Best weather communicator on the planet
16 responses | 1 like
Started by metmike - Nov. 10, 2022, 5:15 p.m.

Tom Skilling on WGN-Chicago was my favorite for 2 decades but Eric Snodgrass takes it to another level with new technology and unlimited time to show US and  global weather, while explaining it and providing great links.

Meet Eric Snodgrass, Nutrien’s weather wizard

Published: Jan 27, 2022


For many people, weather is the ultimate small-talk topic. But for the farmers who feed the world, weather is huge – it can be the difference between a bumper crop and a total loss – so weather talk is anything but small. And Eric Snodgrass, Nutrien’s Principal Atmospheric Scientist – is proud to be an important voice in that conversation.

“I’ve been in atmospheric sciences for about 20 years now, and along the way I’ve developed a reputation of being able to explain weather in a way that makes it digestible and actionable,” Eric explains. “I wake up very early every day – and most mornings I don't even need an alarm clock – because it's engaging to look at a new pattern and try to figure out where it's going, and to share that prediction with the people who need it the most.”


"I picked right"

By metmike - Nov. 10, 2022, 5:20 p.m.
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Tom Skilling

Tom Skilling
Skilling-final-shot1.webpSkilling's WGN News Chicago professional headshot
BornThomas Ethelbert Skilling III
February 20, 1952 (age 70)
Aurora, Illinois, U.S.
Years active1966–present
Notable credit(s)WGN-TV, WITI
FamilyJeffrey Skilling (brother)

Thomas Ethelbert Skilling III (born February 20, 1952), known on-air as Tom Skilling, is an American television meteorologist. Since 1978, he has worked as a meteorologist at WGN-TV in Chicago.[1]


The oldest of four children, Tom Skilling was born in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois, where he attended West Aurora High School. While in high school Tom began his career in broadcasting at age 14, working for WKKD and WKKD-FM.[2] Skilling observed that WKKD's forecasts were  inaccurate because they were for Chicago and not Aurora, so he approached WKKD and offered to forecast the weather for several days, with the condition that if his forecasts were accurate he would be hired to host his own weather program.[3] Skilling's forecasts were accurate, and he was hired to forecast Aurora's weather three times a day.[3] At age 18, he began working at WLXT-TV in Aurora.[2]

Skilling attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison to study meteorology and journalism. While attending the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he worked at WKOW-TV and WTSO radio, both in Madison.[2] In 1975 Skilling took his first major-market television position, becoming the lead forecaster at WITI-TV in Milwaukee.[2] At WITI, he delivered his forecasts with the "help" of the station's resident sock puppet mascot, Albert the Alley Cat.[4]


Skilling returned to the Chicago area and joined WGN-TV on August 13, 1978.[2] He is currently WGN-TV's chief meteorologist and is rumored to be the highest-paid local broadcast meteorologist in the United States.[5] He also writes the daily weather column for the Chicago Tribune. That feature, Ask Tom, ceased in August 2022 with a redesign of the weather page.[6]

His weather broadcasts have always featured the latest technology in computer imagery and animation techniques. He has long been hailed for his in-depth reports and striking accuracy, perhaps best highlighted by his correctly predicting the Groundhog Day blizzard in 2011 almost two weeks before it paralyzed the Chicago area. "Skillful", as his late WGN-TV colleague Bob Collins called him, was consulted for the movie The Weather Man, which was set in Skilling's hometown of Chicago at a fictionalized version of WGN-TV.

Skilling is under contract at WGN until 2022.[7]

He also narrated the documentaries It Sounded Like a Freight Train and When Lightning Strikes for the station, about the science and dangers of tornadoes (the documentary also includes the Chicago area's history of tornadoes) and lightning.

AMS and Fermilab

Skilling is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. He hosts annual tornado and severe weather seminars at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois. 2013 marked the 32nd year of the seminar and the first that featured presentations specifically on climate change.[8][9]

Awards and honors

In January 1995, Tom received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.[10]

Asteroid 91888 Tomskilling, discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey in 1999, was named in his honor.[1] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on October 8, 2014 (M.P.C. 90379).[11]

Personal life

Tom is the older brother of Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive officer of Enron Corporation.[12]

By metmike - Nov. 10, 2022, 5:22 p.m.
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Who else knows these meteorologists/atmospheric scientists?

Who's you favorite.


I thought that you'd mentioned Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel before.

By WxFollower - Nov. 10, 2022, 5:29 p.m.
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Hey Mike,

 You're certainly one of my favorites, especially considering all that you generously provide at Marketforum!  

 For many years back to the 1980s when I had WGN, Tom Skilling was my favorite even though I've always lived in the SE US. This goes way back to before I started trading. I remember his often showing the European model's maps more than any other. He used to love the Euro! He would go through so many maps in a very short period time. I always wished he had more time.

