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Here's the thing: I earned a degree in atmospheric sciences. I understand the math behind it all (to an extent...I'm not exactly jazzed to talk about barotropic instability--I just never got the layman's terms of it all) and the background of processes. Radars are awesome, and don't even get me started on attenuation of radiation in the atmosphere. But, I was never one to forecast. Anytime I rocked WxChallenge, I seriously guessed on the meteogram run by Iowa State. I could blend a set of USL and NAM highs like you wouldn't believe. Bump the wind up a few knots, and I was good to go.

But this doesn't exactly 1) make me feel like I'm using the full extent of my degree and 2) make me feel good about forecasting. I get confused when people talk about how the GFS isn't performing well lately. What does that even mean? How can a computer model, crunching ugly differential equations, "have a bad day"? Humans have bad days. Heck, I bet birds have bad days, but not a computer. When I read AFDs, sometimes the forecaster discusses how the models are in a good agreement, but my own investigation shows completely different temperature/precipitation distributions or schemes altogether.

So I have to ask--what do you do, step by step, to form a forecast of high temperatures, low temperatures, wind, and rain chances. Down the nitty gritty, please. Do you read an AFD first and then go with a preconceived notion of what you expect to happen? Do you barebones it and start from scratch? Do you look at MOS and decide they're close enough in agreement and tell your friends what you think (that sounds like cheating, and more so boring)?

TL;DR: how to WxChallenge? I'm excited to read your responses!

Edit: I should probably mention that I'm new to this site.

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