?

    Dear Tom, What was the average temperature for all of 2016 and what is normal for a year in Chicago? What were the warmest and coldest years in Chicago history? Gladys, Chicago Dear Gladys, Chicago’s current average annual temperature, based on climate records from 1981-2010 is 49.9 degrees. Last year was nearly 2.5 degrees above normal, averaging 52.3 degrees. Over the 146 years of Chicago’s climate records the city’s annual temperatures have ranged from 45.1 degrees in 1875 to 54.5 […]

  • Which state would be best to view the August 11-13 meteor shower?

    Dear Tom, I would love for my wife and I to take a trip to Colorado, Washington or Oregon to view a meteor shower there Aug. 11-13. It’s impossible to make a specific forecast this far in advance, I realize, but which of those areas would have a high probability of a clear sky then? Dave Hays Dear Dave, Interior Washington is your best bet, the area in the “rain shadow” of the mountain ranges in the western portion of […]

  • How strong were the winds from the 1925 Tri-State Tornado?

    Dear Tom, How strong were the winds from the 1925 Tri-State Tornado and how much damage did it do to the towns? Kirk, Lemont Dear Kirk, The Tri-state tornado of March 18, 1925 is the deadliest single tornado on record. Other “super-tornadoes” have occurred, such as the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri tornadoes of 2011. None of these compare to the Tri-state disaster in terms of casualties (695) and path length (219 miles). Few images of the tornado exist, but […]

  • Were there any tornadoes associated with the July 4, 1977 Wisconsin derecho?

    Dear Tom, I was wondering if there were any tornadoes associated with the Wisconsin derecho on July 4, 1977. Thanks, Leif Hendrickson Madison, Wisconsin Dear Leif, On July 4, 1977, a fast-moving line of severe thunderstorm developed in west-central Minnesota about 10am and raced east-southeast across northern Wisconsin and central lower Michigan, finally weakening as it reached northwest Ohio during the early-morning hours of July 5. The storm killed one, injured 37 and damaged or destroyed more than a million […]

  • Understanding dew points and the relative humidity

    Dear Tom, Why does the WGN (and many others) web site only report the relative humidity? I tend to look at dew point. That tells me so much more. —Andy E., Chicago Dear Andy, You are spot on regarding dew point in relation to relative humidity. Dew points are routinely mentioned on TV weather broadcasts. Relative humidity defines how close the air is to saturation. Dew point temperature offers a means of determining how much water vapor is actually in […]

  • Chicago’s hot summer of 1988

    Dear Tom, With an almost endless string of brutally hot and humid days, the summer of 1988 was the worst I can recall. Has Chicago ever had a comparable three-month period? — Tom Gregg, Niles Dear Tom, The summer of 1988 leads the pack in terms of quantity of heat with the most number of 90-degree-plus days (47) and the most days of triple-digit heat (seven). However, in terms of overall temperature, its average temperature of 75.1 degrees ranks only […]

  • The hot summers of 1954, 1955 and 1956

    Dear Tom, I saw that in 1954, 1955 and 1956 a lot of summer records were made and were broken. Can you tell me more about those summer years? Thanks, Jeff Kozinski, Mokena Joseph Korn, North Chicago Dear Jeff and Joseph, The decade of the 1950s brought the Chicago area some of its hottest summers of record, landing four in the top ten warmest-1955, 1959, 1953 and 1954. The 1955 summer ranks as the city’s all-time warmest dating back to […]