By metmike - Nov. 10, 2022, 5:38 p.m.
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Thanks Larry!

Here's another one up there with Skilling and the BEST when it came to severe weather.

Gary England

The Weather God of Oklahoma City

This is pay walled but joj gets it.

By metmike - Nov. 10, 2022, 10:47 p.m.
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Thanks for the compliment, Larry.

Considering how much I respect your weather knowledge and  recognize your great skill at repeatedly being able to see weather events well into the future that will affect the price of commodities, that was an extreme high end compliment for me!

I was on WEHT-TV in Evansville IN from 1982-1993.

Here's a weather-cast from 1988.

I was #1 in weather for many years in our market. In 1985, I was even tied for #1 with the very popular, long lived news anchor (David James) at WFIE our main competition.

I had the best forecast accuracy and during most of those years, was the only meteorologist in the market but there were a couple of problems.

The biggest one is that during those 11 years, we never had a radar. Not at the station and also no line to the local radar in Evansville at the airport. So when I cut in with severe weather warnings, I never once showed a radar picture.

Seems insane. I made a case numerous times to management to get a radar, especially a Doppler radar system, starting in the late 1980's when there were 2 different types of Doppler Radars being used by tv stations(before the NWS installed the NEXRAD Dopplers).

In 1990, I was contacted by a Doppler radar salesman in Bloomington, IN who had just got messed over by WFIE on a deal to sell a Doppler. They were going to buy it from a company in MN, associated with their owner, after he did all the survey work and led him on........then dropped him.

He wanted to sell the same system to us at cost (and would do all the work for almost nothing) in order to sabotage the WFIE marketing scheme. His cost was $55,000 but he sold them fo $80,000.

He told me the entire plan by their general manager to use it to promote weather and obliterate my #1 status for weather in the market. We were scheduled to lose our NWS in a move that sent them down to Paducah, KY. A radar beam from 90 miles away, in Paducah, because of the curvature of the earth, is 10,000 feet above the ground and unable to actually see tornadoes at that distance.

People in Evansville were extremely upset. I even did a 30 minute show, called "Blind to Disaster" going to Washington DC to interview our reps from IL, IN and KY to see what they were going to do to stop this. 

So WFIE planned to debut their Doppler with a huge christening ceremony, that included local government(the mayor playing a big role) and market this to residents as the replacement for the NWS radar moving 90 miles away. When severe weather/tornadoes threatened, just watch WFIE's weather to get the Doppler radar images......not Mike Maguire at WEHT that didn't even have a radar of any kind.

This particular Doppler (Collins) couldn't even measure winds(speed or direction). It was mainly a turbulence detector that planes used.  However, viewers would never know that. 

I took notes for 30+ minutes from this guy for details to pass on to my news director, Jon Hmurovic and general manager, Ernie Madden.  Then called him back the next day with questions to be certain this was for real and with a plan on how we would actually steal WFIE's thunder.  Get the doppler radar BEFORE them. 

I took it to our news director who was like me.....WOW!  What a chance to get something we really needed anyway but at cost and use it to beat the competition at their own game.

Our general manager was in Joplin, MO at the time at the other Gilmore Broadcasting, sister station. He made the call to the GM in his office and had it on speaker phone so that I could fill him in on all the details that I'd just told the news director.

When the GM got the call, he immediately responded with "Dopper radar?? Nobody would ever watch television to see a Dopper radar!!

His exact words. The call  ended right after that.

So WFIE did debut their Collins Dopper radar exactly as the salesman described. 

And they promoted it constantly. And people paid attention. 

TV stations do research to survey viewers opinions constantly.  That's how I knew that I was #1. Management never told me(because they don't want you to know things that gave you ammo in negotiating a better salary/contract) but I had a friend, Stan Newman who was production manager, who was privy and would tell me "you got them by the balls"

Anyways, they suddenly showed me the results a year after WFIE got their Doppler radar. A double digit number of viewers switched from our weather to WFIE weather and they make it clear that it was because WFIE had a Doppler radar. 

The news director totally understood. 

Then, we got a new news director. He only looked at the numbers and wasn't there for the dynamics which caused it.  Mike Maguire's rating plunging............time to get a new meteorologist.

So in September 1993, when I thought that I was going to the GM's office to renew my contract. They dropped a bomb. You're being fired. I asked if there was anything that I could do?

No, we've already hired your replacement and he already has a house in Evansville.

Turns out that the news director came from Louisville and the station he was at had a meteorologist, Wayne Hart that he liked. So they lured him to Evansville with a pay raise and guess what? They bought a brand new ENTERPRIZE Doppler radar for $500,000 for him/the station.

Lot's of people upset and asking me what I thought of my replacement.

