Yesterday was the first Sunday in months without football on TV to the everlasting joy of its detractors, but unfortunately it was a perfect day, if there ever is one, for staying inside and watching it.

While area residents took down Christmas trees, browsed through seed catalogues, or perhaps headed for the nearest sale, dense fog hovered the metropolitan area, mixed with drizzle and rain, capping a weekend of gloomy weather.

Fog brought visibility down to zero in many places Saturday night, forcing Dulles International Airport to divert fights to New York for several hours, and it [WORD ILLEGIBLE] on through the night to plague motorists.

The ceiling lifted a little yesterday, but rain began falling about dawn and, alternating with drizzle, lingered through the day. The National Weather service measuring station at Suitland recorded .71 of an inch by 6 last night.

That's all supposed to end by today. A winter storm blowing down from Canada and across the Northern Plains is expected to chase away the warm air and mist and replace it with bitter winds and cold.

The weather service predicts that temperatures will drop into the 20s this afternoon, with some snow flurries - but no accumulation - and lows tonight of between 8 and 12 degrees. Winds are expected to gust up to 40 m.p.h. in the afternoon and through the night.

The cause of the peculiar weekend weather was a moist warm from that moved in from the south and became stagnant because there was no weather force from the west to move it.

"The air aloft, warmer than that on the ground, acted as a lid," said forecaster Jack Fuge, and this pushed the ceiling down and prevented moisture from escaping.

As a result visibility was down to one-sixteenth of a mile at Dulles, zero at Lynchburg, and a quarter of a mile at National Airport Saturday night. As the storm approached yesterday, the ceiling lifted to from 300 to 800 feet with visibility at one to two miles.

Yesterday's high temperature was 49 degrees at Suitland, with temperatures this morning expected to be from 35 to 40 degrees before falling rapidly in this afternoon.

Heavy snow was expected through the night in the Blue Ridge Mountains and highlands of western Maryland. The chance of precipitation locally is predicted to fall to zero tonight through Wednesday, with temperatures remaining in the 20s and below.