A busy day videotaping at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Romeoville

It’s always a lot of fun spending some time with colleagues at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in southwest suburban Romeoville. That’s just what I was able to do Tuesday. Joining us for a taping session as we prepare an upcoming report to air on our WGN News programs and which we’ll be telling you about in the weeks ahead was Meteorologist In Charge Ed Fenelon, Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jim Allsopp and Lead Forecaster Gino Izzi.  A major upgrade to the Weather Service’s Doppler Radar which will dramatically improve the radar’s ability to track storms across the area and more accurately calculate precipitation form and rainfall as well as a desire to upgrade our viewers on the severe weather warning system was behind our Romeoville office visit.

Joining us was Meteorologist in Charge Ed Fenelon, who briefed us on the revolutionary upgrade which is to be installed initially in just five National Weather Service Forecast Offices–then across the entire NWS Doppler network (the installation is to take place next September here in Chicago). Also with us was Jim Allsopp who explained the critical importance of the thousands of spotters who volunteer and scan area skies during stormy periods and Gino Izzi, who’s joined us at our Fermilab program with excellent presentations in recent years on recent severe weather outbreak and was on hand during our Tuesday visit to walk us through the devastating August 4 derecho which hit with 90 mph wind gusts and several tornadoes last summer. The fast moving squall line forced baseball fans to flee into
Wrigley Field’s lowest level to escape blinding rains for first time. We were also joined Phil Rittenhaus who told us about the amazing contribution amateur radio operators makes to the severe weather system and by longtime friend Roger Benuchi from Plainfield Emergency Services.

Plainfield, of course, was the site of the immediate Chicago area’s most recent devastating tornado which hit the southwest suburban community with deadly force the afternoon of August 28, 1990. Joining me on today’s shoot were my WGN colleagues producer Pam Grimes, who took the photos you see here and producing the upcoming piece, and ace WGN videographer Steve Scheuer.

Thanks to Ed, Gino and Jim and their colleagues at the NWS-Chicago for making us feel so welcome!
Tom Skilling


Thumbnail image for Group Shot


Beautiful Tuesday sunset

Another beautiful sunset courtesy of Kasatochi aerosols left over from the early August
eruption in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain
Mike Frankowski of South Elgin never misses out on an opportunity to share beautiful
photos with us—like this sunset Tuesday evening (9/2). Aerosols produced by the
eruption of the Kasatochi Volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands—an eruption which on
August 8 of this year sent a thick plume of ash 35,000 ft. into the atmosphere—are
acting on sunlight globally and producing especially vivid sunset over a large swath of
the planet. Our thanks to Mike for sharing this stunning sunset with us!
Tom Skilling
Photo courtesy of Mike Frankowski, South Elgin

Southern Alaska’s 2007 fall colors spectacular and at their peak; snow levels falling in region’s mountains

I’ve just returned from southern Alaska and wanted to share some photos I snapped over this weekend (October 6-7) of this year’s fall colors. Some of the images you see here were taken along the New Seward Highway which parallels the Turnagain Arm between Anchorage and Girdwood—a community 36 miles southeast of Anchorage. The region features a mix of spruce and deciduous trees. It’s the deciduous trees which change color in autumn. Given the species of trees there, fall colors feature vivid yellow and orange colors rather than the yellow, orange and red mix which occurs here in the Chicago metro area. I can tell you this year’s display, which is peaking in the area from Anchorage southward, is nothing short of spectacular.
“Termination dust”, the term used to cover the first snow cover of the cold season, is creeping down the mountains as snow levels and temperatures in the region drop. Interior and north Alaskan temperatures have fallen to single digits with increasing regularity in the past week and snow now dusts or covers the ground in much of the state’s interior. Note: Much of the Chicago area is two to three weeks from its peak autumn colors while fall colors are peaking (or in spots have just peaked) across northern Wisconsin and are on the verge of peaking in the southern third of the state.
-Tom Skilling
Photo Courtesy: Tom Skilling!