My comment was "he won't last very long".

They asked if it was because I didn't think he was that good?

When I was training him for 2 weeks, he'd told me some things that suggested he was like most talented tv people in this market size that have no family or connections in a place like Evansville, IN. They use it as a stepping stone to get to larger markets.

Then, I would follow up the response with, no he won't last because he's TOO GOOD to stay in this market. 

I must have said it a thousand+ times since then. During severe weather, Wayne Hart is the best at communicating accurate, understandable, useful and sometimes life saving interpretations of what's going on using his Doppler radar. 

Even better than Gary England in Oklahoma!

He's also outstanding/the best during non severe weather at passing on all weather information, though he doesn't have a flamboyant personality like some weather people.

I don't watch/listen/read weather for personality. It's all about  the meteorology for me.

Wayne Hart is much better on tv than I ever was, especially in his element, using a Doppler radar during severe weather. 

However, I can give anybody a run for their money in providing comprehensive, accurate and educational  weather info here and do better than almost everybody in applying it to the markets.

By metmike - Nov. 11, 2022, 7:29 p.m.
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To finish the previous story.

When I had 2 sons, born in 1988, 1990 I really didn't want to be just a weekend Dad, like all parents that are main anchors in broadcast tv are that work the prime, afternoon/evening shifts. 

My daughter was already 6 when Deb and I married in 1985(from her first marriage), so I had accepted that schedule with her. She was already in school, Cynthia Heights and took the bus to her grand parents house after school(Deb drove her). Her grandma Jolly was wonderful. That was the only part of my job that I hated. 

However, I really, REALLY loved my job. For awhile I was doing the Noon, 5pm, 6pm and 10 pm weather as chief meteorologist and only meteorologist in this market. We had a news person do the weather on the weekends but I would help them out sometimes with weather briefings via phone conversations and in severe weather would come in to help them with coverage.

As a tv celebrity in this community, I was treated extra special. During the 11 years on the air, I did over 300 speaking engagements and appearances.

100+ of them were to students that had been studying weather in their science class. I would always tell them that if I didn't need money, I would do my job for free because it was so much fun(but don't tell my boss). 

I was in dozens of parades, even being the Grand Marshall. In dunk booths, master of ceremony for dozens of events, judge in all sorts of contests. And it was all big fun and meeting wonderful people. (we were told for several years not to judge beauty contests because the winner's family would love you and everybody else was mad and blamed you-and it was true) 

Before meeting my wife, I enjoyed women's affection for me a little too much but thank God I met her just 16 months after my start date and got my morals straightened out.

This was ignoring the best part. In 4 decades of being an operational meteorologist and analyzing weather, often for numerous hours a day, there have been few exceptions to me enjoying it greatly the entire time.

Those exceptions were on weekends when I had a huge trade on and the weather models suddenly changed..........and I was stuck in a position that was going to lose money when the market opened up on Sunday Night(or Monday morning in the old days)


I'm stating this to tell you how much I loved that job and how tough a decision it was going to be for me to part ways so that I could be a good father. 

I decided in 1990, that I was going to go back to school to take a few classes to get my teaching certificate and teach high school physics, science or math to be on my kids schedule. 

I got copies of my college transcripts from the University of Detoit, Eastern Michigan University and University of Michigan. UM is where I had the Atmospheric and Oceanic Science degree and all the math, physics and chemistry requirements and then some. 

I only needed a few classes to teach and honestly, looking back I think any school would have leaped for an opportunity for the celebrity meteorologist to teach at their school if I showed them my transcripts with no teaching stuff.. 

The Indiana Teaching and Certification Resource

In fact, I already had offers from Henderson Community College to teach classes there with no teaching background but I was just too busy at that time. 

But something else that I'd never heard of in my life emerged out of nowhere. It's also why I'm here, at this site today. 

More on the next page.

By metmike - Nov. 11, 2022, 8:11 p.m.
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So I was loving my job so much, that I frittered away the week day time frame to get my teaching certificate but was using it to be with my pre school sons every morning/early afternoon before dropping them off at Old North Pre school for afternoon classes. 

For instance, I purchased "Hooked on Phonics" and taught them both to read in pre school. My oldest son, Quinn was reading at 2nd grade level before kindergarten and on the 2nd hooked on phonics book.

 When he started grade K and could read all the  books fluently from the first day, his friends thought that he was making up the words because all the other kids came there to LEARN to read. 

The younger one, Mac was gifted at math. When Quinn,  3 grades up did math homework in grades, K  and 1, I taught the younger one the same math in preschool and he picked it up immediately.

When Quinn was learning to count by 5's in 1st grade, his younger brother still over a year away from Kindergarten learned it immediately and then blew my mind by showing off by counting backwards from 100 to 0 by 5s.

