We present a multi-year short-range hindcast experiment and its experimental design for better evaluation of both the mean state and variability of atmospheric moist processes in climate models from diurnal to interannual timescales and facilitate model development. We used the Community Earth System Model version 1 as the base model and performed a suite of 3 d hindcasts initialized every day starting at 00:00 Z from 1997 to 2012. Three processes – the diurnal cycle of clouds during different cloud regimes over the central US, precipitation and diabatic heating associated with the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO), and the response of precipitation, surface radiative and heat fluxes, as well as zonal wind stress to sea surface temperature anomalies associated with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation – are evaluated as examples to demonstrate how one can better utilize simulations from this experiment to gain insights into model errors and their connection to physical parameterizations or large-scale state. This is achieved by comparing the hindcasts with corresponding long-term observations for periods based on different phenomena. These analyses can only be done through this multi-year hindcast approach to establish robust statistics of the processes under well-controlled large-scale environment because these phenomena are either a result of interannual climate variability or only happen a few times in a given year (e.g., MJO, or cloud regime types). Furthermore, comparison of hindcasts to the typical simulations in climate mode with the same model allows one to infer what portion of a model's climate error directly comes from fast errors in the parameterizations of moist processes. As demonstrated here, model biases in the mean state and variability associated with parameterized moist processes usually develop within a few days and manifest within weeks to affect the simulations of large-scale circulation and ultimately the climate mean state and variability. Therefore, model developers can achieve additional useful understanding of the underlying problems in model physics by conducting a multi-year hindcast experiment.