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
  • What were the lessons we learned from the Oak Lawn Tornado of 1967?

    Dear Tom, What were the lessons we learned from the Oak Lawn Tornado of 1967? Thanks, Jeffrey Kozinski Mokena Dear Jeffrey, Severe weather forecasting techniques, warnings, and storm detection have grown by leaps and bound since 1967, but in spite of the era’s limitations, the deadly F4 twister, that killed 33 and injured 500 was preceded by a tornado watch and warnings were issued. The storm, undoubtedly increased public awareness that tornadoes do strike in highly populated areas and that […]

  • ‘I felt lucky to be alive:’ Survivors of the Belvidere and Oak Lawn tornado outbreak tell their stories – 50 years later

    A half century ago, 58 people died in northern Illinois in a ten tornado tirade that could not have hit at a worse time. WGN-TV’s Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling had a chance to speak with survivors of the Belvidere tornado, many who were children when a twister hit Belvidere High School. Tom says never in his life has he had the opportunity to talk to a group of people who came so close to death and lived to tell about […]

  • What is the story with global warming? Is it occurring or not?

    Dear Tom, What is the story with global warming? Is it occurring or not? — StephaniamMcWillmotte Dear Stephania, The overwhelming consensus of experts in a wide range of fields in the earth sciences, and biological and environmental fields as well, is that global warming is a reality — a reality supported by direct observation and direct measurement. Here are some obvious examples: averaged across the Earth’s surface, glaciers are in retreat; icecaps are thinning; the sea level is rising (which […]

  • Rollercoaster temps continue

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • What is the date of Chicago’s latest spring measurable snowfall?

    Dear Tom,  What is the date of Chicago’s latest spring measurable snowfall? —Melanie Adams, PAC South Crew Search Inc. Dear Melanie, The date is May 11, 1966, when the Chicago area officially recorded 0.2 inches of snowfall at Midway Airport. The snow fell in the opening stages of a wet, windy spring storm that eventually brought more than 3 inches of heavy, flooding rains to the Chicago area, forcing scores of people out of their homes. The snow was heaviest north […]

  • Was there a warm Easter between the March and April 1970 snowstorms?

    Dear Tom, I was reading about the big snowstorms in March and April of 1970. I also remember a glorious 70-degree March 29 Easter between those storms and driving to church with the car windows rolled down. — Debbie Goddard Dear Debbie, The week-apart snowstorms in late March and early April of 1970 provided the city its largest late-season snow blitz. The March 25-26 storm produced 14.3 inches, and the April 1-2 one delivered 10.7 inches. Both storms produced thundersnow […]

  • Mid-week storms bring in cooler weather

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • Warm weather won’t last long

    Updates at Chicago Weather Center

  • Have we ever gone through an April without a freezing temperature?

    Dear Tom, Have we ever gone through an April without a freezing temperature? Thanks, Rich Kruse Batavia Dear Rich, We have, but it’s quite rare. Chicago climatologist Frank Wachowski scanned the record books and found that since 1871 there have been just seven Aprils where the temperature did not drop to 32 degrees, the last one occurring in 1955. Wachowski noted that the city’s earliest last freeze was in 1925 when the mercury dropped to 28 degrees on March 19 […]

  • How many Easters were so warm so that we didn’t have to wear coats?

    Dear Tom, How many Easters were so warm so that we didn’t have to wear coats? Thanks, Mari Schirmer Naperville Dear Maggie, Easter can occur as early As March 22 and as late as April 25, spanning a period when Chicago’s average high temperature climbs from 49 to 63. Picking 70 degrees as temperature where coats can be shed, the city has logged 21 Easters, including this year, that fit the bill. The city’s warmest was very summery when the […]