A year before Mac was to enter grade K, I thought it would be a waste of a year for him to be in pre school again with the kids still trying to learn their ABC's. Quinn had already gone thru K and most of 1st grade and Mac already could read as well as  and do math better than most kids in 1st grade.

And so, it turns out that  I found something that I loved just as much as doing the weather. Viewing the world thru the eyes of a young child, especially one living at home with you. 

So I made an appointment and took Mac to Scott School to see the counselor after I told them that   I wanted to enroll him in school (K) a year early.

He took Mac in a room for an hour and did various tests on him. When he came out, he said something like "He's smarter than most of the kids that we have right now that are finishing kindergarten. He can read and do math already. If you want me to enroll him in kindergarten next Fall, I will do that........however if it was my son, I wouldn't do it."

Then he went on to explain maturity differences that were especially important for boys. This really flipped a switch on in my head about what I'd overlooked. I played alot of sports in school and remember the difference a year could make at the younger ages, for instance.

Anyway, that's the backdrop to my commitment to being a part of their lives since they were born. 


Back to my career

When Quinn, the older one started Kindergarten in September 1993, I was still the chief meteorologist at WEHT.  When I took him to the bus stop early in the morning, I literally cried on the way back because for the first time in my life, I was not going to see him any more from Monday-Friday.  He would be in bed sleeping for hours when I got home from work. 

I hadn't followed thru with my plans to replace my really fun career and now I would never be seeing my sons anymore one they started school. 

My daughter was already in 8th grade and I was used to being a weekend dad with her in school when Deb and I married. She ALWAYS did extremely well, getting straight A's and I take no credit in her early learning. But now, the same thing was going to happen with her younger brothers and I was not prepared for that emotionally. To being a weekend dad. 

Hey, I get it that parents do what they have to in order to make a living and support their family and sometimes that means working the afternoon shifts, or traveling out of town for much of the year.  I had just hoped to not be one of those parents for all my kids.

But then, a kind of miracle blessing in disguise happened.

That's on the next page:

By metmike - Nov. 11, 2022, 8:31 p.m.
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A week after Quinn started grade K, I got a shock of a life time.........was fired as described earlier.

No fault of my own but it happened. 

The scariest part is that Deb and I took out a 2nd mortgage on our house to get a ton of borrowed money to pay cash for a house, then fix it up,  that we bought for her parents in August 1991.

We were living from pay check to pay check and it required both our incomes.

I had 2 weeks left of pay while training the new guy, Wayne Hart.  7 weeks severance pay, then unemployment for X amount of weeks for us to hold on until I could find another source of income or we could potentially lose everything. 

What's interesting is that the day I was fired, I was totally stunned and scared.

Then, the next day I realized that whatever I did next, it would be what I really wanted the most, to be on my sons schedule but it took somebody else to force the right decision on me.

I kid you not, from that next day forward, I became manic with joy. People at the tv station and elsewhere were telling me how horrible and tough it must be and congratulated me for having such a positive attitude despite this tragedy. 

No, it was the best thing that could have ever happened. I could never have quit that awesome job.  

Turns out that I was the room Dad for my sons classrooms for grades K-5. Went on all the class trips as a chaperone.  Coached their basketball, baseball, soccer and chess teams(which morphed into me being a chess coach at 5 schools to 3,700 kids). Was the commissioner/treasurer for some of their sports teams. Took them to piano lessons for numerous years. Was their Cub Scout den leader and Boy Scout adult leader as well as for countless other boys. Taking them and other boys to places like the Rescue Mission for homeless men to help out.  

Getting fired by WEHT was the best bad thing to have ever happened!

But how did we find the extra income to replace my salary?

That's on the next page:

By metmike - Nov. 13, 2022, 12:09 a.m.
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I mentioned earlier that I was going to quit my tv meteorologist job and teach high school physics, math or science to be a 7 day a week dad but never went back to school(wouldn't have had the time).

Something unexpected happened.

In 1988, we had a severe, widespread drought in the Midwest. This is a very agricultural driven community and I'd become very tuned into weather forecasts that considered our farmers.

As the drought developed in the Spring, I was on top of it ahead of others.

Then, when we hit May/June, the headlines on the front page in the Evansville Courier were often "Corn and Soybeans were limit up again on dry weather forecasts" or the updated forecast had more rain and they were limit down. Then, they showed the prices.

I grew up in Detroit. We got the morning paper, Detroit Free Press and afternoon paper, the Detroit News and I don't ever remember the front page having headlines like this. 

I had no clue what futures and commodities were. Seriously, no clue and I was 32 years old and a meteorologist for over 6 years(I spent 9 months in Cincinnati working for a private weather firm in 1982 for my first real  job in the field). You have to also remember that there was no internet back then.

