"The warm air is very active this year." So says Li Weijing, deputy director-general of China's National Climate Center, in reference to the massive snowstorm that has paralyzed his country.
The cause for the Chinese storms has been ascribed to the La Niña weather pattern, as forecast by the British Met (Meteorological) Office. La Niña is a cooling pattern that is influenced and enhanced by warming trends:
La Nina enhances Arctic weather systems and causes a cold winter in Asia, including in China. As warm and moisture air from the south meets cold air in the north under freezing temperatures, snow forms.
"The warm air is very active this year," said Li Weijing. As a result, persistent snowstorms occur in central and western China, paralyzing the transport and electricity systems. Link.
The extreme cold, white-out and blizzard conditions that have stranded up to a million Chinese citizens on the eve of their New Year's holiday are the result of a naturally occurring lower temperature weather phenomenon that has been intensified by a warming earth.
The worldwide forecast is for a continued La Niña event in a warming year.
Here's CNN on the La Niña impact and on the cost of the Chinese storms.