The Isle of Wight is one of the most southerly regions of the United Kingdom and enjoys the luxury of a milder climate and more sunshine than most other places in the UK, even others along the south coast of mainland Britain.
The brighter, warmer climate is the reason why increasing numbers of visitors come to the island each year, some to the seaside resorts on the south-east coast, but many to its beautiful, undiscovered countryside.
Temperatures on the Isle of Wight in the high season reach around 21°, with average minimum temperatures falling to around 12°. In the winter months average lows reach 3° and highs of 12°, still far higher than much of mainland Britain, even southerly regions.
The maritime influence is a key factor of the Isle of Wight climate. Although the island is only separated from the mainland by the narrow waters of the Solent, the sea certainly affects climatic conditions throughout the year.
Lower summer and higher winter temperatures
Breezes that blow in from the English Channel contributes to lower summer and higher winter temperatures along the island’s windward coasts and, occasionally south-westerlies and westerlies can produce strong gusts in the winter months. In October 1987, when a hurricane struck the UK, gusts of over 100mph were recorded at the Needles and St Catherine’s, but this is certainly rare!
These breezes from the English Channel help to blow summer showers away from the Isle of Wight – it’s not unusual to see blue skies above the island while dark clouds and thunderstorms cover areas of the mainland. From October to March, as the north-westerlies bring rain, hail and snow to the UK’s North and West coastlines, the sea has a warming effect on the island, so you’ll often experience clear sunny days in the winter months.
Annual rainfall is therefore less on the Isle of Wight than across the mainland; rain from April to September is around 40% of the total and ranges from approximately 700mm on the south-west and west coast to 900mm in eastern areas, including Shanklin and Newport.
Isle of Wight sunshine records regularly make the news
Of course, it is the sun that is so positively associated with the Island’s climate, with a long history of sunshine records that regularly make the news. The coast from Sandown to Ventnor is second only to Jersey for highest recorded figures in the British Isles. Hours of sunshine range from two hours in December to almost nine in June at Shanklin.
Across the water in Hampshire, sunshine averages of just over four hours are common, but the Island regularly experiences over five hours daily.
Extremes of weather are thankfully rare; light snow or sleet occur infrequently and large snowfalls even less so. Thunderstorms occasionally gather over the Island when late autumn sun sets off a storm around coastal areas and heavy frontal storms that arrive from the continent sometimes appear in the late evening on summer afternoons.
With a reputation for being one of the brightest places on the south coast, weather on the Isle of Wight is usually a very warm affair – certain parts of the island, such as Ventnor, even have their own micro-climate! Enjoy!