I'd made good friends with Tom Ruder, a broker for Edward D. Jones who did a financial report and gave investment advice during our Noon show on Wednesday's. I was actually in his wedding party. I got advice from him about investing in stock with him as my trusted broker.

I  told Tom that everything I read about in the paper about the weather, I had already forecasted a couple of days BEFORE they were attributing that same weather to the extreme price moves of C and S. I asked Tom what the heck commodity markets were and how could I use them and my weather knowledge to make money.

He shot back that I should never throw my money away in markets like that. And his exact words were "it's worse than horse trading and by the time that you find out about the news, it's already in the price from traders that know more than you"

I trusted him and didn't pursue it.  Then in 1989 we had a record cold December and the news headlines often discussed heating oil prices spiking higher from cold that I'd predicted many days(weeks) earlier.

At that point, I decided to educate myself more with a strong feeling that there must be some way for me to make a lot of  money in weather markets like that.  I was busy raising my kids and doing 4 shows a day Noon, 5pm, 6pm and 10pm without a lot of free time but got a library card to use the library's of both local colleges. 

In 1991, I read a dozen books that they had on commodities..........all of them.  Called the CBOT and had them mail me all their historical price charts. I called  countless places, including commodity trading firms to see what I needed to do to open an account and trade. I identified all the potential weather markets and got price charts and weather for time frames that caused big moves. 

In January 1992, I sent $2,000 to Ira Epstein to open an account. All the other places required a minimum of $5,000 but $2,000 was all the savings that we had, so I picked them. They included free phone quotes. I was assigned a full service broker charging $60/round turn. I called the broker many times to try to get feedback about how to place my first order. He knew that I was clueless. 

I also subscribed to a monthly charting service. At the end of each day, I got the open, close, high/low of 15+ different commodities and hand plotted this on a chart. Never missing a day doing this for 3 years. I always  drew trend lines and sometimes computed crude stochastics and RSI and moving averages. 

Anyway, I made my 1st trade buying `1 contract of February heating oil on a Friday in January 1992, based on a change in the weather models to much colder. On Monday, the heating oil was up over 2c and I made almost $1,000 or 50% on my money.

I called the broker on Monday, to tell him to sell and his response was "I didn't know that you wanted me to buy on Friday, so you don't have anything to sell"

I argued with him but he insisted that I messed up and didn't properly place the order with him.

Wow, I was positive that I made that clear and this guy was ripping me off.  So I called around and got the number to the FTC and CFTC. They told me that my order was on a recorded line and filled me in on lots of other stuff.

On Tuesday, I called the broker back and told him who I spoke with and asked him to play back the recording of me calling in the order.  His response was "I was just kidding yesterday, can't you take a joke?"

At that point, I had nowhere else to turn to but figured  the guy knew better than to try to pull any more fast ones on me.

So my account grew pretty quickly based entirely on big, sudden changes in the weather forecast. It was unbelievable that it took the market so long to react to weather updates back then after they came out. Almost every trade made money for me. 

I was getting my weather from the equipment at the TV station +having Accu Weather fax me the 10 day MRF every morning.  I lived 40 minutes away from the station.

There really wasn't that much data either. Just the 10 day MRF that came out very early and the 48 hour NGM that came out 2 times/day. The markets were only open from 9:30 am to 1:15 pm(grains). 

There was no internet back then.

I shopped around to see what it would cost me to get the data at home. A system with a satellite dish, printer and other items was 10K. 

I knew that I had to have this in order to do best. As soon as the account grew from 2K to 15K, in 1993 I turned around and used 10K for the equipment and paid $275/month to WSI for them to send it to the dish on my roof. Knocked the equity way down but improved my trading. 

Later that year, in September 1993 when I got fired, there was no way I could take money out of the account to replace income. The account was back up to 15K or so. 

In case this didn't work out,  I started working on getting the American Meteorological Society's seal for weather  consulting and doing things like testifying in court in late 1993. I already had the AMS seal for broadcast television.

Several months after getting fired from WEHT,  I got a call from the competition, WFIE wanting to hire me. 

I had numerous discussions with them and I really, really wanted to take the position but it was going to greatly interfere with my family life, so I kept stalling.

They finally said that the next Monday, they had to have an answer. It just so happened that I also had a big trade on over that weekend. On that Monday morning, before calling them,  I made almost as much money as they were offering me to work there. A years worth of income for me over 1 weekend.

That made it easy to say no. 


Almost losing everything with a weekend position

By June of 1994, I'd grown the account to 25k from 2k  in 2.5 years and bought the satellite system for 10k and  had been taking money out to replace my income.

I remember telling my wife that this can't go on. Nobody goes without big losses. It just doesn't happen and it can't continue. 

