Tom Skilling Biography
Tom Skilling (Full name- Thomas Ethelbert Skilling, III) is a meteorologist in Chicago, Illinois, who was born on February 20, 1952, in Aurora, Illinois, United States. On-air, he is known as simply Tom Skilling. He is the chief meteorologist for the weekday 5, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts, on channel, 9 WGN-TV.
Concerning his education, Skilling joined West Aurora High School and later completed his course in meteorology and journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.
Tom Skilling Weather
Skilling started his broadcasting career at age 14, while still attending school at West Aurora High School, working for WKKD-AM & FM . He began working in Aurora, Illinois, at WLXT-TV (Ch. 60). He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison to study meteorology and journalism and while there, he worked at WKOW-TV and WTSO AM in Madison, Wisconsin. He worked as a meteorologist at WITI in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from 1975 to 1978.
Tom Skilling Wgn
After leaving WITI in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Skilling relocated to Chicago and began working for WGN-TV Channel 9 on August 13, 1978. He is rumored to be the highest paid local broadcast meteorologist in the United States and is currently WGN’s chief meteorologist. Skilling also writes the daily weather column in the Chicago Tribune with his weather broadcasts always featuring the latest technology in computer imagery and animation techniques.
Skilling correctly predicted the Groundhog Day blizzard almost two weeks before it paralyzed the Chicago area and has long been hailed for his in-depth reports and striking accuracy. Bob Collins, Tom Skilling’s late WGN colleague used to call him “Skillful”. Skilling was consulted for the movie The Weather Man, which was set in Skilling’s hometown of Chicago at a fictionalized version of WGN. Until 2022, Skilling is under contract at WGN.
Tom Skilling Salary | Net Worth
Tom Skilling is estimated to have a net worth of $14 million, as of November 2018. Skilling has kept most of his property details undisclosed despite his enormous net worth. He is considered as one of the richest meteorologists with an undisclosed salary that is rumored to be a 7-digit figure of annual income.
Tom Skilling Wife
Tom Skilling has no wife in his life and has never been married. No information about his past relationship and dating history has been recorded. There was confusion about Skilling’s sexual orientation with rumors spreading that he was gay. However, Skilling, who keeps his personal life very private, does not seem bothered by the rumors.
Tom Skilling Age
Born on February 20, 1952, in Aurora, Illinois, U.S., Skilling is a veteran meteorologist who hailed for his in-depth reports and striking accuracy. Currently, He is the chief meteorologist for WGN-TV and is 67 years old as of 2019.
Tom Skilling Brother | Family
Skilling was born to Betty (néeClarke) and Thomas Ethelbert Skilling, Jr. as the first of four children. His father was a sales manager for an Illinois valve company. His Younger brother is discredited former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling.
Jeff Skilling was convicted and initially sentenced to 24 years in prison for conspiracy, insider trading, making false statements to auditors and securities fraud. Jeff Skilling began his sentence on December 13, 2006 until 2018, housed at the Montgomery Federal Prison Camp, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama.
However, on Friday, 21 June 2013, a federal judge approved a deal resentencing Skilling to 14 years, minus the time of six years which he had already served. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Jeff Skilling was scheduled for release on February 21, 2019 but was released from prison and sent to a halfway house in Texas to serve out his prison sentence on August 30, 2018 Skilling.
Tom Skilling Weather App
Chicago turns to WGN-TV chief meteorologist Tom Skilling and his team to understand the weather when in doubt,. With the Chicago Weather Center app, you will have the latest forecasts and reports on current conditions from Chicago’s superman of meteorology with you wherever you go. The app can be downloaded on Google Play Store.
Tom Skilling Twitter
Tom Skilling Interview
Did you always have a particular interest in weather?
Tom Skilling: My love of the weather dates back as far as I can remember. Some in my profession point to a particular weather event as having driven their interest in the field. For me, it’s always been the realization that weather impacts all of our lives and everything we do — even the way we feel — combined with a real curiosity in understanding how nature puts the weather together.
You got your first broadcast job as a 14-year-old freshman in high school at an Aurora radio station and then your first TV job three years later. How did you get hired at such a young age?
