AS AN EVENT, a snowstorm has few rivals in this area. It dominates conversation in every neighborhood and office, triggers emergency procedures from school closing to special radio broadcasts, and complicates all mundane activities, particularly travel, often forcing us to go home and hibernate -- and even read a book. But unlike Buffalo or some other city that has real reason to grimace at the news of snow because it is sometimes dangerously covered with the stuff, Washington does not have to worry much about snow's becoming a pernament problem. We can enjoy it. Even last February's snowstorm -- the worst in 50 years -- went away in just a few days.

A storm like that one, or like last August's Hurricane David, comes as a rude intruder. Even so, such intrusions are so rare as to be almost welcome -- unless, of course, they do major damage. They are welcome because Washington's weather is usually so, well, boring. The average temperature here last year was a comfortable 58 degrees -- not so warm as to be really nice and not so cold as to be awful. We are in between. Precipitation here may be heavy one month and light the next, but the yearly rainfall is average. An extra 10 inches of rain fell on the Washington area last year, but those few inches did not have anyone mistaking Washington for Seattle.

According to the National Weather Service, our overall weather picture for the last few years has been a healthy one. Last year's weather, for example, abundantly filled the rivers, kept pollution levels low and refilled the water table below the land. There was a healthy medium of hot and cold, wet and dry, leaving the Washington area with generally blah (and slightly muggy) weather. As we said, on the average it tends to be boring, but it does offer this advantage: it makes the occasional snowfall, like the small one yesterday, mostly fun.