With 170 dedicated temples across the globe and various natural disasters happening worldwide, there’s no question that at some point in time, these sacred buildings may fall victim to or be surrounded by some type of storm or catastrophe. Luckily, temples are built to an incredibly high standard of construction and more often than not, they withstand the winds and quakes and storms of the earth, even when the surrounding structures and cities around them may fall.
Here are 11 examples of Latter-day Saint temples across the world weathering literal storms and standing firm.
Salt Lake Temple in 2020
When a 5.7 magnitude rattled Utah in March 2020, the Salt Lake Temple—on which renovation and seismic upgrades had already begun—experienced minor damage. The most notable and obvious of which was the loss of the angel Moroni statue’s trumpet, along with the displacement of several smaller spire stones.
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Houston Texas Temple in 2017
In 2017, floods from Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas and many pictures of the Houston Texas Temple surrounded by flood waters appeared on social media. Ultimately, the Houston Texas Temple did receive some damage as floodwaters breached the temple, flooding the temple annex, basement, and main floor with water rising more than a foot. After a short closure to repair the damage, the temple was reopened again in April 2018.
Gila Valley Arizona Temple in 2017
In June 2017, the Gila Valley Central shared a photo from Jon Johnson showing the Frye fire in Arizona raging behind the Gila Valley Arizona Temple. According to the Eastern Arizona Courier, the fire was one of many wildfires in Arizona that caused the governor to declare a state of emergency.
Suva Fiji Temple in 2016
In February 2016, President Henry B. Eyring rededicated the Suva Fiji Temple. The night before, the Cyclone Winston had devastated the area , with winds reaching 175 miles per hour. But the morning dawned clear and calm, allowing the rededication to continue.
Bountiful Utah Temple in 2016
Santiago Chile in 2010
An 8.8 earthquake shook the entire country of Chile in February 2010, killing more than 140 people and sending tsunami shock waves across the Pacific Ocean. While much of the country—including many Latter-day Saint residents and full-time missionaries—experienced some level of distress or destruction during and after the quake, no significant damage was reported to the Santiago Chile Temple. The only impact to the temple was the trumpet on the Angel Moroni statue falling off, according to Church News.
Tokyo Japan Temple in 2005
As reported by ChurchofJesusChristTemples.org, on July 23, 2005, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck Tokyo causing the trumpet in the hand of the angel Moroni on the Tokyo Japan Temple to be knocked to the ground. The temple sustained no major damage.
According to one source, due to the incidents in Japan and Chile and other statues receiving damage during storms and quakes, many newer Angel Moroni statues have the trumpet bolted to the right hand through the palm.1
Manti Utah Temple in 2002
In a very rare event, a tornado swept through Utah on September 8, 2002. As it passed Manti, it came incredibly close to the temple, silhouetting it against the dirt and debris. But the temple emerged unharmed. Begin watching the video below at 2:30 to see the temple silhouette.
Oaxaca Mexico Temple in 1999
Two major earthquakes tested the Oaxaca Mexico Temple’s construction even before it was completed. The first—a 6.5 quake with its epicenter 200 miles north of Oaxaca—occurred in July 1999, as the temple’s footings were being put into place. Then in September, as the temple’s exterior walls were nearing completion, a three-minute, 7.6 earthquake struck.
More than 100 buildings in the city were destroyed by the quake or damaged to the degree that they were later condemned. After the disaster, instruments were used to check every angle and line of the temple. “When we were through, we discovered that the temple had not moved a millimeter out of square or out of plumb. It was a miracle,” said the temple’s project manager, Jay Erekson.2
Apia Samoa Temple in 1991
In December 1991, one of the worst tropical storms in recent history pummeled the islands of Western and American Samoa. For five days Hurricane Val pounded the islands, destroying more than 65 percent of the homes on the islands.
When the storm finally ended, all 69 of the Church’s meetinghouses in Western Samoa had sustained some damage and most of the meetinghouses in American Samoa received major damage. Despite the havoc raging around it, the Apia Samoa Temple received a relatively small amount of water damage. Additionally, due to emergency generators, a light on the temple’s tower shone brightly during the storm. One member told Church News at the time: “It was about the only light in the whole end of the island. It stood out as a beacon in the storm.”3
St. George Utah Temple in 1878
In early 1876, before the St. George Utah Temple was even dedicated, Brigham Young told his son that the steeple looked “some 12–18 feet too low” and that it would be fixed some time in the future.
Then in October 1878, a severe thunderstorm rumbled through southern Utah and a bolt of lightning struck and destroyed the tower of the St. George Utah Temple just a year and a half after its dedication. No other parts of the temple were damaged, but the tower underwent repairs for years before the Saints decided to heighten the steeple, consequentially giving the temple the look Brigham Young preferred.
- "Angels and Earthquakes", article by Brian Olsen, 3D Temple Models
- Quotes and information adapted from Temples of the New Millennium: Facts, Stories, and Miracles From the First 150 Temples by Chad Hawkins
- "Church Responds Swiftly to Samoa Disasters," Church News, December 28, 1991, Z14