The Polar version 3.1.1 of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF), a high-resolution regional scale model, is used to simulate conditions for the year December 2006 to November 2007. The goal is to compare model output of near-surface and tropospheric variables to observational data sets. The domain mirrors that of the Arctic System Reanalysis (ASR), an assimilation of model fields with Arctic observations being conducted partly by the Polar Meteorology Group of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University. A key development in this Polar WRF study is the extension of the seasonal progression of sea ice albedo to the entire Arctic Ocean. The boundary conditions are specified by the NCEP Final global gridded analysis archive (FNL), a 1° × 1° global grid updated every 6 h. The simulations are performed in 48 h increments initialized daily at 0000 UTC, with the first 24 h discarded for model spin-up of the hydrologic cycle and boundary layer processes. Model large-scale variables of atmospheric pressure and geopotential height show good agreement with observations. Spatial distribution of near-surface air temperatures compares well with ERA-Interim despite a small negative bias in the station analysis. Surface dewpoint temperatures and wind speeds show small biases, but model skill is modest for near-surface winds. Tropospheric temperatures and wind speeds, however, agree well with radiosonde observations. This examination provides a benchmark from which to improve the model and guidance for further development of Polar WRF as ASR's primary model.