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 celebrates his 40th anniversary with WGN-TV in August 2018.

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 Wisconsin-Madison, 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 on to 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 as well as later newscasts. Tom Skilling has been awarded with three honorary doctorates from Lewis University, St. Mary’s of Minnesota and Aurora University.
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. 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. He has also received an immense response for WGNtv.com weather blog.

Over the past 38 years, Tom Skilling hosted a Tornado and Severe Storms Seminar at Fermilab. As host of the event, Skilling welcomed the ‘who’s who’ in the severe weather research and forecast community, including famed University of Chicago tornado researcher Dr. Ted Fujita. The Fermilab programs have been attended by thousands over the years and have been streamed to even larger audiences online.

This year, Tom is speaking at numerous events throughout the Chicagoland area discussing climate change. So far this year he has hosted a talk to 200 area science teachers in Downers Grove, participated in a climate conference in Naperville, headed out to Palatine to address an Energy Expo sponsored by the Sierra Club, and has worked with the Mayor’s office several times. He emceed a conference of local mayors from across the Chicagoland community who are addressing climate change, as well as an awards event for mayors recognizing environment efforts in member cities (mayors and their representatives for the world’s 40 biggest cities which included the mayors of Paris and Mexico City and the Deputy Mayors of New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC). Finally, this June, Tom will be awarded the Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA) as their “2018 Broadcast Pioneer” honoree. From recording a podcast with Mayor Emmanuel about climate change to emceeing several events, Tom has maintained a very busy schedule.

Friend Tom on Facebook at facebook.com/tomskilling


Recent Articles
  • Why are tornadoes rare in Europe?

    Dear Tom, The weather in central Europe is comparable to what we get here in the Midwest, but we never hear about tornadoes there. Allen James, Chicago Dear Allen, Although the climates of central Europe and the Midwest are similar in many ways, tornadoes are rare events there. Nowhere else on Earth do the forces that cause severe weather come together to the extent they do in the central U.S. With tropical moisture to the south, cold air to the […]

  • Can the relative humidity ever be zero percent?

    Dear Tom Can the relative humidity ever be zero percent? I say yes, but my girl friend says no. Who is right? Jerold Crissman, Omaha, Nebraska Dear Jerold, The concept of zero percent relative humidity — air completely devoid of water vapor — is intriguing, but given Earth’s climate and weather conditions, it’s an impossibility. Water vapor is always present in the air, even if only in trace amounts. Practically all of Earth’s surface contributes water vapor to the atmosphere. […]

  • What are “official” weather records?

    Dear Tom, You often refer to official weather records and unofficial weather records. What is the difference? Kelley Nemathis, Bolingbrook Dear Kelley, “Official” weather observations refer to the weather data that are used to assemble a city’s climatological normals, averages and extremes. “Official” should not be interpreted to imply that other (non-official) weather observations are less accurate or less reliable. O’Hare International Airport became the official weather observation site for the city of Chicago on Jan. 17, 1980. Prior to […]

  • Does a hurricane draw up a large amount of salt water from the ocean?

    Dear Tom, Does a hurricane draw up a large amount of salt water from the ocean? Robbie Gallton, Chicago Dear Robbie, Salt comes out of solution and remains behind in the ocean when sea water evaporates. However, a hurricane’s extreme winds can blow salt spray off the ocean surface inland. In southern Florida, many people miles inland experienced rust problems with vehicles in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Salt spray, even without a hurricane, creates rust problems. The […]

  • When is the average date of the first freeze in Chicago?

    Dear Tom, When is the average date of the first freeze in Chicago? Bill Creshant, Palatine Dear Bill, The first freeze, 32 degrees or lower, usually occurs across Chicagoland in October, but that date varies considerably depending on the location. A large metropolitan area, like the Chicago area, is a “heat island,” meaning temperatures within the core of the city are usually higher than in surrounding areas. Across metropolitan Chicago, the urban heat island effect results in a range of […]

  • Why does it always seem to be windier during the day than at night?

    Dear Tom,| Why does it always seem to be windier during the day than at night? James Skroll, Des Moines, Iowa Dear James, Much of the tendency for it to be windier during daylight hours is driven by sunlight and solar heating. The sun unevenly heats the Earth’s surface which, in turn, imparts uneven warmth to the air immediately above it. For example, a plowed corn field heats far more aggressively than does a highly reflective snow-covered field nearby. The […]

  • How often does Alabama record triple-digit heat and the nation’s highest temp?

    Dear Tom, In recent days Alabama has recorded triple-digit heat and the nation’s highest temperature. How often does this happen? Thanks, Frank VanderPloeg Dear Frank, The answer is almost never! Unprecedented, record-breaking heat has gripped much of the South in October’s opening days, shattering hundreds of high-temperature records. Alabama cities have led the nation with triple-digit highs from October 1-5, with the highest reading of 105 at Vaiden on October 2. Alabama seldom achieves the nation’s highest temperature, since the […]

  • Rainfall trends in Chicago

    Dear Tom, Last year was one of the wettest years on record in Chicago. Are we trending to hit or exceed that record this year? Mike Parenti,  Palatine Dear Mike, Chicago’s precipitation has been trending heavier in recent years. Chicago climatologist Frank Wachowski checked annual precipitation totals back to 1871 and found that four of the city’s 10 wettest years have occurred since 2001. The all-time wettest year was 2008, when precipitation totaled 50.86 inches, followed by 2011 with 49.83 […]

  • Did the lowest official temperature in Chicago this September of 53 degrees set a record?

    Dear Tom The lowest official temperature in Chicago this September was 53 degrees. Did that set a record? Thanks, Pat Byrne Hoffman Estates, Alexander Zazi Chicago Dear Pat and Alexander, This September’s low of just 53 degrees, recorded early in the evening on the 28th, just missed establishing a record for the month’s lack of chill. The city’s warmest minimum for any September was 55 degrees on September 30, 1906, edging out runner-up 1925’s lowest of 54 reached on both […]

  • Why does wet skin feel chilly?

    Dear Tom, Why does wet skin feel chilly? Lynn Malfort, Chicago Dear Lynn, It is a characteristic of every substance that the molecules of which the substance is composed vibrate. What we call “temperature” is actually a measure of the average vibrational energy contained by the molecules of the substance. We perceive the molecular vibration as the sensation of heat. When a liquid (like water) is heated, its molecules vibrate more rapidly and its temperature rises. But the vibrational motion […]

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