Drivers were caught in long tailbacks on icy roads after gritters failed to salt roads ahead of a snow flurry.
It took two hours for drivers from Halstead to reach Braintree and there was gridlock on other major roads including the A120 and A131.
Sub zero temperatures are forecast for next week.
Essex County Council has apologised for today's travel disruption and gritters are out tonight.
Tom Defty, of the Essex Weather Centre, said next week will see “Siberian weather” and blasted Essex County Council for not getting the gritters out quick enough on Wednesday.
“I have no idea what went wrong because the Met office sent us details at 9pm on Tuesday.
“Surely they must have got them but noone has responded to our questions.”