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Using Met Office Data to Predict Subsidence Events

(September 4, 2020)

For decades insurers have seen occasional yearly spikes in subsidence claims.

These spikes typically follow major dry weather events and have happened once or twice a decade. To help predict whether a particular year will have a high number of subsidence claims, insurers and subsidence solutions providers look at weather data – the common data set analysed is MORECS.

What is MORECS?

MORECS is an acronym for Meteorological Office Rainfall and Evaporation Calculation System. Evaporation and soil moisture deficit for the UK is calculated by the Meteorological Office using Meteorological observations, including daily hours of sunshine, air temperature, vapour pressure, wind speed, and rainfall. 

Subsidence MORECS chart

Two previous significant surge years are 2003 and more recently 2018. According to the Association of British Insurer (ABI),

“More than 10,000 households made claims worth a total of £64 million to deal with the impact of subsidence in just three months of the year” (abi.org.uk – 2018)

2019 did not see the same claim numbers like 2018, but it remained higher than the claims reported in 2015/16 and 17. A wet winter in 2019 allowed clay soils to become rehydrated but this was followed by the hottest April in over 300 years and the driest May on record in 2020. Early August was hot and dry but this was followed by storms and unusually low pressure for the time of year. 

2020 has certainly not been your usual year. Scientists have suggested that the dramatic improvements in air quality associated with the coronavirus lockdown have increased sunlight and have affected weather patterns.

Can we expect a Subsidence Surge in 2020?

Property Risk Inspection Ltd, CEO, Michael Lawson, reports on MORECS throughout the year, his latest comments are, 

“MORECS is flat and below both 2003 and 2018 and without a dry Autumn at the level of 2003 we will not see an event year, but rather an elevated claims level for South East against base year”

Worried about subsidence?

Read our guide on identifying subsidence and how it can be treated here

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