TS: When I lived in New Jersey, prior to moving to Aurora, I received a government weather map publication which was printed and mailed to subscribers from Washington, DC each day. It arrived the day after it was printed, so the weather maps on it were relatively current. We had no Internet in those days, so this publication was my link to understanding what was going on with the weather. I was disappointed after moving to find that the publication arrived here about four days later. Thinking a radio station could do anything, I wrote an eight-page letter to WKKD in Aurora asking if they’d get me some current weather maps and proposing that I’d do a weather forecast for the Aurora area to compensate them for doing this. I look back at that now and am kind of embarrassed at the audacity of making such an offer. But the program director at WKKD called my home and he ended up taking me to the then “U.S. Weather Bureau” forecast office (the agency hadn’t been renamed the National Weather Service at that point) located at the University of Chicago. We met with the folks there and told them we’d provided stamped envelopes and pay for reproducing the maps if they would send them to us each day. I will never forget them saying they would do it. It was one of the happiest days of my young life. Crazy isn’t it — to get so excited over weather maps? But looking back on my life, I realize this was one of the days which launched my career in broadcast meteorology. I’d call the radio station each day before and after high school with my weather forecasts which were recorded and used during the day.
After college and a couple of brief stints at other stations, you made the move to Chicago and WGN. What was that like, joining one of the biggest
independent stations in the country?
TS: It was at once awesome and more than a bit intimidating and frightening. I had received a call from WGN expressing interest in me and offering me a chance to do what amounted to a weekend on-air audition. They said if the weekend appearances worked out, I might be offered the job. I was not sure I was ready, but John Coleman told me that I should “go for it.” He said they wouldn’t have come to me if they had thought I wasn’t ready. To my unending relief, I was offered the job. I was thrilled to be back close to my family and there are no words to describe how excited I was. But I knew I had to prove myself, so I crossed my fingers and hoped the new assignment at this phenomenal station with its storied history would work out. Thankfully it has and has been an absolute joy!
Now in your 37th year, you are the clear “dean” of Chicago broadcasting. To what do you attribute your longevity and looking back, what are you most proud of career-wise?
TS: Wow, 37 years! I hadn’t thought of myself as the dean of Chicago broadcasting. I’ve been a survivor and have been too busy doing my work to think a great deal about the span of time which has passed. Every moment has been a challenge and a joy. I pinch myself at the thought it’s actually been 37 years. All I can tell you is it takes a certain degree of luck, wonderful bosses and a good deal of hard work for this to have occurred. It’s been an absolute joy working in the meteorological profession during a period of revolutionary change, the likes of which has never occurred
before in all the years in this field leading up to this time. My career straddles a period in which weather satellites have come onto the scene, computing power has exploded — allowing numerical weather forecasts to advance to the point where we are really able to see how nature is putting our weather together — and, most importantly, we have visual and graphic tools to present the weather as never before. I’m proudest of being the first here to use computer graphics on my programs in ways no one ever had before to communicate the weather story on a nightly basis. We were years ahead of our competitors on this. Our Chicago Tribune weather page is like nothing done in the print world in this country on a daily basis today — I’m really proud of that.
Our changing climate — and it IS changing, and rapidly on a global basis — is a subject in which I’ve become quite interested and about which my own thoughts have evolved and changed over the years. I’ve been able to talk and produce forums for discussion with experts in the field about climate change. We recently held a public screening of the award-winning documentary “Chasing Ice” at the Museum of Science and Industry. That was a thrill.
You seem busier now than ever, doing multiple TV and radio broadcasts each day plus the weather segment in the Tribune and periodic TV specials. How do you maintain the upbeat and positive attitude you have become known for?
TS: The schedule is demanding and I confess to being tired at the end of my work week. But who doesn’t feel that way? Fortunately, I work with a team at WGN and we love our work and I love the people with whom I work at every level. Equipment failures and computer glitches can drive me crazy, but I suspect this is something everyone deals with. Beyond that, I’ve had a chance to do things in my career I could have only dreamed of doing. I don’t think anyone can ask for more than that.
