Washington area residents sloshed through an unappetizing soup of snow, sleet and slush yesterday, but sunshine and mostly clear skies are on the meteorological menu for today.

While the scattered snow, freezing rain and sleet yesterday made things generally miserable for man and beast, the area was spared the heavy snow originally forecast to hit here. Warm air from the south turned much of the snow into rain and kept the rest far to the west of the Washington area, the National Weather Service said.

The conditions caused some slow-moving commuter traffic during the afternoon rush hour and several minor accidents, but no major tieups, according to area police.

The weather service called for mostly sunny and windy conditions today with temperatures ranging from 28 to 34 degrees in the early morning to 48 to 52 degrees in the afternoon -- just about normal for this time of year.

While the Washington area missed the heavy snow, portions of western Virginia and Maryland were hit hard by both snow and ice. Several inches of snow blanketed the Shenandoah Valley. Schools were closed in at least 34 counties and cities in western and northern Virginia, including nearby Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Closer to Washington, Montgomery and Howard county schools closed early yesterday because of hazardous road conditions, but other school systems operated normally.

The Virginia Electric and Power Co. said that power was cut off to several thousand northern Virginia customers for various lengths of time last night after ice-laden tree branches snapped and fell across power lines. Hardest hit were Fairfax City, and the Herndon, Springfield and Vienna areas of Fairfax County.

Earlier, about 2,000 Potomac Electric Power Co. customers in the Silver Spring area lost power briefly when a truck slid off an icy road and knocked down a utility pole.

Meanwhile winds clocked at more than 40 miles an hour blew off roofs and caused "extensive" property damage in Worchester County, Md., which includes Ocean City, according to state police. No injuries were reported.

Operations were under way last night to rescue nine persons aboard an 83-foot trawler than ran aground in high winds on Assateague Island, near Ocean City, state police reported.

At Dulles International Airport, icing on airplane wings was blamed for cancellation of about half a dozen flights last night, an airport spokesman said.

Efforts were made to clear the ice, he said, but by the time workmen finished one wing of each plane and began on the other, ice had formed again on the first wing.