A storm that dumped nearly 80 centimetres of snow on parts of British Columbia has prompted officials to open Whistler for skiing earlier than expected this season.

"We have a great leg up on the season," Doug MacFarlane, Whistler Blackcomb Mountain manager, said in a statement ahead of Saturday's official opening. "Natural snowfall and our snowmaking efforts have allowed for the early opening on Whistler Mountain that skiers and riders have been hoping for."

The Whistler Blackcomb website is currently reporting 122 centimetres of cumulative snowfall with another five centimeters expected to fall Sunday. The snow fell in a period of 48 hours last week with a slight reprieve before the mountains were pummeled again.

Weather forecasters are predicting a stormy, snowy season for the mountain, which is the official site for Alpine skiing during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

The weather phenomenon La Nina is expected to move cooler air and water around the Pacific Ocean, bringing wetter and whiter conditions to the coast this winter.

Last year's season was the second snowiest on record with a 1,416 centimetres of snow -- 40 per cent more than the resort's average snowfall.

The resort boasts an hourly lift capacity of 61,407 skiers per hour. There are more than 200 trails located on 8,171 acres of skiable terrain.

The adjacent Blackcomb Mountain will open as planned on Nov. 22.