If the weather people work with the same basic information provided by the national weather service, why do forecasts differ?
TS: Why can diagnoses of illness vary from one doctor to another? Why does one auto mechanic vary in his/her handling of a car problem from the way another mechanic might approach the problem? Why does one computer forecast model produce a different forecast from another? It has to do with the manner in which a mountain of useful data is integrated into a final product. This can be driven by the forecaster’s level of experience in forecasting a particular weather situation and their time on the job.
One learns over time from mistakes or misinterpretations of past weather situations. And the truth is, multiple scientifically valid conclusions on how the weather may play out can apply in any given weather situation.
So walk us through a typical day and how you come up with your forecast.
My forecast preparation process starts at 8:30 each morning in my home office and runs to the point I head into the office at 1 p.m. I bring down data from as many as 42 different model forecasts, then average them and apply a “bias correction” I’ve calculated. This involves analyzing the errors which have occurred in the same set of 42 model forecasts over the most recent two weeks and correcting the latest forecasts by removing those biases. Not everyone does this because it’s a long and laborious process. And even that isn’t the end of the forecasting process. I then look for analogs — similar meteorological situations from the past which parallel the upcoming situations. I head into my afternoon and evening broadcasts knowing I’ve done as thorough a job looking over upcoming weather prospects as humanly possible, yet well aware nature is completely capable of humbling me.
Can you really predict the weather a week in advance with any real degree of accuracy?
TS: At that point in time, predictions of specifics aren’t attempted, but useful trends can be identified with uncanny accuracy. I can’t begin to recount the number of times my colleagues and I have predicted hot or cold spells or a storm system a week or more in advance. Unfortunately, there’s a tendency by many to remember the last bad forecast and to extrapolate that failure to daily
forecasts in general. That in turn leads to the line we hear all too often — “What a job you guys have! You can be wrong every day and still keep your job!” If I was wrong every day, or even NEARLY every day, I’d be fired faster than you can say, “What happened to him?” The fact is, forecasts today are better than any produced in history. Studies have verified we have the same accuracy at Day 5 today as we had at Day 2 in the late 1960s. Predictions of tomorrow’s temperature are accurate to within three degrees nearly 95% of the time and nearly 90% of the time the following day.
Why are the risks for severe storms and tornados so much higher in the spring?
TS: Spring is particularly active because the spread in temperatures across a storm system can be so great this time of year. Leftover cold air can flow southward of the remaining
snow pack of winter, while lengthening days and the warm, moist tropical air is able to surge farther and farther north. Juxta-positioning this cold and warm air strengthens jet streams produces tremendous low level convergence, and fuels storm systems with the latent heat energy imported into the region with the northbound tropical air. Longer days and greater heating also increases “instability.” All contribute to severe thunderstorm and tornado development.
What are your fondest memories growing up in Aurora?
TS: I remember caddying at Aurora Country Club with a group of friends in the springs and summers. We weren’t members and I’m not a golfer, which is surprising given my father’s wonderful proficiency at golf. But I remember loving the grilled hamburgers we could buy there as caddies for as little as 25-cents each. While in high school at West Aurora, I participated in speech contests run by the National Forensic League in which we would compete with fellow students from high schools across the area and the state. We’d wind up down in Bloomington at the state finals at the end of each season of competition. I won the statewide “radio speaking” competition several years, which was quite a thrill.
Do you get back to the Aurora area much?
TS: I was invited to speak and was presented with an honorary doctorate at Aurora College’s Commencement last spring, an incredible honor and a wonderful chance to return to my home of so many years. In my parents’ final years, I visited the area frequently. My parents lived for many years in Prestbury after moving from their home on the west side of Aurora. They then moved to the Holmstad in Batavia, after my father suffered a stroke. My mother dealt with spinal stenosis, but she was able to get up and around, so I would travel out to Batavia each weekend and we’d go for long rides out into the country. We’d stop on each of those trips at the IHOP on Orchard Road where my mother loved her bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and I’d have a Caesar’s salad and some chicken soup. We had such fun.