EDGEWATER — From his condo in the Malibu East high-rise in Edgewater, meteorologist Tom Skilling has spectacular panoramic views of the city, sky and lake.
The award-winning forecaster for WGN has lived in his Far North Side home since first moving to Chicago in 1978 and recently was awarded the "Pride of Edgewater" award from the neighborhood's Chamber of Commerce.
For a weather forecaster, the neighborhood is a "dream location," he said.
"The fascinating thing about living in Edgewater is you get to see the whole range of weather here as nowhere else," Skilling said. "I love to watch the state of the lake change. As a meteorologist, it's a dream location because you can sit here and watch the vagaries of Chicago weather unfold before you in a way you can't in many other places."
In the mornings, he runs a tight ship, analyzing weather reports and going over pictures sent by viewers before making his way to his office at WGN's Bradley Place studio in North Center.
When he's not poring over data or in the newsroom, Skilling said he's an average (albeit famous) member of the community — doing chores, taking his two small dogs to the beach and relaxing at his favorite local spots.
Lickity Split Frozen Custard, Indie Cafe, Loyola University's lakefront campus and the tropical-like Waterfront Cafe all make Skilling's list of favorites.
Even the Whole Foods on Broadway, where he's sometimes recognized, has become a treasured errand spot.
Views of Chicago weather from Skilling's home office. [Facebook/Tom Skilling]
When people do run into him, Skilling said he doesn't mind talking about the weather.
"I've always felt that the weather person occupies kind of a special place in the media world. We're talking about the one subject that has some bearing on everyone at some time or another," Skilling said.
Skilling said he's "never" had people disgruntled about the weather take their frustrations out on him.
"I have never had any trouble. People have been wonderful," he said.
In fact, he finds it strange if people spark up a conversation and don't bring up the weather, he said.
"Frankly, if they didn't, I think I'd be a little bit concerned because you think, 'Wow is anybody watching the program?'" he said with a laugh. "So I always get reassured."
The weather is a "great conversation starter" that nearly everyone can discuss, he said.
And if you see him in line at the grocery store, don't feel bad about asking a question.
"I never tire of talking about the weather," he assured. "It's funny because some people say, 'I'm sorry to ask you about this, you're probably flooded with questions about this,' and I say to them, and I honestly mean it, 'Please, I'm not bored talking about it.'"
Facebook/Edgewater 5K Run/Walk
Since boyhood, Skilling has been fascinated by weather and the way it touches virtually every facet of life: from how people feel, to how they dress, travel, work and more, he said.
As he got older, his parents encouraged him to follow the passion and helped him gain as much exposure to the topic as possible.
Looking back over his career, Skilling said he's been there to cover it all when it came to local weather: the Groundhog Day blizzard of 2011, a tornado at Loyola and the 1995 deadly heat wave, to name a few.
These days, his attention is mostly focused on the science behind climate change, an important topic of study he doesn't want to see fall by the wayside, he said.
Even in Chicago, Skilling said the effects of climate change are present, such as an increase in flooding seen in recent years.
For the Far North Side resident and weather forecaster, a simple step out onto the balcony provides a full-time portrait of the city's changing weather — a view near and dear to his heart.
"For the last 40 years I've had a front row seat right here in Edgewater, and it's been very fun, very interesting," Skilling said.
Tom Skilling at a local Edgewater community event [Facebook/Orange Shoe Fitness]