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

  • Stefano Mazzola / Awakening / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Merkel Diamond, Windy Fire, Pedal Cars

    Container ships anchored off the Port of Los Angeles, gunfire on the front line in Ukraine, citizen astronauts’ splashdown near Florida, a nudist grape harvest in Portugal, and much more

  • Brynn Anderson / AP

    A Sea of Flags: Commemorating More Than 675,000 Americans Lost to COVID-19

    Images of a temporary art installation made up of hundreds of thousands of small white flags representing Americans lost to COVID-19

  • Desiree Martin / AFP / Getty

    Photos: A Destructive Eruption on the Canary Islands

    More than 100 houses have been destroyed by a recent eruption on La Palma island.

  • Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Grenadier Guards, Floating Island, Wrapped Arch

    Flooding in southern France, cliff diving in Ireland, civilian astronauts’ launch from Florida, an elephant bath in Pakistan, scenes from the Met Gala in New York City, and much more