On a day when snow flurries swirled out of scudding gray clouds, and barely budding branches bobbed and trembled in a brisk west wind, spring came to Washington yesterday, arriving precisely at three minutes past noon.

The temperature was 40 degrees at National Airport when the sun crossed the equator, the halfway point on its journey from winter to summer. At yesterday's peak of 48 degrees, the reading remained well below the normal for the date, which is 56.

Yet while temperatures seemed to chilly for spring, they were too high for much snow. The morning's flurries were only that and little more, although they caused consternation and delay among rush-hour motorists.

The flurries and their accompanying traffic jams were reported at their heaviest and stickiest in Montgomery County, where snow was reported about 5:30 a.m., during the day's coldest hours. The low figure at the airport was 28 degrees at 4:25 a.m.

Today, which will be spring all day, the mercury is expected to climb as high as 52 degrees under mainly sunny skies.

Neither the snow nor the subnormal temperatures that marked winter's last day were particularly representative of the entire season.

"We really haven't had much" snow this winter, said U.S. weather service forecaster Jeffrey Bowman, who said the total was about 4.5 inches.

"It's just been dry," he explained, "very, very dry."

Although Washington was gripped by subnormal, subfreezing cold in January, many days in February were warmer than normal, so that in temperature terms, Bowman said, the winter "probably turned out just about normal.