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UPDATED: Tornado Touches Down in Mendota Heights (Photos)

A Mendota Heights resident living near Pickerel Lake said Saturday evening's storm "sounded like an airplane flying through our backyard."

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.

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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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Peter November 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
We live in West Saint Paul, just to the east of Sibley High School, and we heard the same thing! Thought it was a really loud plane at first, and then the sound kept building! It sure wasn't a plane.
Dan Wills November 13, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I heard it too. Very scary!
Sue Burns November 13, 2012 at 06:12 PM
We're in Mendota Heights off of Victoria (up the hill from Hwy 13). Sounded like a loud explosion with a burst of lightening and 5 minutes of intense wind/rain. Crazy weird...
Zac Farber (Editor) November 13, 2012 at 07:13 PM
It sounds like it was likely a "straight-line wind." It's a pretty interesting weather phenomenon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derecho

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