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 came 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 now 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
  • Chilly temps, partly cloudy; Mild weekend temps

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  • How can it snow when temps are in the 40s?

    Dear Tom, On Monday afternoon, it was snowing with temperatures well into the 40s. How can it snow when it’s that warm? — Gwen Biasi, Mount Prospect, and Ken Shilt, LaPorte, Ind. Dear Gwen and Ken, Temperatures must be 32 degrees or lower in the clouds where snowflakes form, but because the flakes can fall more than 1,000 feet without melting, they can reach the ground with surface readings well above freezing. As it did Monday, snow has fallen in […]

  • Cloudy skies, breezy and chilly

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  • Is there any state where it has never snowed?

    Dear Tom, Is there any state where it has never snowed? Thanks, Jean, Lombard Dear Jean, There is not. Obviously, snowfall is a given in all of the northern states and the nation’s southern states also get snow, at least in mountainous terrains. Snow falls in 49 of the 50 states in most winters; Florida being the lone exception. Northern portions of Florida, especially in the panhandle, experience some flurries during most, but not all winters. Snow flurries have even […]

  • Is the Yellowstone Caldera active right now?

    Dear Tom, Is the Yellowstone Caldera active right now? — Eileen Meyering, Oak Lawn Dear Eileen, The Yellowstone Caldera (located primarily in northwest Wyoming) is a massive depression in the Earth’s surface, 34 by 45 miles across, formed when the huge magma chamber beneath the Yellowstone volcano emptied during its last major eruption about 640,000 years ago and the surface collapsed into the evacuated chamber. Geysers and other thermal features of Yellowstone National Park offer proof that the volcano (actually, […]

  • I saw palm trees growing in southwestern England when I visited there. That area is not considered tropical, is it?

    Dear Tom, I saw palm trees growing in southwestern England when I visited there. That area is not considered tropical, is it? — William Steers Dear William, England’s weather is considered to be “maritime” rather than “tropical.” The tropics is confined to the area between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, 23 degrees either side of the equator. England, on the other hand, sits above 50 degrees north latitude, as far north as Canada. That’s not tropical! The warming influence […]

  • Cooler weekend but warm up comes late next week

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  • When was the last time Chicago had 80 degrees?

    Dear Tom, Several days ago my hometown, St. Louis, had an 80-degree day. When was the last time Chicago had 80 degrees? Chuck Kennell Dear Chuck, The most recent 80-degree day in Chicago was a temperature of 81 on Oct. 9, 2017, at O’Hare International Airport, and Midway Airport registered 82 degrees on that same day. However, Midway also recorded 80 degrees on Oct. 20 (but O’Hare, which is Chicago’s official weather station, was only 78 degrees then). On average, […]

  • Cool pattern locked in through Tuesday; new storm to spin up over Plains this weekend; its expansive wind field impacts Chicago Sunday despite far southerly track; strong warming/60s later next week

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  • Bombogenesis: Low pressure’s explosive intensification

    Dear Tom, Last week, WGN-TV meteorologist Demetrius Ivory stated that during the big nor’easter, the storm’s central barometric pressure dropped 24 millibars in 24 hours. Is that supposed to mean something to your typical viewers? — Richard Derr Dear Richard, The message Mr. Ivory was conveying to viewers was that this storm was going to be significant and dangerous. When low pressure undergoes explosive intensification and the central pressure drops at the rate of at least one millibar an hour […]