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Storms cancel volleyball tourney, delay Bucs game, detour traffic

Volunteers, spectators and security workers try to hold down a tent that was ripped to shreds when a storm front blew through Vinoy Park during the AVP St. Petersburg Open pro volleyball tournament on Sunday.
Volunteers, spectators and security workers try to hold down a tent that was ripped to shreds when a storm front blew through Vinoy Park during the AVP St. Petersburg Open pro volleyball tournament on Sunday.
Published Sep. 16, 2013

A Sunday afternoon storm toppled utility poles, canceled a professional volleyball tournament and delayed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first home game of the season, whipping across the area with winds in excess of 50 mph.

The worst winds died down by early evening, but the rain drizzle will continue until late in the night, Bay News 9 meteorologist Diane Kacmarik said.

Traffic was expected to be diverted through the night at Starkey and Bryan Dairy roads in Largo, where a traffic signal was damaged by the weather.

At the height of the storm, wind knocked down at least 10 utility poles in Pinellas County, in some cases blocking intersections or crashing into homes.

Among other damage, gusts toppled a utility pole that sparked a fire at a duplex at 1201 Seminole Blvd. in Largo.

The turbulent weather also impacted area sports events, including the final matches in an AVP Professional Beach Volleyball Tour tournament in downtown St. Petersburg.

Greg Ball, the tournament's spokesman, said officials called off the games about 4:15 p.m., just as the male and female teams were competing for the top spot.

The men's teams will resume their partially finished final game before the next tournament Sept. 26 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The top female teams chose to call the tournament a tie, splitting the prize money and qualifying points awarded to the top two spots. They will not resume play.

The Bucs' first home game of the season was delayed more than an hour, with players returning to the locker room and fans filing out of the stands only five minutes into play.

Contact Brittany Alana Davis at bdavis@tampabay.com or (850) 323-0353.

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