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

  • Tommy Pedersen / TT News Agency / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 8/12–8/18

    The removal of Confederate statues in Baltimore, big waves in Brazil,  the World Jousting Championships in Australia, daily exercise at a pig farm in China, and much more.

  • George Frey / Getty

    Inside the Dugway Proving Ground

    George Frey, Getty images photographer, recently had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, a sprawling top-secret military facility in the Utah desert.

  • Tauseef Mustafa / AFP / Getty

    Photos: One Week in India

    India celebrated its 70th Independence Day on August 15, during a busy week across the nation.

  • Scott Olson / Getty

    Vigils, Marches, and Memorials After Charlottesville

    In squares and streets across the United States, vigils and marches were held this weekend in response to the hatred and violence on display during a rally in Charlottesville on Saturday.

Join the Discussion