A Wet Winter Brings a Green Spring to California

Until Friday, California had been in a state of drought emergency since 2014. Reservoirs had dropped to a fraction of capacity and residents were required to conserve and cut back on water usage for years. Now, huge areas of northern California have just experienced the wettest winter on record—months of rain have refilled reservoirs and as much as seven feet of snowfall has covered the Sierra Nevada mountains. California Governor Jerry Brown just signed an executive order to lift the state's drought emergency in all but four counties. Getty Images photographer Justin Sullivan revisited scenes he shot in the summer of 2014, to rephotograph them this spring. Editor’s note: This essay originally suggested that the photos below, taken in different seasons, indicated the difference between a region in drought versus a region in recovery. In fact, they show the results of a spring following a very wet winter, timed to the lifting of the state's drought emergency.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Metal Bull, First Snow, Raging Wildfires

    A fireworks festival in Burma, political turmoil in Sri Lanka, starlings over Rome, an Allosaurus in Paris, wintry scenes in northern China, and much more

  • - / AFP / Getty

    Dizzying Heights: Vertical Tourism in China

    Chinese developers have opened a series of new tourist attractions in some very lofty places. Glass-bottomed bridges, cliffside walkways, observation decks, and more

  • Charles Platiau / Reuters

    The Ubiquity of Smartphones, as Captured by Photographers

    The total number of smartphone users worldwide will reach an estimated 3 billion this year—here’s a look at the visual landscape.

  • Todd Kennedy

    The 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest

    A selection of entries from this year’s competition, which is open for submissions until November 15