It snowed again yesterday - a light dusting that caused the usual traffic tieups and fender-bender accidents in the Washington area and even prompted some suburban schools to close early just as the snow went away and the sun came out.

A grand total of 3 inches of snow was recorded at the National Weather Service's measuring station at National Airport, but amounts of up to two inches were reported to the east of Washington, especially on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

The snow - part of a storm system moving northward from the Carolinas - in fact reversed the usual pattern hereabouts, dumping greater amounts in the eastern half of the area and leaving the west relatively untouched. Maryland highway officials dispatched 1,400 workers with dump trucks and plows, but even so, school in seven counties, including Prince George's and Anne Arundel closed in the early afternoon.

In suburban Virginia, where snow accumulations were even smaller, Fairfax County closed its schools early, to the delight of children and puzzlement of many parents.

"It's ridiculous . . . the kids are laughing at the situation," said Mina Schneider, mother of two children at Chantilly Secondary School. "The sun was shining when they came out."

School system spokesman George F. Hamel said the decision to close was made early in the morning and was based on the most current official weather forecasts, which indicated a possible accumulation of one inch of snow and freezing conditions. County police also reported slick roads in the morning, Hamel said.

The decision to close schools early had to be made by 10 a.m., he said, to allow adequate notification to the county's 650 bus drivers.

What little snow there was came as predicted by the National Weather Service. The thin, granular snow started falling at 7:37 a.m. at National Airport, gradually diminishing as the morning went on and stopping altogether at 1:15 p.m.

The weather service sees little chance of more snow through tomorrow, but called for cold and variably cloudy conditons.

High temperatures today and tomorrow should range from28 to 32 defrees, the weather service said, and the lows tonight are expected to drop to the upper teens. There is a 10 percent chance of precipitation through tomorrow night.