Spring marched in yesterday, and like a moody infant was full of surprises--sunny with smiles one moment and weeping wet, even stammering with hail, the next.

While some people took the day in stride, calling the sweet-foul weather a natural late-March shenanigan, and others cursed the day, some Washingtonians savored and praised the first full day of spring.

"It's got me very excited because it's a very springy day and I saw a wonderful rainbow across the sky," said Charley Morrow, 18, a freshman student at American University who was on the Mall with his shoes off and a sketch book in tow.

Morrow, a sandy-haired native of Cape May, N.J., smiled and said, "I wanted to feel the grass with my bare feet. I haven't walked in my bare feet in a long time."

Yesterday's high temperature, 69, was 20 degrees short of the record high for March 21, set in 1921. The normal for the day is 57, according to the National Weather Service.

Today is expected to be colder than normal, with temperatures in the high 30s in the morning and reaching the high 40s by lunchtime. No precipitation is expected, but it will be windy with variable cloudiness, the weather service said. Wednesday is expected to be colder, with temperatures in the low 30s. Warmer weather is expected to return on Thursday and Friday, with thunderstorms possible on Friday.

Yesterday's unsettled weather was caused by a cold front from Canada that began invading the area shortly before noon, according to the weather service. As the cold front forced the warmer air to rise, clouds and precipitation were formed. Scattered rain and thunderstorms dropped about .3 inches of water on Washington and the surrounding areas.

Simultaneous sunshine and rain were caused by the vertical structure of the clouds that, for the most part, didn't cover a large area at one single time. While the clouds poured, rays of sun shot the gaps in between them. At times several clouds would briefly converge, painting the sky a gloomy gray.

"It's cloudy, then it's sunny again somehow. It's raining on and off, on and off. I tell you, this Washington weather is quite interesting," said Alexander Boateng, 32, an immigrant from Ghana who now lives in the District and drives a cab.

"I don't know what to say about today. Did they send a space ship up lately?" asked James Allen, 48, a street vendor who laid out for sale a rainbow array of daffodils, pink, white, and red carnations and red roses at the corner of 15th and K streets yesterday afternoon. "Everytime they send one up it seems like this kind of thing happens to the weather. That's what people say, anyhow."