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As snowfall warnings drop in the B.C. mountains, some ski hills open early.

Strong winds lash the Lower Mainland, but early snow a boon for ski resorts

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    Digital writers

    Saturday, November 16, 2013, 9:27 AM -

    Friday was a rough day for parts of British Columbia, although the evening's storms have a silver lining for ski enthusiasts.

    Strong winds lashed Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland - almost gusting up to 100 km/h before the last wind warnings were dropped by Environment Canada early Saturday morning.

    Rain will taper off in the region as Saturday progresses, but in the higher elevations of the Interior, it was the snow that was the story.

    Although snowfall warnings were dropped early Saturday, many mountain passes received 20 to 30 cm of snow overnight - and higher in some locations - with another 10 cm or so expected as the snow eases off through the morning.

    That storm is currently pushing through the Prairies, where southern Alberta was seeing first of what could be up to 15 cm of snow early Saturday morning.

    Bad news for drivers, good news for people itching to hit the slopes.

    This isn't the first system that's brought heavy snow to the province and ski resorts like Whistler are embracing the early season snow, starting today.

    Whistler Mountain is opening 13 days ahead of schedule thanks to the recent cool temperatures, impressive snowmaking and natural snowfall, the resort says.

    "With five lifts running, guests will have the option to upload from either the Whistler Village Gondola or the Creekside Gondola. Blackcomb Mountain will open, as scheduled, on American Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 28, 2013," Whistler's website reads.

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