No. 7 Story of the Year:Tornado Touches Down in Mendota Heights

A Mendota Heights resident living near Pickerel Lake said the November storm "sounded like an airplane flying through our backyard."

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As the end of the year approaches, Patch recaps the biggest stories of 2012—both in terms of pageviews and impact on the Mendota Heights community. The following article was posted on Nov. 14, 2012.

Story of the Year posts:
No. 8 Story of the Year: BC2 Artisan Bakery Rises Again in Mendota Heights
No. 9 Story of the Year: Mendota Heights Deer Hunter Finds 8-Foot Marijuana Plants in Valley Park
• No. 10 Story of the Year: Dodge Nature Center Says Goodbye to Bald Eagle


Updated Nov. 14, 10 a.m.: The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down in northern Mendota Heights Saturday.

The tornado had a path length of about a half mile and landed near Lilydale, between Wachlter and Butler Ave, paralleling Highway 13.


On Saturday evening Leighton and Dianne Siegel were asleep in their home on the 700 block of Woodridge Drive, by Pickerel Lake, when they were awoken by the thunderstorm that spawned two confirmed tornadoes in Burnsville and Eagan.

Leighton Siegel said there was no doubt in his mind that a tornado swept through Mendota Heights.

“We were woken up about 11 o’clock, and it sounded like an airplane flying through our backyard,” Siegel said. “I don’t think it could be anything else [but a tornado] because it sounded very localized.”

The National Weather Service's report on the storm shows an area of "sporadic tree/powerline damage" near Interstate 494 and Highway 13, but does not confirm any tornades touching down within the boundaries of Mendota Heights.

"The damage that occurred in Mendota Heights, Lilydale, and portions of West St. Paul were related to 75 mph straight line winds," according to the NWS report.

On Sunday morning the Siegels drove around their neighborhood and found that wind and fallen trees—multiple evergreens and one willow—had damaged "10 or 12 houses" and taken out powerlines. (Thousands of Xcel Energy customers lost power in the storm.)

Leighton Siegel, a retired otolaryngologist and amateur photographer, said his home was unharmed.

We “are now beginning to realize how lucky we were to have just been missed by the wind storm,” he said. “The damage of this storm somehow passed right next to our home.”

More photos of the damage from the storm are available at Siegel’s website.

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