So one June Friday when weather maps showed a dome of death for the next 10 days,, I loaded the boat long with corn/beans. After the market closed, the 6-10 day showed Much Above temps and No Precip everywhere in the cornbelt.

I took my sons to Hartke pool to celebrate over how much money this trade would make us. 

 By then, I'd dropped the IRA Epstein broker to use their discount desk(he actually refused for a long time because he was likely copying my trades and making good money-so I had to make legal threats)

I'd picked up 3 new accounts with brokers to try them out and get fundamental information that I didn't have, each of them requiring 5K which I wired from the growing IRA Epstein account. 

At all 4 places, I loaded the boat, actually going over margin on that Friday in June, 1994. This is exactly how I'd made 25 times my starting capital in 2.5 years. This trade was going to really make us wealthy!

I got up super early on Saturday to see the MRF, 10 day forecast coming out on my printer. HOLY SHIST! 

The dome was gone, with a chance of rain. OMG, I was trapped and we would lose at least 50% in the account on the open, I thought.

I use to love beer drinking back then but started drinking immediately after seeing the writing on the wall for Monday morning.

I was up early Sunday to watch the maps print out, DOUBLE HOLY SHIST! Now, instead of a dome, the models were showing an upper level trough, tons of rain and cool temperatures. I was convinced that by Monday morning, EVERYONE would know this and both C and S would be locked limit down from the open with me trapped until Tuesday, when we might have another locked limit down.

OMG, this was going to be a disaster because 2 limit downs would not just wipe us out, it would cause me to be as much as $12 k in the hole with no savings and no job.

I broke the news to my wife. During the first year of my trading she begged me not to tell her about any of the trades because she was petrified that I would lose all of our money and is an extremely risk aversion type person. I opened the 1st account with 2k with her furious with me for doing it. 

Now, her worst fears were going to happen. She wondered what I was going to do for income next. I couldn't believe that I'd just completely blown my entire new career over 1 weekend. I was 98% sure that the market would be locked limit down on the open Monday and just wanted to hurry up and get it over with.

The outcome and more next:

By 7475 - Nov. 30, 2022, 3 p.m.
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Well I've gotten to the end of your story so far 

 Almost like a Jack Reacher book ya cant put down.

How the hell do you type that much - I practically failed typing in high school - can't you tell ?

Thanks Mike   very interesting

By metmike - Nov. 30, 2022, 3:12 p.m.
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Thanks John,

you know what manic/depressive personality is?

I like to joke that I’m manic/manic!

my mind is always racing and I drive my wife nuts.

im actually not a great typer and getting worse  but spell and grammar check save me and theres still usually lots of other mistakes. 

By metmike - Feb. 19, 2023, 6:20 p.m.
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Bout time to finish the story!

So a little background on my psyche. Always an extreme risk taker(until I aged) had an extraordinarily stressful youth growing up in Detroit that I'm very grateful for because no adversity(none) has been too much too handle. It prepared me for the worst as a kid without the tools to manage properly, to be an adult with the experience/wisdom that always feels comfortable when the sheet hits the fan.  

The first 2 years that I traded, I maxed out on margin every single time to have the biggest possible position. And I was never wrong. Times were different back then because nobody had the weather like me (with a satellite dish on the roof getting the same stuff when the NWS got their stuff). Only big funds that had meteorologists that would give them a wx summary after a model completely came out and they would use it to put on positions in the market more than 30 minutes AFTER the run was completely out. 

Even though I had to call the order in and that person had to call it to the floor, which wasted numerous minutes(today, you hit a button on your screen and get filled electronically in less than a second) and all I had was 30 minutes of free phone quotes from several firms to monitor prices, I could put on a position and wait, sometimes up to 30 minutes before the market reacted.

And it did 100% of the time because I was extraordinarily picky in selecting trades.

Every  trade featured very weather sensitive markets during a key time frame........then put every penny in the account on it.(back then, you didn't have these insanely low day trading margins. If they did, I honestly would have made millions.

After 1.5 years  when the 2K account was almost 10 times that, I told my wife "what I'm doing is impossible" nobody goes this long without losing on even 1 trade!"

And it went on for another year like that, until the event above occurred. But this was NOT stressful when you make money every time.

I remember when H. Clinton claimed that she gave up trading cattle futures after turning 1K into 100,000K in 1 year because it was too stressful.

Wrong emotion Hillary. Stress is when you have major drawdowns and losses, which neither of us had our first year. Me, trading legit and her fraudulently using a clever scheme to bribe Bill, the governor of AR so that Tyson Foods would benefit to the tune of 5 million. 

Anyway, back to me being stuck in this position that I was certain would wipe us out with 2 limit downs and suffering with, the only time in my adult life being completely overwelmed by the stress.

I used to drink tons of  beer back then. Never once to deal with stress in my life.........except that weekend. Started at 5am both days after seeing the MRF, 240 hour solutions come out.

