FEW PEOPLE who have weathered winters in this town get sentimental about the snows of yesteryear -- and certainly not that last big one that froze up every train of bureaucratic thought about how to react to it. Some storytellers still swear that it took until June to thaw the last commuter found staring blankly down the tracks from an outdoor Metro platform somewhere on the Red Line. It was not Mayor Barry's finest hour: he wasn't here and didn't get back from California all that quickly, either. Had it been Election Day, he wouldn't have had to bother. But now there is brave new talk from the mayor: he says the District is ready for the next big storm.

Mark those words -- lest they wind up as entrees on the mayoral menu in a few months. But at least Mr. Barry sounded upbeat and eager to show that he's paying attention to the nuts and bolts of running a city. He even acknowledged that his absence was a problem: "Citizens like to feel their mayor is suffering with them. . . . Psychologically and politically, I need to be here." So do more snowplows, the mayor noted, along with a revised emergency route system and mobilization when the forecasts start talking two inches -- not waiting for three or four.

The mayor's new snow plan appears to make sense. Tough parking rules, quick deployments of machinery, coordination with Metro and Uncle Sam on office closings and other steps outlined this week have got to help. But we'll reserve final judgment until the plan's been tested