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

Join the Discussion