You say your furnace is running non-stop, your ears are blue and your hat was last seen heading for Gaithersburg?

And the wind is howling through the storm windows you forgot to caulk because you were too busy sunbathing in December?

And you were late to work yesterday because the stoplight froze?

Well, yesterday was not that cold. Low for the day: 27 degrees. Average low for Jan. 15: 28. Record low for the day: 4 degrees, back in 1886.

Now that's cold.

True, the wind did put something of a bite to things, blowing out of the northwest at 21 mph and gusting to 35. That put the wind chill factor somewhere between 0 and 10 degrees, but that's not unusual for January. It's almost the norm.

It's important to put this in some sort of perspective, because this air mass came out of the Arctic by way of Manitoba, and there's more on the way. We're talking minus 7 degrees in Eau Claire, Wis., yesterday. That IS cold, and it's aimed right at us -- part of a vast high pressure system centered yesterday in southeast Kansas and stretching over maybe half the country.

What blew in Monday night and yesterday was just the warmer, blustery leading edge. When the real thing collides with a soggy low-pressure area now revving up in Louisiana that is also headed our way, we're talking little white flakes maybe Thursday. So let's all get a grip on ourselves while the streets are still dry.

Wind chills of 30 degrees below zero were forecast yesterday for parts of the Northeast, Great Lakes, Appalachia and the Ohio Valley.

A heavy snow warning was posted for extreme Western Maryland with up to a foot of snow possible.

Bowie Race Course canceled yesterday's card after the first race because of the cold.

Wind damage was minor and scattered around the area.

James Buck, a spokesman for the Virginia Electric and Power Co., said wind-blown tree limbs snapped two power lines together, causing brief power failures in Annandale and Mclean.

However, he said that fewer than 2,500 Vepco customers were affected.