I called my Dad on Sunday afternoon and we prayed together for a long time.  Not for the market to give me a break or the weather to change but for the strength and wisdom to make the best decisions when the expected worst happened that week, including finding a new source of income. I had some ideas that included being a weather consultant.

Starting an hour before the open on 9:30am Monday(no overnight trading then) I started calling the firms with my money. The limit for corn was 12c and beans 30c if I remember right.

From the get go, the calls were like corn: -2-4 and beans -8-10.  I was like WTHeck, that's impossible and was convinced it would be worse but suddenly had a glimmer of hope that I might not be stuck in 2 limit down moves. But still refused to let myself believe I could be so lucky and had already prepared for the worst.

During the last 30 minutes I spent some of it on the toilet with diarrhea several times. Partly from too much weekend beer and mostly from the stress. 

I did not have an order on the open but had orders with the broker to place when I told them. I wanted to see where we opened which was really dumb, considering how much time it took in those days to get a fill and I had to call several different firms to put in separate orders. 

So the corn opened, I think -9c and the beans -25c and the market was trading which seemed like a miracle based on my analysis the past day which said limit down Monday and maybe close to another limit down Tuesday.

Half my capital went poof instantly but I quickly called those firms,  3 had full service brokers, starting 5 seconds after the open and had them send the sell orders that I had ready with them to cover the entire position.

Every single one of them gave me the same advice. "Don't get out here, it will come back"  and I said, no it won't SELL NOW!

So before I even got all my fills back, the market went to limit down and solidly locked limit down the entire rest of the day.  My selling price was almost at the high of the day as the corn and beans only traded freely for less than the first 10 minutes. 

The next day, the market opened down almost the same amount lower (expanded limits). If I didn't have those few minutes to get out Monday after the open, I would have been wiped out and owed a ton of money that we didn't have.

Almost nobody would be celebrating that they just lost over half their money in an instant. But I was extremely euphoric, fed by every call on Monday that gave the same exact price.........LOCK LIMIT DOWN for both corn and beans for numerous contracts out.

Because I WAS OUT! It was a miracle and much better than anything expected. The sharply lower open on Tuesday provided me with even more joy to my psyche. 

What's interesting is that if I hadn't been long on Monday, I might have been selling but being so close to the limit would have been a tough sell.  However, I DID SELL. All my longs.

Sometimes, it's not the entry price but the exit price that matters most. That's what YOU DID LAST.

Turns out, that I actually got back on track on Wednesday and made myself short the market based on my analysis. Man, that was a tough trade to make. 

By the end of 1994, I actually more than recovered and made decent money for the year.

I was less than 10 minutes away from destroying my career trading and somehow, survived to experience that!

So I learned an incredible lesson but repeated the same thing over a long, July 4 weekend in 1999 or 2000 but worse. 

This time, Project A featured overnight trading which opened on Monday Evening.

I had built up the account to half a million by then and was long 300 contracts of CZ and 150 SX. Lind Waldock was really nervous about me and anything over 200 corn and 100 beans they imposed 150% of the margin required because they were worried I would stick them with a massive loss. I had alot of debates with the margin dept over this that included appeals that made no difference.

I was extremely confident that the bearish weather pattern was going to change to extremely bullish (and turned out right)  but was early.

Unlike the previous event, this time I decided to stay long overnight because I knew that I was right.  Bad move, overconfident, too much risk.

I could have got out with a loss of around 150K on the open.......but didn't. I figured the weather maps would change enough overnight for the market to see what I did.........but it didn't.

This time, I  stayed up all night and watched while the market traded and the losses mounted.

-200K.....ok, I still have 300K and the market will see this any minute.

I never used a stop the first 15 years that I traded because I was always right. I just stayed until the weather told me to get out and had only been really wrong that one time over a weekend in 1994.

Finally, when I was down -225K on the Project A close and I was exhausted from staying up all night, my emotions and common sense finally got to me.

 I realized, holy crap, this isn't acting the way I thought, I better get out of everything on the day session open or risk being wiped out and at the very least, I was going to face some hefty margin calls on the close that I couldn't make, then face forced liquidation by them (I've never had a margin call on the close in my life) and they would probably make me pay 150% margin for my entire positions after that. 

So I sold everything on a gap lower on the day session open for -286K, easily my biggest loss and it was THE EXACT LOW OF THE ENTIRE SUMMER!

That was a miserable July as I calculated how much money I would have made if I stayed long. Well over 1 million by the end of the month which had turned very hot and dry. Exactly as my analysis showed but I was 1 trading day too early and couldn't hold on with a spike down washout of longs.

The gap lower, was a gap and crap selling exhaustion gap. Once filled at an extreme end of a long lived move its an extremely powerful technical signature. 

