A strong wind and a heavy dust storm are now hitting the southern Gobi provinces of Mongolia, the country’s meteorology and environmental monitoring agency said Thursday. The wind speed is reaching 18-24 meters per second in the provinces of Dundgovi, Umnugovi and Dornogovi, which are most affected by desertification, the weather agency said. In addition, snow and snowstorms are hitting the central and northern parts of the country including the national capital Ulan Bator. The unstable weather is expected to continue in the coming days, the weather agency said, urging the public, especially nomadic herders and drivers, to take extra precautions against possible disasters. Mongolia has a harsh continental climate as strong winds, snow and dust storms are common during the spring. Climate change-related desertification is the main factor behind the increasing frequency of yellow dust storms in Mongolia in recent years, according to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Mongolia has a total land area of 1,564,116 square km, and around 77 percent of the country’s total territory has been affected by desertification and land degradation, according to official data.