South Mississippi Braves First Freeze Of 2004

The sun appeared over a shivering South Mississippi. Just how cold was it?

"I can't feel my face," Optech worker Jeff Davis said as he prepared to saw a piece of wood. "It's pretty cold."

It was cold enough to freeze a sparkling image of winter on the limbs of a tree. Betty Sutton and her stop sign were just beyond the frozen icicle display. The crossing guard looked like an eskimo braving frosty temperatures to help chilly children dash off to school.

"It's very cold this morning," she said through her scarf. "It's cutting right through me."

Just down the road was Sutton's colleague, Johnnie Mae Harper.

"I hate these days," Harper said. "I love when it's hot. But I hate these days."

So just how cold was it? Harper had "two pair of gloves on, and it's freezing," she laughed. "Isn't that something."

As two Anniston Avenue Elementary School students walked past her, Harper said, "I know it's cold out here. I'm ready to come inside."

So just how cold was it?

Imagine riding on the back of a BFI garbage truck with wintry air slamming into your face. Melvin Broughton didn't have to imagine it.

"It just feels so cold," the garbage man said, "sometimes you just come over to the side, where it didn't hit you at, stay a little warmer. Or sometimes when we just, when we gotta go a far distance, we get back in the truck and warm up."

So just how cold was it?

At 8:40 am, a bank thermometer said it was 35 degrees -- in the sun. Unfortunately for the Optech workers, they started the day in the much chillier shade. Virtually every inch of Tyrone Clark was covered with winter clothing.

"As long as I've got my gloves on, I'm okay," he said.

Clark figured as long as his crew stayed busy, it could survive winter's first blast in 2004.

WLOX News checked with shelters around South Mississippi, to see how busy they were Tuesday night. The Gulfport Salvation Army squeezed more than 100 people into its facility. Surprisingly, the Pascagoula Salvation Army had fewer people than a typical bad weather night. And the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission had about 10 extra people spend the night, so they could stay warm.