If a sudden snowstorm were to catch Gordon Barnes with his isotherms down and leave your auto stranded under three feet of snow on a "snow emergency" street this afternoon, would you be in violation of the law?

Few area driverss would be eager to bet either way on that question. The snow emergency regulations are too long and too complicated to memorize. However, publication of a few highlights from the regulations might be useful.

The law doesn't demand that you use chains or snow tires. It merely says that you are subject to penalty if, between Oct.15 and April 15, your vehicle stalls on a snow emergency (major) street and is not equipped with appropriate tires or chains. You are also subject to penalty if you permit your car to run out of gas on a snow emergency street.

If your car does become stalled on a snow emergency street, whether because of a flat tire, lack of fuel, freezeup, no snow tires or any other cause, you are required to do four things:

1. Put a note on your windshield saying that you have gone for help and stating the time at which you left.

2. Go to the nearest phone or "place of assistance" to make arrangements to have your car towed off the snow emergency street.

3. Spend no more time away from your car than is absolutely necessary arrangements for assistance.

4. Return to your car and wait there until the help you have summoned arrives and your car is removed.

If you fail to follow these instructions, the police are empowered to consider your car "abandoned," and all sorts of bad things can happen thereafter.

Note, too, that the foregoing requirements apply to all who drive on Washington streets, not merely to Washington residents. Life is grim, life is earnest.