Tom Skilling

Tom Skilling, WGN-TV chief meteorologist, appears weekdays on WGN Evening News, 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, 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 weeknights 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 meteorological resources and expertise of WGN-TV, CLTV and The Chicago Tribune in one location. He has also received an immense response to his 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. That same year, Skilling took the social media world by storm when he joined both Facebook and Twitter, garnering a huge following almost immediately.

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. Open to people of all ages, the seminar was created 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. Called “a weatherman’s weatherman” by many in the field, the National Weather Service honored Tom for holding these seminars. April 2016 marked the 36th year of Skilling’s Fermilab Seminar.
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
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    Warm temps for Feb. What a week ahead!

      Updates at Chicago Weather Center

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    7-day forecast: Possible record-breaking warm weekend ahead

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    Very mild weather on the way this week

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • asktomnew

    Can you describe early 1990s Valentine’s Day weather?

    Dear Tom, When my husband and I were dating, he was at school in Champaign and I was working in Chicago. We tried to meet halfway for a Valentine’s Day dinner, but terrible weather prevented both of us from traveling-snow in Chicago and ice in Champaign. I believe that it was in the early 90s. Details? Thanks, Bonnie and Mark Dear Bonnie and Mark, It was Valentine’s Day 1990 when a major winter storm swept across the Midwest. The Chicago […]

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    Long stretch of unseasonable warmth begins

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • asktomnew

    Snowfall in the winter of 1958-59

    Dear Tom, During the winter of 1958-59, I remember delivering newspapers by bicycle through several heavy snows on the city’s Far South Side. How much snow did I pedal through? — Frank Stachyra, Oak Park Dear Frank, While snowfall in the winter of 1958-59 was about normal, producing 41 inches, it did produce some major snowfalls in December and January that delivered more than 75 percent of the season’s snowfall. The season’s first storm totaled 6.1 inches on Dec. 7-8 […]

  • asktomnew

    How high are the largest waves ever recorded on Lake Michigan?

    Dear Tom, How high are the largest waves ever recorded on Lake Michigan? Cory Milgante, Benton Harbor, Michigan Dear Cory, Waves (other than tsunamis or other non-wind produced waves) are generated by wind blowing across an expanse of water for a period of time. In general, the stronger the wind, the longer the expanse of water (fetch), and the longer the duration of the wind, the higher the waves. On the open ocean, where fetch can be several thousand miles, […]

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    Mostly mild weekend – and more

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

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    Another mild weekend ahead

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • asktomnew

    Can it snow when the temperature is below zero?

    Dear Tom, Can it snow when the temperature is below zero? Thanks, Tom Westhoff Elmhurst Dear Tom, It’s been a couple of years since we’ve addressed this frequently asked question. It won’t be heavy, but it will snow; it can never be too cold to snow. All that is necessary is water vapor in the air–and some is always present, even at very low temperatures–and a mechanism to chill the air to its saturation temperature. The Antarctic environment satisfies both […]