Warm air and continuing work by plows and sand trucks helped bring area roads back toward normal yesterday, but many commuters still found their trips took longer than usual.

Snow blocking curb lanes on a few major arteries such as Connecticut and Wisconsin avenues continued to slow traffic. Metrorail ran a full schedule without difficulty, but iced roads forced Metrobus to alter about 25 routes during the morning. By 2 p.m., the bus system reverted to its full schedule for the first time since last week's snows.

Around the area, pedestrians wisely kept their boots on, as icy water pooled ankle-deep at crosswalks and walls of wet snow blocked access to homes and office buildings.

National Weather Service forecasters said the thaw would continue today, with temperatures climbing into the 50s. There is a 30 percent chance of rain today, they said, which would add to the mess while it fell but speed up the melting process.

That rain would be a blessing on roads with good drainage, but could cause flooding in low-lying areas where snow still blocks storm sewers, officials said.

Federal employes will be expected to show up for work today, the Office of Personnel Management said, with no special provisions for delays caused by traffic conditions. School openings will range from on time to two hours late in area jurisdictions.

Metro operations chief Theodore Weigle said buses and trains would operate their full schedules today, though some buses still would run late due to the remaining snow.

The massive clean-up campaign that began over the weekend continued to taper off yesterday. Most plows tending state roads in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs were pulled off the job, though crews were to remain on call to sand pavement that freezes overnight.

Don Keith, chief of state roads in Northern Virginia, said no further plowing is planned on residential streets maintained by his crews. "The snow will melt a lot faster where it is than it will piled up on somebody's driveway," Keith said.

D.C. finished clearing the Southwest Freeway and Interstate Rte. 295, officials said, while about 30 plows and other snow removal vehicles continued working the city's streets yesterday. Traffic engineering chief Seward Cross estimated that about 85 percent of the lane space on major commuter routes was passable yesterday. He estimated the major routes would be close to 100 percent clear for today's rush.

Many of the plows operating yesterday worked on residential streets, often in response to calls from citizens still unable to use their cars. Montgomery County crews tried yesterday to open two lanes on county streets where plows had cleared only one and planned to continue today.

Without hard work with a shovel, parking continued to be next to impossible on many side streets. In Baltimore, a woman was shot in the thigh Tuesday night in a dispute with a neighbor over rights to a parking space the neighbor had cleared, police said.