In retrospect, if I had no position that morning when we gapped lower, I would have absolutely been loading the boat long..........instead, I was doing the opposite......selling the lows to cover.

At the end of that year, I had my first time claiming losses but ended up recovering to new highs in the account, just barely a few years later.

By then, big traders became more savvy and found out my secret and were using the latest technology for getting weather and  in house models TO BEAT ME. 

I knew it because, instead of putting on a trade, then waiting for the market to react, I was getting ready to put on some trades........and suddenly the market reacted first!

Then, on Halloween 2011, Jon Corsine took all my money and the others in segregated accounts at MF Global to come up with a billion dollars to make a margin call on a European bond trade and cause MFG to go bankrupt.

I borrowed a bunch of money to open an account with PFG a couple months later and put the returned MFG money in that account. Then in July 2012, PFG went bankrupt because of fraud and I lost most of that money, that included the borrowed money.  I had to borrow more money.

The markets are NOT like they were in the 1990's, so I haven't had the same success.

By coffeeclotch - Feb. 19, 2023, 8:48 p.m.
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Mike we have crazy similar stories The only difference is I'm a weather aficionado as a hobby and not to trade.. My trading success was based on psychological evaluation and the market was so much easier to forecast no pun intended back in my '80s '90s and early 2000 trading days.. I also had many instances when I had my family praying for my last shekel and yet I consistently made money for a long time despite some massive losses where I literally sold the low or high.. if Only And then my big wipeout and since then I've been a scared broken PTSD trader for a long time.. You mentioned 150 corn I had 200 contracts of gold literally at the bottom.. I was a madman Now I trade one mini natural gas and I'm watching all weekend nervously lol.. So one question I have from your story you had your money in MF global accounts segregated funds and they took most of your money and you never got it back? That's so outrageous

By metmike - Feb. 19, 2023, 9:38 p.m.
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You totally understand alot. 

I did get all the MFG money back. The money was there but took numerous months for it to gradually be returned.

Everything would have been great if only I had not opened a new account with PFG with a bunch of borrowed money.

Stimpy from MarketForum was trading there and he was the reason I used them.

They had some awesome platforms and service and I totally understand why he recommended PFG.

Turns out that their owner was doing a ponzi scheme thing. He was having a lavish life style, spending millions, while his company lost more and more money that he replenished with new accounts and fake tax and account statements.

He used a PO box for the CFTC to check his financial statements and it was him at the other end, making numbers up and sending them to completely manufacture a healthy financial appearance of a company going bankrupt.

After that one, I had no money and had borrowed all the money we could.  I opened a small account but had to keep taking out the profits to pay bills, the first few year and not grow it.

Customers that just waited years got as much as 44% of their money back.

 I finally had to take a crappy offer from somebody for the rest of my money to pay bills since I couldn't wait. The pay out for me was 30% of the money lost but I also lost BORROWED money in that account.

When I was making a 6 figure income, I let my wife pick a new house and she picked one with 6,000 sq feet, 3 floors and a basement.

The bills associated with that required me needing alot of money.

In recent years, my trading has been horrible.

I'll just give you  links about that.

So I was the luckiest man on the planet to not get wiped out in 1994 because of my own bad decision putting on a risky trade(saved by a 10 minute window)

Then the most unlucky man on the planet by having both trading firms I used, both go bankrupt within 9 months of each other. 

By coffeeclotch - Feb. 19, 2023, 10:08 p.m.
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But I thought most of the clients of MF global did take a hit to their accounts so I'm a bit confused.. 1994 I was short a coffee option right before the second frost hit I covered that Friday afternoon and Monday morning coffee shot up over 100 points.. My mother was short the same option She didn't cover it for literally $0.10 and it opened up over $100.. I guess I could have used your weather expertise then lol.. My trading has also been horrible over the last few years but that's because my capital was completely compromised and I always say if you're trading to pay a bill the market owns you..

By metmike - Feb. 19, 2023, 10:21 p.m.
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All the money was returned to clients from MFG, to my understanding.

I took an early payout from somebody on that money too because I didn't want to wait years for the return. 

There was a huge business with groups offering XX% to every MFG and PFG customers to have the right to buy their stake in the account.

I waited until the offers went up enough and I was crying uncle, needing money to take the cash and let them wait years to get the rest back in small increments.

I thought restitution was 100% for MFG and 44% for PFG but it took years.

The killer for me was the additional borrowed money on top of the lower MFG payout which was all at PFG, where I took something less than 40% on the 2nd pay out and was using to pay bills, instead of growing the account and  generating income.

I'm like you now. I haven't made a living at this for over a decade and its more of a hobby. 

I turned 2K into, I think it was 700K at the peak(and while draining it 300K to pay bills/buy stuff-including giving some away).