Essex resides in the latitude of predominately South-Westerly winds where depressions and their associated bands of cloud and rain move Eastwards, often bringing unsettled weather - particularly during the autumn.
We are privileged to have several sandy beaches that bask in hot and sunny weather during the summer months and numerous visitor attractions and places of interest that are enjoyable throughout the year.
The air streams associated with the depressions often originate in very warm or cold regions. Still, by the time they reach the United Kingdom, their extreme temperatures have been modified by the seas and oceans they have travelled. Consequently, summers in Essex are cooler than in continental Europe, but the winters are usually much milder.
Sometimes large, stationary anticyclones become established near the United Kingdom and block the depressions. These anticyclones are most common in spring but can occur in all seasons, and they can persist for several weeks and completely change the weather's character.
In summer, the blocking anticyclones often bring a prolonged spell of very warm or hot weather to Essex. In winter, dry weather prevails in anticyclones. Still, during cloudless nights the temperature falls away and does not recover the following day because of weak sunshine or dense fog patches. Suppose a winter anticyclone settles to the North or North-East of the United Kingdom. In that case, Easterly winds can draw bitterly cold air from the continent into Essex for an extended period.
Falls of snow in Essex are confined to November to April, though falls of sleet and wet snow occasionally occur in late October. Snow rarely lies before December or after March.
The number of days with snow lying is less than the number of days with snow falling because, in many cases, when snow is falling, the ground temperature remains above freezing point, resulting in the snow not lying for long.
Thunderstorms can occur at any time of the year, but the maximum frequency of occurrence is between May and September. During the summer months, bands of thunderstorms often push up from Northern France during the evening hours bringing spectacular lightning displays to many parts of Essex. One thunderstorm delivered 115 mm of rainfall in just two hours on August 1st 1888, in Romford.
Because of the variation in the day's length from winter to summer, the sunshine duration shows a marked seasonal variation. Consequently, December is, on average, the month with the least sunshine, and June is the sunniest. Rettendon notched up 1850 hours of sun in 1990 – making it one of the sunniest places in the whole of the United Kingdom that year.
The strongest winds in Essex are associated with the passage of depressions across or close to England and Wales. Shoeburyness recorded a maximum wind gust of 101 mph during the Great Storm in October 1987.
Air temperature varies on a daily, seasonal and geographical basis. Daily, the temperature is lower at night than by day, with the minimum temperature typically occurring shortly after dawn and the maximum temperature two or three hours after midday. February is, on average, the coldest month and August the warmest.
In February, the coldest districts are Uttlesford and Braintree. The main factor determining temperature distribution in Essex is the distance from the North Sea. The coldest night on record occurred in South Ockendon on February 7th 1879, when -21.4 degrees Celsius was observed.
In July, the warmest districts are those bordering London – Brentwood, Thurrock and Epping Forest. Communities near the coast are less warm than inland, the opposite of what happens in February and the temperature decreases from South to North Essex. The Met Office station at Andrewsfield recorded 35.9 degrees Celsius on August 10th 2003 - the highest official temperature recorded in Essex. An unofficial 37.9 degrees Celsius was recorded in Epping on the same day.